Visiting the other MU

“They’ll be in just shortly.”

The doors swung open to what I thought was going to be a conference room set up in the King’s College administrative building. Instead, there were only three chairs, one sitting opposite of a pair. It looked like my roundtable interview with the filmmakers of Pixar’s new Monsters University had suddenly become a more intimate affair.

This wasn’t how things were supposed to work out. Really, this whole thing was kind of a fluke. The reason I was in the same room as Kori Rae and Dan Scanlon, the producer and director of Monsters University respectively, all started with the weekly Radio Times print meeting 48 hours prior.

It was my second full week at the outlet and I was still getting used to following the kinds of things Radio Times readers follow, not to mention what Radio Times writers and editors should be following. Near the end of the meeting, we were going over our “out of office” notice to make sure we knew where staff members were headed if they were working on assignment during the day.

At the mention of covering the Man of Steel London premiere, my ears perked up at the name of something I was semi-familiar with. Superman, who doesn’t love Superman? And as for going to cover a red carpet event, I was all over that like Joan Rivers on some crass joke about a starlette’s choice in fashion.

“Oh, Man of Steel premiere,” Tim said. “Do we have enough people to cover that?”

Before I could jump out of my seat at wanting a golden ticket to help cover the event, Susanna said that two reporters from our department were already on the story and would be compiling video footage to put online. Hopes dashed.

To make a long story less long but still pretty lengthy, I ended up later emailing her to say that I would be willing to edit the video interview if she wasn’t able to find someone with the video editing program and knowledge to use it.

She responded with minutes. The job was mine. Hope restored.

Not only that, but she continued. Apparently she had signed on to do an advanced screening of Monsters University and attend a press junket to talk to the filmmakers and write about it. Something had come up and she wouldn’t be able to attend. Might I be interested and have the time to cover it?

Oh, I don’t know. I’m only just a kid at heart who loves Pixar. But talking to filmmakers and discussing why they love their craft isn’t really my thing.

HAH, DID I FOOL YOU?

Things worked out to me being able to attend both the advanced screening and the interview the following day. As far as the film, I can’t say more good things about it. I was honestly a bit hesitant to express just how much I loved it, considering I’ve never done critiques or reviews and thought maybe I was just easy to please. But days after the screening, major entertainment news outlets have been generous with accolades for the Pixar prequel to the beloved Monsters Inc. Even though I really am a kid at heart, it has mass appeal to several age groups. Just like the Toy Story franchise that kind of matched age groups with the original audience with the story’s progression, Monsters University did a similar thing. And it’s not a run of the mill happy ending kind of story either; Mike and Sully actually face quite a number of setbacks before getting to a place that would eventually propel them to the lovable scarers that we know them to be in Monsters Inc.

But enough about that. Back to the interview.

In typical Jennifer fashion, I left myself just enough time to be a couple seconds late and feeling like the world would come crashing down for my tardiness. But I arrived at the press junket location, the Strand campus of Kings College (a beautiful campus, by the way), just in time. Just outside the main building in a little courtyard, PR teams had a mock college fair set up. Mirroring the film, booths and table tennis sets were arranged in typical campus resource fair fashion. The art club, student government and debate team — everything was represented. It was the perfect warm and sunny day for it, too. Students and visitors milled about as people working the event cheerfully answered questions and gave away bounties of free stuff. Like I said, typical college stuff.

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I was directed up to the registration area for journalists and even received the most adorable of press badges. After just a five minute wait, I was directed to the interviewing room. I was told that I would be interviewing the film’s director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae in a group of journalists from other outlets. That kind of set up made me a little more comfortable in the fact that it would allow a little brainstorming session of getting different questions and styles in the mix, but then again, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise among other seasoned veterans.

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That’s when the doors swung open and I realized that the interview was going to be quite a bit smaller than expected. In fact, the three chairs in the room meant it would be just me and the filmmakers. Okay, deep breath.

Mind you, the only other “celebrity” interview I’ve really ever done was for MOVE magazine at the end of sophomore year. It was a phone Q-and-A with Oscar-winning director Dan Lindsay, an MU grad who won the award for best documentary for his True/False film Undefeated. 

After about 90 seconds of waiting/panic/scrambling to bulk up the 10 or so questions I had for the pair, they finally arrived. And they brought their own PR person with them.

The 15 minutes breezed by easily, and the filmmakers answered my questions with rehearsed answers and poise.

“What were some of the challenges in creating this storyline? Why a prequel and why now? Which character do you identify with most?”

The majority of my questions were probably of the same caliber of things they had heard before, but all in all it went very smoothly.

After the effortless chat ended, we parted ways and I was led back to the registration table. The rest of the afternoon was mine for exploring the rest of the event. I got a campus tour by an energetic psychology major, took pictures with Mike and Sulley and parted the junket with a notebook full of material and even a sweet goody bag.

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Now that my material has come out of embargo from its July 1 holding, the product of that afternoon is now ready for public perusal. How do you think I did?

Total side note, but if you haven’t seen Monsters University yet, I’d recommend it. And I’d also recommend that you invite me to tag along so I can relive the adorableness again.

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