Interviewing Josh Cooley and Mark Nielson

Interviewing Josh Cooley and Mark Nielson

*Disclosure: I received an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for the coverage of several press events for Disney, Pixar and Google. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Interviewing Josh Cooley and Mark Nielson

Interviewing Director Josh Cooley and Producer Mark Nielson who worked on Riley’s First Date

We all remember our first date and the makers of Inside Out are allowing us to all relive our first dates. Well, not exactly but they are bringing to life Riley’s First Date which is a short glimpse into a teenage boys’ head as well as girls’ head. But they took it one step farther and we are now seeing into the parent’s head as well. They each have their own set of “core” emotions such as Joy, Disgust, Anger, Fear and of course Sadness. But they all have their own personalities making this short one we can all relate too! 

While we were in San Francisco in October we had the chance to sit down with Director Josh Cooley and Producer Mark Nielson. These interviews are always amazing and this one was no different, but here are the top 15 things I learned about Riley’s First Date. 

  1. This duo had worked on Inside Out for 4+ years and Riley’s First Date it was pitched to Pete and Jonas along with a few other ideas. But this is the one they liked best so it won! 
  2. From start to finish the short Riley’s First date took about 10 months which was from pitch to the finished project. Which is super fast according to Josh and Mark. 
  3. Both have daughters of their own and being a protective father and their own experiences of being the teenaged boy. 
  4. At one time there were over 30 emotions in the story line but for story purposes they picked 5 emotions. Just because it was easier to keep track of. 
  5. Lots of songs were tried but ACDC’s song choice was perfect because it is iconic and something that both Jordan and the Dad could both relate too. Music is often times the “connector” in everyday life so they thought it was perfect for Riley’s First Date. 
  6. You only have 4 minutes to tell a story line in a short. 
  7. Comedy is easier to do in a short, but you want the audience to be laughing and enjoying the show. But making people cry with specific scenes on Inside Out were the scenes that they re-worked the most. Playing with humor and emotion is a challenge but one they mastered.
  8. Sadly right now there is not a sequel for Inside Out or Riley’s First Date. But you never know what could happen with the folks at Pixar. 
  9. Both Josh and Mark think it is awesome that kids are talking more about emotions and that the film has helped kids. They are blown away by the legacy the film has created. 
  10. Mark was most drawn to Joy because he loves Amy Poehler. But admits he is an optimistic person by nature. Josh was also drawn to Joy as well but had a lot of fun writing for Sadness because without sadness you have no you joy to play off off. Which is an awful lot like real life if you think about it. 
  11. Josh was actually the voice of sadness is Dad’s Head. His line was “Go back to Jail” and Jangles the Clown in Inside Out. 
  12. The favorite part of the film for Mark is shot production because it is when there is animating, light shots, and the crew is the biggest. It took around 225 team members to create Inside Out and the energy of the last year of five is just unreal. 
  13. Josh’s favorite part is ironically the early part of the movie from the Story Department which is the very beginning of the process where they are brainstorming ideas. It’s exciting to see it come to life. 
  14. They concentrated on making Inside Out and Riley’s First Date as entertaining as it could be. Once they had the basic concept for Riley’s First Date it stayed pretty consistent, but Dad playing the guitar was John’s idea. But each team member added things to make the short better and better. 
  15. Mark and Josh both love working with John Lassater because he is “incredibly inspirational with his crew.” “Josh said, “He’s the best story teller, I’ve ever heard, it is very exciting.” Maybe that is the secret behind Pixars success??? 

Interviewing Josh Cooley and Mark Nielson

As parents one of our biggest struggles is to get the kids to be able to identify with you. Most of our lives we can relate to our sons/daughters no matter what the situation is, we just have to make them see that we were young once too. Which is always a challenge. But we did learn a secret while we were there, they are both working on a small independent film called Toy Story 4! John Lasseter’s directing and it’s going to be exciting is all they could tell us! But I’m sure that it will be a great film!



Pick up your copy of Inside Out available on DVD/Blu-Ray now! I promise you will be glad you did! 



Money saving Mom/Grandmother of 1, who loves to travel, cook, and of course spend time with family. Fun.Travel.Food not necessarily in that order serving Missouri and beyond!

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