The Story Behind the Story of Pixar’s Party Central Short

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When Mike and Sulley first walk into the Oozma Kappa fraternity house in Monsters University, they are greeted with the following: “Welcome to party central. We haven’t had a party yet, but we will someday.”

That line always stood out to Pixar’s Kelsey Mann, director of Disney·Pixar’s new short film “Party Central,” which you can see in theaters before Muppets Most Wanted beginning March 21, 2014.

“I wanted to see them get what they always wanted and throw their big party,” says Kelsey. “As Monsters University was winding down, the idea of doing a short came up and I thought, we should do the party.” The short takes place at Monsters University. It’s the story of the Oozma Kappa fraternity brothers throwing their very first party, but no one shows up. But never fear because Mike and Sulley return to MU with a plan to make sure it’s the most epic party in school history. “It’s the most crazy short I’ve ever worked on and I think that Pixar has ever done,” says Kelsey. “Crazy in the way that only monster fraternity people can be.”

A lot of the crew and animators just rolled right from working on MU to working on Party Central.  “It was a really efficient way of doing the short. It couldn’t have been better,” says Kelsey. But, as with everything, making a short was a learning process for Kelsey. “You can’t treat a short like a feature,” he says. “Pete [Docter] gave me the best advice on that. He said, ‘set up a great premise and pay off on that premise over and over again and just have fun with it.’”

Kelsey says he drew on his own personal experiences, as he does for every film or short. “Whenever we’re working on any of these movies at Pixar, you’re always referring to your own life. Especially in the story department. You’re reflecting on what you remember about that area or that time or that event.” But, Kelsey insists his college days weren’t quite as epic as the OK brothers': “I was not a huge partier in college, so I did not come near to what the Oozma Kappas are doing at their house.” What exactly are they doing? It sounds like quite a lot. Kelsey says what surprised him most was how far he was able to take this particular story. “Every time I thought I was going too far with the short, I realized I wasn’t going far enough,” he says. “So I dialed this short up to 11 and realized it could go to 12. And we took it to 12 and beyond, so I hope everyone really enjoys the short. We really enjoyed making it.”

So what can MU’s biggest fans expect from the short? Fun, fun, and more fun. And maybe a little mischief. “Let’s just say [the Oozma Kappas] would get into a lot of trouble with Dean Hardscrabble if they knew what they were doing at this party,” says Kelsey. And as far as the ever-elusive Pixar Easter Eggs, Kelsey says it may not be typical, but hardcore fans won’t be disappointed. “There actually is an Easter egg. It’s not really something from the past like the Pizza Planet truck, but there’s definitely something in the short that it takes people even here at the studio a couple times to see,” he says, “but you’ll know it when you see it.”

You can see what happens in “Party Central” when it plays in theaters before Muppets Most Wanted this March. Before then, we’ll leave you with Kelsey’s final thought about what he hopes audiences get from the short: “I hope they laugh. I hope they laugh from beginning to end and have a great time watching it. That’s what we wanted to do with this short was make a really wild, over-the-top, monster frat party.”

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