’22 vs Earth,’ the latest short film from longtime Pixar editor Kevin Nolting, explores why the smart-aleck soul hates our planet so much. This short is a prequel of sorts that takes place in the Great Before “sometime before Joe Gardner.” Early on, one little soul who has received their Earth pass, remarks that 22 has failed yet again. “She has no reason to live.” “She’s working on it,” Terry (the one voiced by Richard Ayoade) cheerfully responds.
22 is adamant that she’s never going to Earth, but she’s the only soul in the Great Before who feels that way. All the other souls discover their sparks and are happily transported to the planet, except her. And she sees this as the ultimate theft: Earth is stealing all of her friends; all the people she’s ever cared about and who have meant something to her. But make no mistake, she still has walls of snark to hide behind.
She recruits (kidnaps) five other souls for her ultra-secret organization that’s dedicated to preventing souls from traveling to Earth. She dubs this society APOCALYPSE: Anonymous Provocateurs and Other Culprits that Are against Leaving Your friends to go to Pathetic Stupid Earth. Really rolls off the tongue.
It’s a fun little short that’s much more lighthearted than Soul. The young souls in Apocalypse are super adorable, and 22’s tenacity is to be admired. You can probably guess how successful her venture is.
I spoke briefly with Kevin Nolting about the short and his experience directing it. He’s had a pretty impressive career as an editor for 20 years. He began in 2000 on Finding Nemo. ’22 vs Earth’ is his directorial debut. Below is my interview with him, edited and condensed for clarity.
Upcoming Pixar: Did you feel that your background in editing strengthened your directing?
Kevin Nolting: Definitely. As an editor, I’m involved with the movie from pre-production to final mix and I have the added advantage of a front row seat to watch Pete Docter direct for the last 15 years.
UP: Was it always your goal to direct?
KN: Yes, but my life just unfolded in a certain way, part of the continuum as opposed to a goal I had. It felt like a logical next step.
UP: Did you know that you always wanted to be an editor?
KN: No. In the Soul scheme of things, you have Joe Gardner who knew from a young age that he wanted to do this thing and then you have 22. I’m more in the 22 mold. Some people start their lives by looking ahead and having this goal. You get to my age and look back, and now you see the path, but as you’re on the path, you don’t.
UP: How long was the short in production?
KN: We began storyboarding in February 2020, and it went into production when we all had to work from home. We mixed it in September of 2020. As the production wrapped on Soul, we picked some people in the film crew to work on it.
UP: How was the idea conceived and how did it evolve?
KN: This short falls in the tradition of a DVD short and it’s being continued by Disney Plus. The story department pitched a few ideas before this one. This short evolved during the course of making Soul. We don’t see much of 22’s background, there were things that weren’t explored in the feature. It was an ongoing conversation as we made Soul.
You can cheer 22’s rebellion when the short makes its Disney+ premiere on April 30th!Last modified: April 29, 2021