We recently had the opportunity to sit down with some of the talent behind Sony Animation’s The Emoji Movie, including Director Tony Leondis, Producer Michelle Raimo, Maya Rudolph (who voices Smiler in the film), and World Emoji Day Creator Jeremy Burge.

Leondis and Raimo spoke primarily to the challenges of creating the film, and the many decisions that are involved in the process of building a movie like this. For example, they mentioned that many more apps were originally on the table in addition to the ones that were finally chosen to appear in The Emoji Movie, and that it was difficult to pick which should make the cut. However, they noted that the specific apps that made it in were selected according to the character’s journeys, and that story was considered top priority in regard to the film’s direction. “The movie’s all about identity,” Leondis said, “and each of the characters explores that in their own way.” In reference to the sequence that takes place inside Just Dance, Raimo added that “We even hired a choreographer to help us invent the Emoji Pop, to create a dance that felt unique and thematic for Gene.”

Rudolph, meanwhile, addressed the all-ages appeal of The Emoji Movie, asserting that its message appeals to kids and adults alike: “Sometimes, even as an adult, you think you know who you are,” she said, “and then you change. And you realize more about who you really want to be.” A mother herself, she also felt that the movie spoke to her about the unique worries that plague parents in this digital age. “It’s like the Wild West of parenting,” she said regarding electronic devices and the internet, “I hope that parents continue to have a dialogue with each other about it.”

Finally, we spoke with Emojipedia’s Jeremy Burge, creator of World Emoji Day, about the ubiquitous nature of emojis in today’s culture and the rationale that went into creating this holiday. Burge noted that the official count lists 2,666 emojis overall presently in use, and that more are added each year. This, he added, was what sparked him to create World Emoji Day four years ago. “You look at the calendar and there’s all of these holidays, like World Pancake Day” he said, “and I thought– Emojis are cooler than some of these things! They should have a day!” So he chose July 17– the date shown on the calendar emoji– and declared it World Emoji Day on Emojipedia. In the years since, the holiday has only grown, and this year’s celebration included a red carpet party at Saks Fifth Avenue, closing the New York Stock Exchange, and lighting the Empire State Building yellow with the cast of The Emoji Movie.

Make sure you catch The Emoji Movie in theaters July 28– you won’t want to miss it!