What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

October 23, 2010

The Action Movie fairy Tale.

80s and 90s action movies were often maligned not just for their violence, but also for their lack of depth and psychological sophistication. "They're not important."

But these movies built a generation of men who are now in their 30s and 40s.

They didn't learn that killing is cool, which was the worry of people who didn't watch those movies and didn't understand. This violence was central to the cinematic experience, but incidental to the story.

The complainers ignored the story because they thought it was basic, trivial. Wrong. Write down the plot synopsis of every action movie, and awareness will come over you:

A marginal guy must save a hot chick from bad guys; when he does, he gets the girl


A generation of adolescent boys learned immediately three things:

1. marginal guys are the real heroes.
2. heroes never die.
3. bad guys exist as bad guys, not as good guys who went bad, or bad guys with some good in them also. Darth Vader was unquestionably bad starting in 1977, unimaginable that he was once a sweet young boy with good in his heart. That story had to wait a whole generation to be told.
4. in order to get (active verb: to obtain, procure, convince) a hot woman to fall passionately in love with you, you have to do do some extraordinary things: take out thirty terrorists, master kung fu, be in the special forces, etc.

Interview with the directors for Pixar's Toy story 3.


I found this awesome interview. Goes into the thought process of crafting the story for Toy Story 3.

Interview Highlights

On speaking to adults and kids at the same time

Michael Arndt: "Your first concern when you take this over is you're just trying to make it all fit together on a basic narrative level. ... We did 60 different drafts of the scene before we got to the final version. ... It was really only after we set up the narrative structure of [toys realizing they're going to serve their careers being played with by children and then 'retire' to the attic] that we realized how emotional it was, and how much it played into people's fears of obsolescence. ... I think everybody feels the way these toys feel — like they've given themselves over to this child, Andy, and given him 100 percent and played with him and given him so much of their lives, and now he's going away. And they don't [really] want to go with him to college; what they really want is acknowledgment, and I think that's a universal thing. I think a lot of people go through life feeling like they work really hard and they're doing a good job and they just want some sort of emotional acknowledgment."

On writing animated features vs. nonanimated features

Arndt: "You can't make any distinction between a live-action character and an animated character. They're all real characters. To me, Buzz Lightyear is as real as Olive Hoover [from Little Miss Sunshine] is. You want to take their problems as seriously as they take them themselves, and you want to be as emotionally honest and intelligent about what they're going through as you can possibly be. But it does put you in these sort of odd situations when you're a writer and suddenly you have to think, 'OK. I'm a little rag doll and I've just been put into a knapsack,' or, 'I'm Mr. Potato Head and I've just lost my parts. How do I feel about that?' There were times when I thought it was funny to be writing scenes like that, but you have to take it seriously. You have to put yourself in that position and think, 'What would I do if I were in that situation?' "

Arndt: "The great thing about animation is you get to see these actors record their lines ... and that does inform how you think and write about the characters. So you can add parts of Tom Hanks' personality or Tim Allen's personality or Don Rickles' personality to the characters. It creates this feedback loop in animation. You get to go watch the actors perform, and then you can go back and write a little bit more incorporating what they've done and then you can record them again."

On writing for toys

Arndt: "When we're in a story meeting and we're trying to figure this stuff out, we usually go to the human analogue. We don't talk about, 'Well, if I were a rag doll,' or, 'If I were a plastic dinosaur,' because you want to get to the emotional truth of this story, and you want to get to the emotional truth of these characters. So you say 'OK. Woody: He's a little bit like a helicopter mom. He's a little bit like a mom who can't let go of her child.' So we always try and figure out the human equivalent of these characters."

Lee Unkrich: "But then the fun thing is, once we have that figured out, we try to figure out ways to make their issues particularly a toy's issue. I mean, Ken [of Ken and Barbie] was a great [example], and we made endless fun of Ken. Ken is a whipping boy. We thought, 'What is it like to be a guy who is a girl's toy?' You're a guy, but you're only played with by little girls. And further, he's just an accessory for Barbie. He doesn't carry equal weight to Barbie. He's really no more important than a pair of shoes or a purse or a belt to her, and we knew that he would have to have a complex."

Arndt: "You go, 'What are going to be the issues of a character like Ken?' What's going to be the stuff that keeps him awake at night? So immediately, you go, 'Maybe he's a bit insecure about the fact that really he's a girl's toy. Maybe he's in denial of that. And then this whole sort of richness opens up."

October 7, 2010

Guillermo del Toro's words to live by.

From his book reading stint at Portland's Baghdad Theater & Pub. Some choice snippets.

  • When asked about he assembled his filmmaking team: "I draw and sculpt, but I'm not a great sculptor, I'm not a great draftsman. So you hire people who are better than you, and you are loyal to those people... The rule is to work only with people you admire or you love. Or both."

  • "When you tackle a 'B' premise, you need to tackle it like an 'A' premise," he said, noting this is the case regardless of what you're working on, even if it's something like Blade II, which some people (incorrectly) assumed was a "paycheck movie." "I'm not postmodern," he said later. "I absolutely hate being smarter than my material." He's excited beyond belief to do The Haunted Mansion for Disney, a ride he's been collecting ephemera from for years. "The flavor of that ride is unlike anything else in the world."
  • On adapting other peoples' work: "Once the material is out, it belongs to all of us." And: "Adapting material is like marrying a widow. You have to be very respectful of the late husband's memory, but at some point you've gotta fuck."
  • On writing: "If you get bored with nothing to do, you are not a writer." "We are in the business of reproducing reality from nothing. We are the biggest liars in the world, seeking truth." There will be a collection of his short fiction published, at some point, by Harper Collins.

  • He thanks people for listening to his DVD commentaries. He prepares his DVD and Blu-ray special features "very carefully" so that they're "as educational as possible." "DVDs are the most democratic way to teach film."

  • "If you're not operating on an instinctive level, you're not an artist." Later: "Reason over emotion is bullshit, absolute bullshit." And: "We suffocate ourselves in rules. I find fantasy liberating."

  • "We live in a world that creates impossible standards... I say to all of that, 'Screw you and die.' We should celebrate imperfection, because that's the one thing all of us can achieve."
  • "Do whatever the fuck you want, even if it's wrong, and then tell about it with honesty. That is filmmaking to me." And: "Success is fucking up on your own terms."