Update: Geoff Boucher promised to post the photos from M-O’s Sears Photoshoot and today he came through!
Check them out here (the above still is my favorite…)
Los Angeles is probably the second most likely place to be able to meet Pixarians. I myself have had the amazing opportunity to meet Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and most recently Andrew Stanton. Thanks to Pixar Talk, I was able to purchase my tickets early for the sold out Wall•E screening put on by the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex as a part of their Film Festival. I was especially excited as it also advertised “special guest Andrew Stanton” and a “special preview of ‘Brave.’”
The Line for Check-in
I arrived at the event with my brother at about 12pm (check-in was at 12:30 with the doors opening at 1:30) and was not too surprised to see that a line had already begun to form. We checked in and entered the rather large theater #5 at the LA Live Regal Cinemas. Playing on the screen were interviews and clips from last years film festival. At about 1:50, Geoff Boucher (writer at the Complex) came on stage to introduce a surprise performance by Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary, Raya Yarbrough, and Dan Seef playing Pixar tunes including “You’ve got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story and “Down to Earth” from Wall•E.
A few Pixar Tunes
After their performance, Boucher took the stage again for some trivia. While most of the trivia had to deal with SciFi and Marvel comics, there was one Pixar question which I was proud to be the only one to know the answer to. The A-113 question was barely asked when my hand shot up. And for my Pixarian knowledge I was rewarded with a TCM Classics collection with Lassie, Flipper, and a few others.
Next up was the screening of Wall•E. Since Boucher hadn’t made any mention of the Brave preview, I assumed that it would come after the film, however I was disappointed to see the Family Legends Brave trailer come on before Wall•E which I knew was the “Special Preview” the event description referenced. Nevertheless, it was amazing to watch Wall•E on the big screen again, and I will definitely be taking AMC up on their offer of Rataouille, Wall•E, Up, and Toy Story 3 come next weekend.
During the credits, the front of the theater was set up with two directors chairs with lights and cameras, after the credits Boucher came back on and introduced Andrew Stanton. Boucher moderated the interview, however I feel that Stanton handled Bouchers weak questions rather well resulting in a very interesting interview. Although John Carter was on everyone’s mind (there was a group from the John Carter Files present) Boucher respectfully tiptoed around any questions alluding to Stanton’s Live Action film.
Boucher began the interview by bringing up the silent film nature of Wall•E.
“I always knew the appeal was going to be the silent nature of the character. I didn’t think of it as silent, I thought of it as a foreign language for the character. And the appeal would be his loneliness and that small things, little things like deciding to take a pause and check the sunset…these were all little steps that might be cut out in another type of movie.”
-Stanton on the script of Wall•E.
Stanton went on to compare Wall•E with silent film stars such as Chaplin and Keaton. Boucher also brought up The Artist comparing it to the silent nature of the first act of Wall•E. Stanton joked, “Yeah, that wasn’t out then! And I must say reading all these articles about the first silent movie in 30 years, I was like ‘really?’”
Boucher and Stanton
If you had watched the special features section of Wall•E Blu-Ray you already knew about this next point in the interview where Stanton discussed the idea of having gelatinous blobs instead of the humans on board the Axiom. “You’d see these creatures come out of their suits and they would just be gelatinous blobs, like jello people, with the fruit in the jello and they were very funny gloopy people and we used the Ikea catalogue for their dialogue and it was really funny in the initial thought of it…but it just got so silly…there is this pathos that just gets disregarded when you have jello people going ‘blo-bla bla bla.’”
Stanton then went on to discuss the technological advancements made throughout Wall•E, “The iPod had come out right on the front end of us working on Wall•E and the iPhone had come out just on the back end.” Stanton went on to discuss a story during the production of Wall•E with Steve Jobs and Bob Iger. “I saw the most amazing conversation, when this movie was kind of on it’s legs finally, and we could see the whole movie, and Steve Jobs and Bob Iger were in our screening room watching it, and Steven goes on about ‘yeah yeah, people can seduced and then they stop doing this and they stop doing that.’ And Bob Iger just slowly looks at him and he goes ‘Whose fault is that?’”
“Some people just have the leader gene. And it’s not about, so I can be the most important person in the room, it’s just that they have some passion, some foresight, they can see something nobody else can see. And you just start to believe that if we don’t see it too, we are all going to lose out…No matter how wide you were thinking, he was just thinking way out there. And he had a way of describing it in a way that you just got it…it was amazing to watch.”
-Stanton on Steve Jobs
Boucher asked Stanton if he thought that Hollywood was brave enough to recreate the Pixar success story. Stanton went on to respond by saying that there are two elements that Hollywood doesn’t have. Pixar was created with no expectations to leave and Pixar is about creating films that they themselves enjoy. In addition Stanton noted that most Pixar films production cycle exceed a studio executive’s life span within a studio, hence they wouldn’t put their heart and soul into something that they may not benefit from as much as at a company like Pixar.
The next point was the environmental message of Wall•E. “There is an organic natural message that just came out of it for going this way…on a good day maybe I recycle and it’s a wonderful value so I had no problem since it naturally came out of the whole story I let it go.” Stanton did go on to discuss how he was aware of the repercussions and how he did make sure to not overstate the environmental message.
“I hate being preached to when I see a movie, if they do have agendas like that…I just want it so woven in to the narrative and emotion of the film…that I got all of that without thinking about it.”
-Stanton on the environmental message of Wall•E
Stanton went on to talk about my favorite character, M-O. “We had a prototype made of M-O and the editorial crew had the afternoon free to they took him down to Sears and they had every baby photo scenario…’here is the thanksgiving scenario, here is the sailor suit.’” Boucher went on to discuss putting them on the Hero Complex blog so be on the lookout for M-O in a pumpkin patch..
The music of Wall•E was discussed next. Stanton first noted that the Hello Dolly references were set before the film was even in production. He went on to discuss his extremely good chemistry with his composer on both Nemo and Wall•E, Thomas Newman. Next Boucher brought up working with Ben Burtt.
“It was hard for me to keep my sh** together!”
- Stanton on working with Burtt.
Stanton also discussed the dichotomy of being a Director and telling Burtt what to do versus being a huge fan. “There was only one time where I really- I didn’t want to go there, I wanted to be ‘Andrew Filmmaker’ next to Ben Burtt and there was this one part where I couldn’t get it across- ‘I’m trying to get this heavy sound…’ and he goes ‘I don’t really get what you’re trying to get Andrew’ all friendly and I just kind of went *sighhh* ‘you know the sandcrawler….and they stop….and there is the trash can bot with the big bags and he goes gonk…gonk…gonk’ and he went ‘Oh the gonk gonk bot!’ I had prided myself that I hadn’t gone that way at all.”
Boucher next brought up the sequels that Pixar has done.
“If you had talked to me before Toy Story 2, I would have gotten red in the face and loud and arngry and say no, no I don’t want to do any sequels…it’s just the losers way out. And economics let Toy Story 2 go forward…[Also] there are some characters and subplots that benefit from going longer. I can honestly say from an internal place, the drive was never about the cash and that people would come, I’m sure it attracted a lot of people and it made them feel at ease, but for us it was like ‘I actually do want to see where these characters are going.’”
-Stanton on Sequels
Stanton went on to discuss Monsters University, saying that they came across the idea and it worked, they weren’t searching for another Monters. He also mentioned how Pixar “didn’t want to go to Boo” how that was “everybody’s private memory.” While Stanton did mention that it is the originals that keep Pixar going, the sequels are comfort food and to expect more of them. This led Boucher to inquire “seafood?” as in a Finding Nemo sequel.
“It takes place in a sushi restaurant or even worse, it takes place in a toilet.”
-Stanton joking about his worst ideas for a Finding Nemo sequel
Stanton also discussed the rough beginnings of Wall•E. Discussing how he worked on the script on his own time for 5 months so that he had the ability to make sure it was as good as possible before people were even expecting him to get started.
“Nobody expected Nemo to be so huge, so it was funny to sit there and say that now is the time where I actually think people would go just because of the brand. So isn’t this the best time to not be safe, isn’t this the best time to do a silent robot, an octogenarian and a Korean boyscout, talking rat, doing all these things [because] the brand protected us.”
-Stanton on the beginnings of Wall•E
Stanton concluding with the Pixar mantra: Animation is a medium not a genre. Discussing the generational differences in their opinions on animation, Stanton made the point that “we are not making movies for your kids, we are making movies we want to see and our ages range from 25 to 70.”
Stanton was very nice about signatures and the like. Something to note, if you ever get the chance to meet Andrew Stanton, bring something to sign, he does a little doodle of the a character from the film (Tuck and Roll on my A Bug’s Life DVD and Wall•E) which makes it that much more awesome.
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