Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Assembly-Line Movie

Over at Living the Romantic Comedy, Billy Mernit takes a look at why most Hollywood movies fail: The Assembly-Line Process utilizing a revolving-door parade of execs, writers, directors and stars, each with their own pet agendas and each making half-baked contributions on the fly. The end result is a fundamentally flawed movie featuring a patch-work plot that strains in all directions at once but, as far as meaningful story with depth of character goes, it gets nowhere.

Mernit, rightfully, cites Pixar's string of successes as proof there is a better way:

...Myers then quotes an interview with screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) on the development process he went through with Toy Story 3.  Pixar can take ten years with a picture, and this one took four.  The difference?  One writer, and good feedback before the rewrites.


In other words, instead of throwing everything and everyone at a weak story until something seems to stick, they start with a writer and an idea they believe in, then do it, do it, do it till they're satisfied.

"Pixar stories work because of the robustness of the story feedback system." Arndt points to statements made by several key Pixar staffers who admit that, at some point in the process, every single film Pixar made was once the worst thing one might ever see. "It's only by making the movie as a 'reel' seven or eight times, and failing repeatedly, and by applying the smartest and most ruthless criticism you can to the story over and over again, that the stories are able to take shape and come out feeling coherent and complete," he says.

Nicely done piece. As I've said before, maybe Pixar should make all movies.

No comments:

Blog Archive