Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based ...files. ).pdf · PIXAR STORYTELLING Rules

  • View
    222

  • Download
    3

Embed Size (px)

Text of Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based ...files. ).pdf · PIXAR STORYTELLING...

  • PIXARSTORYTELLINGRulesforEffectiveStorytellingBased

    onPixarsGreatestFilms

  • PixarStorytellingRulesforEffectiveStorytellingBasedonPixarsGreatestFilms2015DeanMovshovitz

    Allrightsreserved.Nopartofthispublicationmaybereproduced,distributed,ortransmittedinanyformorbyanymeans,includingphotocopying,recording,orotherelectronicormechanicalmethods,withoutthepriorwrittenpermissionofthepublisher,exceptinthecaseofbriefquotationsembodiedincriticalreviewsandcertainothernoncommercialusespermittedbycopyrightlaw.Forpermissionrequests,writetothepublisher,addressedAttention:PermissionsCoordinator,attheaddressbelow.

    morr@bloopanimation.comwww.bloopanimation.com

    FirstEdition.

    Theauthorandpublisherofthisbookandtheaccompanyingmaterialshavemadetheirbesteffortsinpreparingthisbook.Theauthorandpublishermakenorepresentationorwarrantieswithrespecttotheaccuracy,applicability,fitness,orcompletenessofthecontentsofthisbook.Theinformationcontainedinthisbookisstrictlyforeducationalpurposes.Therefore,ifyouwishtoapplyideascontainedinthisbook,youtakefullresponsibilityforyouractions.TheauthorandpublisherarenotaffiliatedwithPixarorWaltDisneyAnimationStudios.

    ASIN:B0167JJU2G

    mailto:morr@bloopanimation.comhttp://www.bloopanimation.com/

  • ABOUTTHEAUTHORDeanMovshovitzgraduatedfromTelAvivUniversitysFilmandTelevisiondepartment,majoringinScreenwriting.Afterhisstudies,heservedasDirectorofFilmandMediaatIsraelsOfficeforCulturalAffairsinNorthAmerica,attheConsulateGeneralofIsraelinNewYork.HewonhisfirstscreenwritingawardinIsraelatagesixteen,forashortcomedyscript.DeanwroteaboutcinemaforTasteofCinemaandtheTelAvivCinemathequemagazineandhaslecturedwidelyaboutIsraelicinemaduringhistenureattheconsulate.HehasmoderatedfilmmakerQ&ApanelsatLincolnPlazaCinemas,FilmForum,JacobBurnsFilmCenter,andmanymoreorganizations.HispreviouscollaborationwithBloopAnimationhasbeencoveredbyTheA.V.Club,DailyDot,andothersources.

  • CONTENTSIntroductionix

    1ChoosinganIdea1MotherLodesChoosingIdeasThatHaveaLOTofPotential1

    LeavingtheComfortZone:MoreDiscomfort=MoreStory2

    ACharacterandWorldThatVieforAdventureTheExistingFlaw4

    Economy:HowEveryMomentinRatatouilleStemsfromItsCoreIdea5

    Summary11

    InInsideOut12

    2CreatingCompellingCharacters15InterestingCharactersCareDeeply15

    StrongCaringStemsfromStrongOpinions17

    TheBestOpinionsComefrom(Painful)Experience19

    Summary21

    InInsideOut21

    3CreatingEmpathy23TheThreeLevelsofLiking23

    Empathy25

    DesireandMotive27

    WhenRemediesArePast,theGriefsAreEnded28

    Summary32

    InInsideOut32

    4DramaandConflict35MoreThanLifeandDeath35

    CreatingandCommunicatingEmotionalConflict38

    MakingtheStakesRealandLargerThanLife40

    ExposingandChangingCharactersAChanceatConstruction41

  • Summary44

    InInsideOut45

    5PixarsStructure49AWordonStructure49

    MajorEventsWhats,Hows,andWhys53

    AMultilayeredStorytellingCake55

    BondingStories57

    DoubleClimaxes58

    DontAbuseStructure60

    Summary61

    InInsideOut62

    6CastingCharacters65YourStoryasanEfficientMachine65

    CharactersasPlotFunctions67

    KeepYourWritingHonest68

    DesigningDistinctCharacters69

    Summary70

    InInsideOut71

    7Villains73AWordaboutAntagonism73

    EvilversusTroublesome74

    GoodVillains75

    AntagonistsasMirrorImages77

    Summary78

    InInsideOut79

    8DevelopinganIdea81PlottingversusExploring82

    SubvertExpectations83

    FocusYourCanvasCreativeLimitations84

    Summary85

  • InInsideOut85

    9Endings87CoincidenceversusCharacter87

    BacktotheBeginningAnsweringaQuestiontheAudienceForgot89

    ResolutionShowingtheNew,HealthyWorld90

    Summary92

    InInsideOut92

    10Theme95WhatIsTheme?95

    CreatingTheme,Step1:RecognizingWhatYourStoryIsAbout96

    CreatingTheme,Step2:PermeateYourThemeUbiquitouslyThroughoutYourStory97

    Summary100

    InInsideOut100

    11ThoughtsfortheAspiringArtist103Acknowledgments109Filmography111Bibliography113StayInTouch114

  • INTRODUCTIONPixarrepresentstherarecaseofastudiobecomingadistinctcinematicvoice,lovedbyaudiences,critics,andfilmmakersalike.Oneofthemainreasonsforitssuccessisthestorytellingchoicesitfavorsandpromotes.AsmuchasPixarsfilmsareknownfortheirrichfictionalworlds,gloriousvisuals,andoriginalplots,itistheiruncannyabilitytomoveaudiencesdeeplythatastonishesuswitheverynewfilmthestudioreleases,causinggrownupstotearuprightnexttotheirchildren.Pixarchoosesstoriesanddevelopstheminextremelysatisfyinganddeeplymovingways.Despitetransportingustovastlydifferentworldswitheachfilm,Pixarsstorytellingapproachremainsconsistent.

    IwillexploretheseconsistentPixarstorytellingtechniquesinthisbook.Adeeplookintothestudiosfilmsrevealscertainrepeatedpatterns.Someareuniversalandobvioustoanybuddingscreenwriter,inwhichcasePixarsexemplaryuseofthesetechniquescanserveasabeacon.Someofthemoreidiosyncraticpatternsofstorytellingmayilluminatethesecretsbehindthestudiossuccess.ThisbookwillexamineanduncoverthemechanismsandpatternsthatmakePixarsfilmsworksowell.

    Onenotetotakeintoconsideration:ThisbookfocusesonlyonPixarsstorytellingtechniquesandwillneglectmyriadotherstorytellingoptionsthathaveproventobesuccessful,evocative,andmoving.DespitethemanyrisksPixartakesanditsdedicationtoendowingeachofitsfilmswitharareamountofheartandintegrity,thestudiostillmakesbig-budget,family-friendlyfilmsthatappealtothemasses.Thesemoviesarethefocusofthiswork.Ifirmlybelievethateachofthepatternsdiscussedherewillproveusefultoanyfilmprojectwhetheritsshortorfeaturelength,liveactionoranimated,aimedtowardHollywood,Sundance,orCannes.

  • FeelfreetodiscussandcontendtheideasandtechniquespresentedhereeitherattheBloopCreatorsClub(www.bloopanimation.com/creators-club),oronTwitter@mdean317.

    http://www.bloopanimation.com/creators-club)

  • CHAPTER1

    CHOOSINGANIDEAEverythingthatmadethatgianttreeisalreadycontainedinsidethis

    tinylittleseed.Allitneedsissometime,alittlebitofsunshineandrain,andvoil!

    Flik

    MotherLodesChoosingIdeasThatHaveaLOTofPotentialChoosinganideaforyourfilmisabitlikeselectingwheretosetupagoldmine.Someplaceswillofferyouafewnuggets,andinothersyoullhitthemotherlode.Bothstartingpointscanbethebasisforagreatstorythosenuggetsarestillgoldbutmotherlodes,thoserelatableideasthatoffermanylevelsofcleardramaandnarrativeoptions,tendtobeeasiertodevelopandmoreaccessibletoaudiences.

    Clearly,Pixargoesforthemotherlodes.Partofthestudiossuccesscomesfromitsabilitytorecognizeanddevelopstrong,engagingideas,whichusuallycomewithpowerful,built-inemotionalweight.Theseideasevokearichexoticworld(whethermonsters,toys,orsuperheroes)thatoffersmanypossibilitiesforimaginativesetpieces,visualrichness,andoriginalscenes.Moreimportantly,theseideascontaintremendousphysicalandemotionalstakes,whichmakesthemimmediatelyenticingandaccessible.

    LeavingtheComfortZone:MoreDiscomfort=MoreStory

  • Howdoyoushapeastoryideatoincludeemotionalstakes?Mostgoodstoriesrevolvearoundwatchingacharacterstruggleoutsideofhisorhercomfortzone.Pixarcontinuallyfiguresoutwhataprotagonistwantsmostandthenthrowstheexactoppositeatthem.Thisstateofdiscomfortisgoldforwritersforacoupleofreasons.

    Onanarrativelevel,itsimplycreatesscenes.Itgivesyou,asawriter,immediatematerialwithwhichtowork.Ifyourewritingaboutarattryingtocookinasewer,itmightbecuteandevenoriginal,butnotnecessarilyinterestingordramatic.Butifyourewritingaboutarattryingtocookinagourmetrestaurant,narrativequestionsimmediatelyarise:Howdoeshegetin?Howcanhedoitonaregularbasis?Whathappenswhensomeoneseeshim?Whathappenswhenhisdishesturnoutgreat?Allthesequestionsleadtostorystrandsthatcanbeexploredandharvested.Allittookwasplacingacharacterinthemostchallengingsettinghecouldbein.

    Onadifferent,deeperlevel,yourideamustforceyourcharacterstogothroughanemotionaljourney.Acharacter,forcedoutofitselement,iscompelledtoworkhardtogetbacktoitscomfortzone,justaswewouldinlife.Thisdesirepropelsactions,decisions,andemotions,whicharethemeatofyourstorysinnernarrative.ToyStorysconceptoftoysareactuallyaliveisanimmediatelyexcitingonethatoffersmanynarrativepossibilitiesandarichworldtoexplore.However,itisntuntiltheconceptevolvesintofavoritetoygetsreplacedbyanewer,shiniertoy,thatemotionalstakesareintroduced.

    InToyStory,BuzzLightyearsarrivalcompletelyupendsWoodyscherishedandseeminglynaturalstatusasAndysfavoritetoy.Woodysreactionstothiseventendupsendinghimonawildadventurethatleadshimtoextremelyuncomfortablesituations:lostbyhisownerandtrappedinSidsbasement.BuzzspopularityistheworstthingthatcouldhavehappenedtoWoody,whohasalwaysbeencomplacentabouthisroleasleaderamongAndystoys.ThiseventalsoforcesWoodytofacemanyhardemotionaltruths.HerealizesAndys

  • lovecannotbetakenforgrantedandthathemightsomedaygrowtiredofWoody.WoodysstruggletokeephisfriendsastheyshunhimandthefearheexperienceswhenAndydrivesoffwithouthimandBuzz,bothcomefromdeepemotionaldistress.ThesefearsreceiveadistortedphysicalmanifestationinSidsabusedtoys.Attheendofthemovie,whilethetoysareagainnervousaboutAndysbirthday,Woodyiscalmer.HeturnstoBuzzandsays,Whatcouldbeworsethanyou?HefeelsstrongerandmoreconfidentofhisroleinAndyslifeafterhisordealwithBuzz(thoughthearrivalofapuppydoessurprisethemboth).

    Thisdiscomfortismorethanjustbadluckoraworst-casescenario.Itisacatalystthatforcesourherotoreact,andinthebestmovies,togrowandchange.Discomfortisntalwaysrootedinanegativedevelopment:Wall-EspeacefulroutineisupendedbyEvesarrival.Whileitsgreatthathesnolongeralone,Wall-EmustnowdevisewaysofwinningoverEvesheart,orriskmissingthisopportunitytofulfillhisdreams,possiblythelastchancehellget.Ifhefails,hellbeworseoffthanhewasbefore.EvesarrivalmakesWall-Eslifemorechallenging,andcertainlylesscomfortablethanitwas.

    Totrulyupsetacharacter,youmustcreateaweaknessorfearthatyoucantapinto.Therefore,Pixarcreatesapre-exis