A Dreamer Walking

Andrew Stanton – An Observation – Opening Doors

Posted in Film and Filmaker Studies, Observation Series by Jacob on August 10, 2011

Andrew StantonWriter/Director Andrew Stanton is a firm believer in not creating but finding the story he is trying to put on screen. He has talked about filmmaking being more like a archeological dig then performing magic tricks. He believes the pieces of the story are already out there, they are just waiting to be found. The great task for Stanton is figuring out ways to open doors so he can get to the foundations of the story.

Stanton once talked about filmmaking being all about finding ways to open those closed doors in your brain. He listens to music, studies art, debates with peers, and tries to use events from his own life to unlock those doors that are stopping him from finding the heart of his stories. Andrew Stanton does not dictate and make the story be something it shouldn’t be, rather he serves the story and tries to find ways to flesh out what is already there.

I am a big advocate of serving the story. I think filmmaking is like putting a huge puzzle together. Once you find enough pieces you begin to figure out the function of your film and the story starts to take on a life of it’s own. However, if you try to force in a piece that does not fit you can ruin the whole picture. Andrew Stanton ran into a problem like this in his movie Wall-E. He wanted the robot Wall-E to be the hero at the end of the film. In the draft he originally had Wall-E’s love interest Eva get severely injured at the end of the film and Wall-E save her. However, during one of the test screenings Stanton realized it actually needed to be the other way around. Stanton had spent the whole movie showing how Wall-E impacted all the characters around him. At the end it was time to show how much the characters had changed. He could not express the characters’ growth if Wall-E stayed the hero.

Stanton once talked about the difference between a good film studio and a great film studio being what happens during the 11th hour. He said at the 11th hour in Wall-E they found a bone that completely changed the dinosaur. The studio had the option of ignoring the bone or embracing it and working their butts off to fix the mistake. They decided to work their butts off. They came together in the service of the story and created a much more satisfying ending where Wall-E gets injured and the characters around him work together to save him. In the end Stanton found the right key and was able to unlock the door to a film which entertained and moved millions of people and will keep on doing so for years to come.

I think it is much more wondrous to look at filmmaking as something more then creating the illusion of life. I think filmmaking is about finding real life. I would never contribute the stories I create to just me. They are all built out of real things I find through living life, research, and having a relationship with God. I hope Andrew Stanton keeps on building his stories out of the real things he finds in his life. We do not invest in toys like Woody, fish like Nemo, or robots like Wall-E if they don’t touch us on a very personal and real level. Stanton’s constant devotion to story has opened many doors for us through out the years. I look forward to seeing what door he opens next.

One Response

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  1. minnow said, on August 11, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Nice Piece!

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