WALL-E Director Andrew Stanton talks about getting standard treatment


picture: Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Practically from the moment it was released in 2008, Pixar Wall-E It has been hailed as a classic. Satisfying a wide range of moviegoers and raising the already high bar set by previous Pixar releases such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. Finding Nemo And the The IncrediblesAnd the Wall-E It won six Academy Awards and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. has not been Wall-E Became the first Disney/Pixar movie to get a Criterion Collection release – with a 4K digital master and the requisite bells and whistles and Supplemental Materials — Director Andrew Stanton sits in with him av club To talk about his experience making the futuristic tale.

Stanton, who co-wrote the story and co-wrote the script for it Wall-EHe was one of the founding figures at Pixar, where he started out as a writer and animator before taking the reins as a director. for Wall-EHe mined a lifetime of cinematic experiences—he was once an early independent theater frontman—and sought the fusion of art house cinema and high-rise blockbusters. Stanton reflected on the formative film experiences that informed Wall-Ealong with the future he sees for himself and the next era of animation.

The AV Club: It was great to re-watch the movie and then move on to the new sequels and see how deeply each cinematic experience left an imprint on you for doing so. Tell me about that trip.

Andrew Stanton: Well, it’s funny, we could probably do that with every one of our Pixar movies because we’re both moviegoers and movie lovers. But Wall-E It was unique in the sense that it practically reached the beginnings of cinema. And because I was also going into the art-house tone more directly than my upbringing I had being a novice in the art-house theater with foreign films, I really felt that somehow it influenced the history of cinema more directly and more widely than other films I’ve worked on.

And so it always felt like it had a kind of strange kinship, or what’s the word, loyalty, to this library of the standard. Because a lot of the movies that inspired me in my youth were referenced by accident Wall-E They were in their law, they were in their library. And that really got me asking Disney if they wouldn’t mind breaking the precedent, and letting me see if Standard would be willing to do a movie version.

AVC: I’m curious about your experience delving into your personal creative history. What did that do to you?

as such: I’ve always been trying to get my art house cake and my vogue cake and eat it too. I say that in one of the docs, I ran on the weekend to see Raiders [Of The Lost Ark] As I was running back to see My wonderful profession to enter for. I was getting this double education in cinema. And so I am a product of that. The first chance I got to try and push more depth, life-affirmation, and complexity was when I took full command Finding Nemo. And people don’t remember — people now associate Pixar with a lot of crying and emotion — but this is the first movie where we really tried that, really lit up some darkness and truth about life and death and unsettled things and stuff. That was really tending to him for the first time in our movies there.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to run in my art house. and when Nemo It worked really well and did a good performance, and I was like, “Well, that was just feeling like I’m scratching the surface. I want to go further. I want to feel… what would it feel like to see this in my art house that I went to when I was a kid?” I was basically trying to get a flavor and tone that I never really got in that medium. And it made people tense. But as soon as they saw even the earliest examples of what we were trying to do, everyone got excited because we felt we had pushed the envelope. Toy Story And what a different way to think about and articulate what an animated film could be beyond just music and babysitters and imagination. And suddenly we felt like we were doing it again with this movie.


picture: Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

AVC: Wall-E It is the perfect synthesis of the epic pop movies you loved and heartwarming art house movies. And you’ve got a well-funded toolbox, and yet you’re constantly focused on these very simple emotional strokes. How did you keep your arms around all of that?

as such: I call it inventing a new color. Everyone is trying to guess what this color we have never imagined looks like, and you all are walking blindly, holding hands. And that’s what you feel in each of our photos. So I was very fortunate to be in a studio environment that encourages that. From Steve Jobs and John Lasseter down, everyone has been encouraged to try to push the boundaries of not only what we’ve done in the studio, but in movies in general. We weren’t in it to repeat ourselves, we’re in it to evolve the medium and hopefully be a part of film history by earning it, by making only a worthy film. And we try it every time. So I guess if there was anything I was fighting about, it was, “Did we bite off more than we can chew?” Because I had this full support, and we still fail so much, we try to get there as we go, and time is running out and money is being spent. But everyone is supportive. It’s just, “Can we do that? Can we climb this mountain in time?”

AVC: Pixar’s way of making movies has become somewhat legendary, and it’s even replicated outside the realm of animation—

as such: It’s a good thing.

AVC: Yeah, that’s a good thing. The collaborative energy there seems to help create great content.

as such: We never invented it, we just allowed it. It is a strange, simplistic, and new idea that has been going on since the dawn of creation. It’s absolutely amazing how the world set up to make that last thing possible.

AVC: Tell me about both that mold and work in the Hollywood structure and sometimes peek in the door from Pixar and see how the rest of the industry works.

as such: Well, for Pollyanna and Nirvana as we create the environment at Pixar, I also realized that every movie that inspired me and that I’ve watched and still refer to, most of them were under much harsher restrictive conditions, and yet they made it. So there’s a part of me that just wanted to say, “Well, this is how I can make something with full support. But I want to know, can I do this under the same duress, under the same limits that all my heroes did?” I’m good at this and there are stories that I want to be a part of and stories that I want to make that are not animated. And so I had to go out and learn how to do that.

I’ve kind of set myself up as a chef for hire for other restaurants and I just see how they do it and I didn’t complain. I just realized it’s all about a learning curve. And it’s really a lot about whatever you have, how do you create a collaborative environment? How can you make people feel like they’re contributing to the ultimate solution to get a great scene or a great moment in a story and not feel like they’re just a number?

AVC: I can only imagine having a huge creative swing with a movie like Wall-Eand to critical acclaim and a wide audience, Had to Change You Somehow.

as such: you know what? It’s funny – no one brought this up. And I felt like I learned how to make films in an ensemble, with a group of people. I did not learn individually. So I didn’t know what was mine and what wasn’t, and I didn’t care. I was so excited, because of that analogy, to play the songs that were coming out of that set and the chemistry that created this greater thing that was the sum of its parts. And as we had to expand by the time it reached Nemo, Nemo It was a bit of a discovery of “Who am I? And what am I capable of?” And I was unsure about it all the way through.

And it wasn’t until I felt like I gained some kind of reflection and opportunity to look back and go back that I was like, “Oh this is who I am as a director when I’m left alone.” And so on Wall-E It was my first film in which I felt not complete confidence, but complete understanding and insight into what my voice was all about. And so I wanted to sing more. I wanted to give it a try now that I had a kind of sense of, “Oh that’s me.” So Wall-E I was a little immersed in figuring out what my voice was.


picture: Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

AVC: It’s been interesting to see what you’ve been doing lately. We’ve seen you get into some TV to direct episodes of Weird things And the Better Call Saul. I took a small step in star Wars the world as a writer in Obi-Wan Kenobi. And you plan to direct the live-action feature. What is exciting about these steps and where are they heading?

as such: I couldn’t think of anything more challenging than trying to do TV, which is very hard and fast, seeing someone else. I was more like a session player for rent. And I loved it because it took the stress out of, “It’s not mine. I don’t have to prove anything about myself. I have to be good at telling a story.” This is hard enough. And I want to be good under these technical conditions and in this medium.

That’s why I’m going back to live action now with a standalone movie, something I’ve never done before. I need a certain amount of challenge to want to go out there and do something. And honestly, it’s bullshit, but I just want to work on good shit! I don’t really care what the marquee value of something is or if there is a career path involved. I’m too old for that. I’m just lucky to be able to keep doing this. And I just want to work on good things. I know enough and I’m confident enough now that I know what’s probably going to be good, and I just want to be a part of it.

AVC: I feel like we take Pixar for granted because they stick to the highest standards of excellence.

as such: She is certainly judged on a different scale than anyone else. So, it’s good that you have a problem.

AVC: What is the future of Pixar and animation in general cinematically?

as such: All I hope is that it’s something that no one expects, that it surprises you, and that it’s cool. My hope for the time when we were making one movie at a time and there was only talk of the studio, I remember saying, “I just hope that if we get to this place, the only expectations you’ll have is if the Pixar logo deems it worth your time and that it’s going to surprise you and it’s going to be High quality and that will be it. It can be anything after that.” This is still my hope.

With a whole new generation of filmmakers and 30 years later, I can’t trust my instincts at my age. What I trust are the instincts of the current generation. Because we were the current generation in Toy Storybut we—many of us run the studio — no longer. And so we’re looking to the new, younger voices where do we want to go? What else do you want to do? What surprised me? What are we not thinking about? Because that’s always kept us internally interesting on a day-to-day basis: not caring too much about the audience, but just like, “What do we want to see? What don’t we see in the theater that we want to see?” Because that’s what got us here.

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