Andrew Stanton on the Hollywood System

Andrew Stanton is my favourite director from the Pixar stable for several reasons. The first one being, of course, that he made my two favourite Pixar films, Findin Nemo and Wall-E. But there is also something about his personality that I like. He seems a little bit more honest and candid when he talks about the work he does, without John Lasseter’s grandfatherly, all-knowing attitude and Lee Unkrich’s pasted-on smile. He is the only Pixar person I know who has talked openly about the effects of all that great work at the Pixar dream factory consuming your private life, for example (there may have been others, whose interviews I didn’t read. Feel free to correct me in the comments).

In a recent interview for his next (and first live-action) film John Carter, which looked boring at the first teaser and appears ever more exciting the closer its release gets, he talked to /Film about the challenges of working outside Pixar, in the live action studio system. Once again, his observations are quite interesting, if a little high on Pixar praise, which seems to work without the Hollywood unions:

It’s interesting to see the system and how the live-action system works. It’s based on a lot of things that maybe made sense in the day or decades ago or are holdovers from the studio system. It’s unionized and there’s a lot of rules that don’t make a lot of sense logically. Pixar has none of that. I realize that one of the reasons it’s Nirvana is that we didn’t realize how a movie was made and just used — god forbid — logic. We figured that if we made a movie the way it should be made, that was the way they were being made. Our system is very logical and we keep improving upon it. We criticize ourselves and we have post-mortems every movie to improve the system.

Out here, nobody questions the system. It’s just the way it is with all its faults and everything. We don’t have unions. Steve was very smart. He said, “Let’s give them why there was unions. Let’s give them great healthcare. Let’s treat them extra special and there’s no reason to have that.” There aren’t these weird byproduct rules that actually cause problems in one area when they think they’re helping another. We have a very clean system, Pixar. After you’ve worked in that, it becomes very obvious how things should work and very obvious how things don’t work the right way here. I get a little frustrated at the haphazardness of it.

The world of moviemaking, since the studio system broke down — and this is my guess — lives and breathes off of triage. It lives off disaster planning. People feel comfortable in the disaster. “Oh! I know how to deal with this. This is chaos. Somebody’s on fire. Let’s run and get an extinguisher.” That is not Pixar. Pixar is planning to avoid every disaster possible.
(Emphases added)

Read the full interview over at /film.