Advice on characters
- I think if you're looking for what kind of story you want to tell, I actually, what I used to do when I was in school, before I would start making a film, is I would just ask myself, if I could take a vacation anywhere, where would I want to go? You know I'd like to go to a medieval castle. Oh, that'd be a cool place to tell a story. So, you don't even have to necessarily start from a theme or a conflict, just jump into a setting and then start thinking of the characters, and what do they want? And maybe this is a castle that it's been too boring, so they've got to hire a dragon to come attack them. And so we're going to do a talent scout for a dragon. And then you just go from there. So, you know, when in doubt just let your mind go on a vacation. Through storytelling and especially in animation, you can go anywhere that your mind can take you. - Sometimes it's fun to just think about what you would like to see, what would you like to watch? What is something that, for you personally, you would say, oh, I'd love to watch a movie like that, and make it. And even if it's not perfect, it's great to just have things out in the world that are personal to you. And it's good to look at other films for ideas, and inspiration, and structure, and how they, you know, work things out, problems that they may have, but always try to stay true to your gut, and go with something that is important to you. - I went to California Institute of the Arts, the school that was started by Walt Disney specifically for animators, and I studied character animation. And one of the things you learn at Cal Arts is that you have your professors, which are great, they're professionals in the field, the people you're really learning from are your fellow students. They're the people that you are spending every day with, and you're telling jokes to, and you're learning if you're not funny, or if you're pitching your stories and you're realizing oh, you know what? I'm not making JJ laugh. Maybe I should, maybe I could make this story a little funnier. And even to this day, when we pitch scenes to each other, sometimes we forget that we're going to be showing them to billions of people in the world, and we're just trying to make the director and our story crew laugh. Because, at the end of the day, we're just people telling stories to each other. - What happens when I tell the story to another person, is that all these other things show up, without me asking for them, even while I'm telling them. The story starts to come alive. The characters start to come alive. And then also the person you told the story to will tell you what they thought of it, notes, they're free. They actually are helping you make your story and your character better. So that's why I encourage everybody, if you're crafting a story, and you want it to get better, keep telling your story, over and over again. And you'd be surprised how good those characters and those stories become over a short period of time, and you don't have to sit alone in a room with it, thinking that it's good or bad or whatever, somebody can tell you. - So, another important thing that I'm coming to learn, the more I'm working in the industry, is it's filled with really amazing artists, and you're kind of always struggling to figure out how to stand out. And I think the best way to do that is to worry less about what you think people want from you, and just do, express yourself as best as possible. All the responses I got from the internship, and all the responses I got on my portfolio were just me going back and thinking about what made me laugh, or what were things that my siblings did that made me laugh really hard, and just try to express that into my boards. And people would be like, how did you come up with that? And I'd be like, you know, I didn't come up with it, it's just like, you know, this is me and what I'm exposed to, and people really reacted to that, and wanted more of it, and, you know, thought it was entertaining, or fresh and new. So I think that's the biggest advice I could give is just, you know, figure out what influences you in your life, and try to display that in your art. - So I think a big thing to remember, if you're trying to get a job at somewhere like Pixar, is to be yourself. I know it sounds cliche, but it really is important. - There's a lot of failure of course. There's a lot of times when you're wrong. There's a lot of times when you think that something is working and it's not. That actually is the most important thing that could happen to you as a storyteller, is when things are not working. And when things are kind of only slightly working. You always want to get better, and the only way you're going to get better is if you keep trying.