Pixar filmmaker Andrew Stanton provides an insightful look into his storytelling process. Great high-level reminders.
Meet Francis McTavish. He’s a likeable everyman with a beer belly and a bald spot. But what he lacks in abs, he makes up for with a cool job – he’s a geologist surveying for minerals in the rainy rainforests of Peru.
So he’s down in South America one day, when his helicopter crash-lands deep in the jungle. The pilot dies, and Francis has a nasty gash on the back of his shiny head. He uses some leaves from a strange looking plant to sop up the blood, then gets rescued.
A week later, and Francis is back at home in America. He looks in the mirror and holy shit his hair is growing back! Yup, there’s manly stubble wherever those magical leaves touched his head.
Specifically, have you ever wondered what happens after you die and have yourself cryogenically frozen, then wake up twenty years from now as just a head?
If so, you might enjoy my new movie idea: Like a Chicken. But if you do like it, you’re the only one. My writing partner and fellow Screenplaya hates it. All my friends hate it. And my wife said its high concept-ness reminded her of Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill, but without the wit.
The thing is though, how many movies have a scene where an English Bulldog with a human head gets humped by a labradoodle… and not just for a cheap laugh. It’s a scene that matters.
There’s a concept in law called “The Reasonable Man”. The idea is that sometimes a judge has to compare your behavior to what a regular person might be expected to do. For instance, when faced with a stranger choking on a bus, would a reasonable person administer the Heimlich maneuver? (note: the stranger is on the bus, choking. They’re not choking because they tried to swallow a bus.)
In perhaps the only example where lessons from law school coincide with those learned in the trenches of Screenwriting U, we can learn much from Mr. Reasonable. In law, the more your behavior resembles Mr. R. the better. But in a movie, the more your protagonist resembles the Reasonable Man, the less chance you’re ever going to win that Daytime Emmy.
F**k Twilight! Now that I have that out of the way, Let the Right One In is probably the best film I’ve seen this year. A subtle, elegant and evocative movie is a rarity, let alone one in the WTF Swedish romantic vampire genre. Plus any pic that can keep me enraptured on my iPod Touch on a crowded flight to nowhere is doing something right. LTROI worked on so many levels – thematic, allegorical, character study, sexually-ambiguous love – but I won’t muddy/bloody the waters with a review. I think that the true measure of a great film is how it challenges me to up my own game. Wanna know how this one did? Read on.
Halloween in NY is full on. A year or two ago, I went to no less than six parties in one week, the highlight was being a zombie tourist on a Gravehound bus blaring skull-splitting techno in the massive Greenwich Village Parade. So by the weekend I was running a bit thin on costumes and party number four was in a few hours. That’s when inspiration silently struck. I dressed up as a mime (as best I could) and made a cartoony cardboard clock that showed the time moving back from 2AM to 1AM. I even taped “fall” and “back” on my knuckles. I was (perhaps) the world’s first DAYLIGHT SAVINGS MIME. What I failed to realize is that the costume I thought was so clever would come to be a metaphor for one of my creative failings.