May 25, 2010, 11:16 am
By Henry Woodbury
Wired runs a very interesting piece on Pixar and how it, among all Hollywood studios, manages to produce hit after hit. One factor in their success is the stability of their team. Another is their ability to shred through ideas:
Every few months, the director of each Pixar film meets with the brain trust, a group of senior creative staff. The purpose of the meeting is to offer comments on the work in progress, and that can lead to some major revisions. “It’s important that nobody gets mad at you for screwing up,” says Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3. “We know screwups are an essential part of making something good. That’s why our goal is to screw up as fast as possible.”
I really like this framework for the creative process. Creative ideas — in design as well as film making — build from iteration, from critical review and rework. The time to run through this process of creative destruction is the concept stage — “to screw up as fast as possible.” Once you move into production, rethinking costs much more time and money. The importance of concept development is something we always try to communicate to our clients.
But I would add that the ability to respond to criticism starts with the stability and talent of the team. General Creighton W. Abrams put it this way:
The only way to get anywhere with kicking ass is with an outfit that is already good.
I feel like I spend my entire semester trying to get students in College Writing to understand this concept! Writing is all about problem solving, and revision is all about reworking the problem. But, of course, they have the idea that writing is all about typing a bunch of words on a page, handing it in, and hoping it made sense enough to get a grade! I imagine there are some producers in Hollywood who operate like this.
Posted by Katherine Woodbury on May 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm