22 Secrets of Pixar Success – The Recipe of a Successful Company

22 Secrets of Pixar Success – The Recipe of a Successful Company

Steve Jobs has left us with a legacy of successful business ventures that were all built on the core principals of maximizing collaboration and creativity.

No company exemplified that better than Pixar animation studios (Now part of Walt Disney Pictures). At conception the original design for Pixar studios called for 3 separate divisions. The computer scientists in one building,the animation crew in a 2nd building and the 3rd would contain everyone else ie editors,directors etc.

Steve realized early on that such a layout was a “terrible idea.” He felt that he real challenge of Pixar was getting people from these different cultures such as geeks and the artists (computer scientists and cartoonists) to work directly together and really collaborate. Steve jobs insisted that Pixar studios just be one vast, cavernous space.

Steve On the relationship between originality and creativity (how it can be triggered by other people’s ideas)

“The brain is just an endless knot of connections. And a creative thought is simply … a network that’s connecting itself in a new way. Sometimes it’s triggered by a misreading of an old novel. Sometimes it’s triggered by a random thought walking down the street, or bumping into someone in the bathroom of the studio. There are all sorts of ways seemingly old ideas can get reassembled in a new way.”

He wanted there to be mixing. He knew that the human friction makes the sparks, and that when you’re talking about a creative endeavor that requires people from different cultures to come together, you have to force them to mix; that our natural tendency is to stay isolated, to talk to people who are just like us, who speak our private languages, who understand our problems. But that’s a big mistake. And so his design was to force people to come together even if it was just going to be in the bathroom.

 Pixar animation studios story artist Emma Coats tweeted recently about the 22 secrets she learned from senior colleagues at Pixar studios and how they use it to create appealing stories:

    • 1) You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
    • 2) You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
    • 3) Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
    • 4) Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
    • 5) Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
    • 6) What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
    • 7) Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
    • 8) Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
    • 9) When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
    • 10) Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
    • 11) Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
    • 12) Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
    • 13) Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
    • 14) Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
    • 15) If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
    • 16) What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
    • 17) No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
    • 18) You have to know yourself) the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
    • 19) Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
    • 20) Exercise) take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
    • 21) You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
    • 22) What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
  • source: Pixar Touch Book
I sincerely hope Disney doesn’t get in the way of a proven and successful system of Pixar animation studios.




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