Ever wonder how Pixar continuously puts out hit after hit? What is the story secret sauce that has created one of Hollywood’s most amazing track records? Today’s guest might be able to shed some light on the answer. On the show, we have screenwriter and author Dean Movshovitz. Dean wrote the best-selling book Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films.
PIXAR STORYTELLING is the first book to offer an in-depth analysis of the screenwriting techniques and patterns that make Pixar’s immensely popular classic films so successful and moving. Each chapter of the book explores an aspect of storytelling that Pixar excels at. Learn what Pixar’s core story ideas all have in common, how they create compelling, moving conflict, and what makes their films’ resolutions so emotionally satisfying.
First released in October 2015, the book has sold over 15,000 copies without any marketing or PR. PIXAR STORYTELLING is taught on campuses worldwide, from Norway to Argentina, to Northwestern’s Qatar extension, and is cited in works and books from Finland to the US to Russia. It has been translated into Vietnamese and is being translated into Russian.
PIXAR STORYTELLING has proven to be an inspiring, insightful, approachable, and popular book, which can be used as a gift, a manual, and a textbook
Enjoy my conversation with Dean Movshovitz.
- Dean Movshovitz – Official Site
- Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'd like to welcome the show Dean Movshovitz, how are you doing?
Dean Movshovitz 2:36
I'm good. It's great to see you. Great to be here.
Alex Ferrari 2:39
Thank you so much for being on the show. I know we've been trying to do this interview for I met I met you at the ESA events, what, like a year ago?
Dean Movshovitz 2:48
Yeah, pretty much
Alex Ferrari 2:50
About a year ago, and we've been traveling between their schedule and my schedule we've been it's been crazy. But you're finally here. And we're ready to talk all things Pixar, which is based on your amazing bestselling book, Pixar storytelling, which we were talking about earlier, I can't believe no one sat down and wrote a book about how Pixar tells their stories. Like that's insane. But you were first. I was of course.
Dean Movshovitz 3:13
Nowthere's another one out there,
Alex Ferrari 3:14
Which was shot which was shown that it will shall remain nameless.
Dean Movshovitz 3:18
Exactly. But I was the first when it came out. There was nothing else that talked about Pixar that way.
Alex Ferrari 3:26
Now. And when you directed all the films yourself, how was that?
Dean Movshovitz 3:31
Like divine inspiration? Sort of was like, you know, writing from God,
Alex Ferrari 3:38
it's just, it's like conversations with God. It's just just straight, just straight. Yeah. Toy Story came to you that way I understand. We joke because there are people out there who think that you've worked with Pixar, but you're angling this book is based on analysis of how they tell their stories. So to be very clear, you are you do not work for Pixar or Disney. But you have broken down their secret sauce, if you will. Yeah.
Dean Movshovitz 4:05
It's really reverse engineering to try and figure out what makes them so special why they work so well why they have this rivard revered place and all of our hearts.
Alex Ferrari 4:16
Yeah, so that's my first question is why are Pixar film so good. I mean, there's very few companies and studios who have their track record.
Dean Movshovitz 4:25
I mean, to be fair, the number one reason is really the company culture which which I don't get too much into in my book My book is more about how you know the nuts and bolts way you can do that as one person at home alone with doesn't have all of the resources. But we have to admit that it's their standards like their when you see their movies, you see how every line every bit part is worked on to be as good as it can be to be to to be utilized in the best way in a repetitive way. Like nothing is just there. They really work. Hard to make every element, serve the theme, or serve the story have its own arc have its own sort of life. And I think that's a standard that you need to hold yourself to. I think, as writers, we often especially something is working, it's sometimes hard to push yourself to make it not just work would be great. And the other thing is their flexibility and the brain trust everyone knows about. And my personally favorite story, or most inspiring story is how they storyboarded most of inside out for like a year, year and a half, before they and they did that when fear was the main antagonist. And after a year, year and a half of working on it, they realized, Oh, no, no, no, this is not what it should be. It should actually be sadness, and went and redid the whole thing and reshaped the whole story, which a lot of studios wouldn't do or wouldn't have the flexibility and the motivation and the values to do that. And I think that mentality is something every writer should adopt.
Alex Ferrari 6:05
Yeah. And can you talk a little bit about the brain trust because I know you and I know what the brain trust is. But a lot of people don't understand that. That's how stuff gets done over a Pixar.
Dean Movshovitz 6:16
Oh, yeah, of course. So what they really have is all the pillars used to be john Lasseter. Now, he's not there, but all the top Pixar filmmakers, you know, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird, even though I don't know who's still there, and who's not. But basically, all those directors of Andrew Stanton for sure. They meet every couple of months with every project and the people working on this project will present a real or a couple of scenes or a storyboarded, you know, sequence or act. And they will just all go into it and talk about it. And in Ed catmull his book where he talks about their company culture that really embraces failure and embraces criticism, and its people go into those meetings ready to discuss anything, anything is up for grabs. And you know, it's kind of like a in in TV shows where you have a writers room, and you have a lot more ideas to draw from and a lot more input. And I think it definitely makes their films richer. And I also was in a panel and I heard their head of development, talk about the research that goes into living in the very beginning, when they just have a concept, they will often give the director, often their ideas, start with the directors, even if they later hire a different writer, who will have an area where they want to do like I remember they talked about cocoa, how he set up three different rooms, each one with a different idea, I don't know where the other two, but one of them was cocoa and that room was filled with sort of Day of the Dead foods and those, remember the word those presentations, they have the dead people with the food and the picture. And sort of all of that vibe and the way he talked about that, and his ideas about that were so passionate and rich, that the brain just went, you should go for that. So there's a lot of work into very, you know, seed of the idea, the very seed of the concept before you even move ahead. It's like, it's the to maybe hardest thing as a writer on one hand, to really work very hard on the concept before you go to an outline or treatment or script. And on the flip side, to have the flexibility and honesty and, and values and ambition to even when you have everything set beautifully to be able to go like No, you know what, this can be better. Or this is how it should be even if it means really breaking a lot of a story in you.
Alex Ferrari 8:55
Yeah, I have a friend of mine who's an animator over at Disney and at Disney Studios and a lot and I've been he's been there since Lord like princess in the frog he worked on yours years ago. And he's also worked on frozen and Zootopia and some other big ones as well. And it never ceases to amaze me that they will completely scrap an entire story and go back and he's shown me told me that the influence that Pixar is culture has had on on Disney Studios. And did you notice like Disney movies have gotten much, much better? Over the years much, much better over the years ever considered? Like Zootopia is, I think is a masterpiece. I mean, what they did and and, and he told me what the original ideas were they and he's in the desert and they were just completely different. Like the animals were much more vicious. They all had collars on that would determine that they would like if you go into the wrong area, it would sting like they had a bunch of stuff. And they and they would like fully design. Like there's an entire aisle. saw the the artwork for tangled. When it was bait like tangled entire world was based on Da Vinci's designs, it was dening to see. And they had been working on tangled for a decade, that the guy who was a great artist there, I forgot what the artist was the director. But for whatever reason it, it changed, and all of a sudden, it turned. But a lot of that has to do with Pixar influence on them and in the story structure, because they will, they will make a complete 180. Whereas a studio, you really can't if you're doing a live action, it's very too many too many think gears are moving, where it's an animation, especially with all that pre pre pro that they do, you can shift if you want to.
Dean Movshovitz 10:49
Yeah, and even if you can, sometimes other studios have a lot more value on this is when we want to release it. This is really nice. We want it out. And if you see they push their movies very often.
Alex Ferrari 11:01
Now, what does Pixar look for when choosing an idea for a film?
Dean Movshovitz 11:08
choosing an idea? Well, it seems to me if you look at her films are two main things. The first is a world of very, very rich world, a world that offers you a lot of characters and a lot of danger when you think of superheroes, toys, the ocean, the world of the dead, the inside of your brain, these are worlds that are immediately very rich, like you can immediately imagine you almost real What do you think of the logline of insight out there could be 50 different elements they could use in the brain or in the person that it didn't even put in this to scrap list of that movie must be, you know, exciting and enticing. So, one part of it is really a world that is rich, and you can explore and has some danger of constantly. But then the other side is to really find emotional states. My favorite example is Toy Story. Because you start with Oh, the world of toys a child's toy that's so exciting. It's such a rich idea. And you know, kids would relate to it. But when you think about it, the movie, the real outliner what's really makes us love that movie is what happens when a child's favorite toy is thrown aside for a newer tie. And that is, you know, hurdle. Rudel. Yeah, it's heartbreaking.
Alex Ferrari 12:39
I mean, that song in Toy Story,
Dean Movshovitz 12:42
dance drama, it could be an indie drama, you know, it's like, it's like a brother, the unfavored brother, right,
Alex Ferrari 12:49
though that Sundance I mean, the Sundance the Toy Story to song about being left on the side of the road and stuff. I'm like, oh, like you just are devastated. Listen to that. I mean, listen, the first, what is it the first four minutes or five minutes of up is probably the best representation of a human relationship I've ever seen. The history of like, it's amazing. And how and how do you do it? How do you go in with up and pitch up? Like, we're gonna do a movie about an old dude, Boy Scout, and a house with balloons in it. And it's just like, the marketing department must have had a field day like, you want us to sell like, little dolls of an old angry guy. Which they did, by the way, but
Dean Movshovitz 13:37
I mean, up, I know, it started something's very, very, very different. I don't remember the details, but sort of something very, very different. And I wonder like, and they started talking about sort of the book, like, because that image of the house with the balloons is such a great image. It's so amazing. And they bet they I bet it could be wrong, that they had that first. And they're like, Okay, so how do we justify that? And all of that beautiful opening in is, is sort of all of the only explanation I can imagine for someone tying a balloon and being so connected to their house. You know, that ridiculous thing of flying away with your house becomes so natural when you see that opening and what that house means and everything that comes from that.
Alex Ferrari 14:29
Yeah, I mean, they they have done what Hitchcock said he wish he could do which is like literally play a piano key and hit an emotion if you want him to cry. You hit this button if you want him to laugh, you hit this button. Pixar films do that in a way like I mean, personally, one of my favorite Pixar says Coco, like I absolutely love cocoa and how they did in the music and the visuals. It's just all so beautiful. In your chest like you know, I see myself as a grown man like tearing up content. stantly ever these movies, Wally. I mean cheese is the guy doesn't even talk. And you completely are invested in what happens to this little trash can. It's like so they're so brilliant in the way they do it is remarkable.
Dean Movshovitz 15:16
My favorite is Toy Story three the ending of Toy Story I, I just lapse.
Alex Ferrari 15:23
No, absolutely. I mean, it's, it's, um, and, and to be fair, like, you know, we always talk about pictures, hits and they're, they definitely outweigh the ones that didn't do as well and in my like one of the ones that I saw, besides cars to which we should not discuss, but but The Good Dinosaur, I thought Good Dinosaur failed, not only in the box office, but it failed every major Pixar thing, like when I saw a good story a good time. So I was like, this, this isn't a Pixar film. This feels like something else. I don't understand. What what what went wrong on that in that movie, in your opinion.
Dean Movshovitz 16:05
I mean, first off, I want to say that I do cried twice in the good dinosaur. Like
Alex Ferrari 16:09
there's moments there's, there's glimpses there's glimpses of Pixar, but it's definitely not a full package.
Dean Movshovitz 16:16
So the Pixar formula, like the structure they have is really balancing three different stories in each movie. One is action adventure. It's Indiana Jones. It's it's part of that Caribbean, it's just life or death. You know, it's joy, writing like tower of boyfriend's to get to the train. It's all that crazy stuff. Then they have a bonding story, which is you know, it's Woody and Buzz it's Carl and the boys and and Russell The Boy Scout, right? It's two people who who have deep emotional reasons why they can't coexist. Woody and Buzz can't coexist. One doesn't understand that he is that he's a toy. And the end Woody. When he sees buzz, he sees his irrelevancy. Right, they can be together until they grow. And then the third thing is this sort of emotional change this sort of education or attention, a plot that a character goes inside themselves. And I think the good dinosaur, minimize a lot of the action adventure, like there's some of that there. Remember, flood, I remember, there's this paradox souls that are evil, but it doesn't have that same level of tension and action that some of the other movies have. And I think it makes it feel a little slider. And, and the same thing with the bonding part, there is this great moment with the human child, those are my favorite moments. But it doesn't, I don't think it has the same sort of complexity and richness that some of their other movies create between their conflicting characters. And then when you get to the third marker of growth, I remember Arlo was an inventor. So I think he had that thing about making your mark or overcoming his fear. And, and that's sort of what the whole thing is hanged on. But I think again, it's not something as almost as mature I want to stare as complicated as some of the other examples like Woody learning to give up a spot or joy learning to accept sadness into her life and into Riley's life like those. Those things are adult emotions, those things are sort of things adults deal with Mike in Monsters University, failing giving up on his life dream, you know, so I think, and Arliss Ark is a little more, I'd say, oriented towards children, like as a as a teenager as an adult, his art doesn't resonate with the same strength.
Alex Ferrari 18:58
Yeah, as we're talking, I'm going back in through my head. I'm like, okay, Pixar films, and I'm going going, I'm just clicking them off. And the majority of them do have those characters that can't get along. Or they can't live with each other or like even Wally has Eve who they're opposites. They're generally opposites, either opposites and they can't get along and generally opposites don't get along at the beginning and they figure a way out to come towards the end. Incredibles I'm not sure about I know cars had.
Dean Movshovitz 19:28
Alex Ferrari 19:29
yeah, yeah, but that's also that was the first kind of outside the box outside of the brain trust because they brought Brad Bird in from the outside to do that, so that's why it makes sense that that film was kind of on its has its own thing, but even cars with Mater and
Dean Movshovitz 19:45
so credit on his films, I'm sorry when Pixar films have like seven rock credit writers between story and screenplay. Brad Bird is the only one where he right he has the sole credit. Right exactly. So
Alex Ferrari 19:57
his his stuff is a little bit Different than the other Pixar films, but everything else like, generally speaking, like in cocoa, you know, the his, his his uncle, his dad eventually, but it was always a spoiler. But, but those kind of, but those characters in your right and there is generally always massive action adventure even in Toy Story. I mean, the the there's constant adventures and like but the adventure is going downstairs or out a window. But it's still the stakes are extremely high. Wally had a lot of that as well. I mean, it's you start analyzing it because I know a lot of people listening right now. I mean, most people listening should have at least seen one if not all Pixar films. They're just those kind of films. But it is when you start to deconstruct them. This way it starts taking on a little bit different light. Now, what are the themes that Pixar goes back to again and again? And why do they do it?
Dean Movshovitz 21:00
I was gonna touch on this when you talked about me and you crying like children? I think one of the crucial reasons that that happened is the themes they choose. If you think about, you know, Disney movies or general movies we see, they don't always touch on the themes. Pixar talks about Pixar talks a lot about death. About Yeah. And not not even like The Lion King way where Lion King has a death in it. But it's a coming of age story. Toy Story three is about aging in a way it's about. Yeah, it's about time not coming back. Inside Out is about depression. It's about the cost of having complicated emotions and how life will never be as simple as it was when we were children. I mean, Toy Story
Alex Ferrari 22:01
for Toy Story for which I just saw recently. I mean, yeah, it's brutal at the end, and I get guys, by the way, it's just spoiler alert from this point on. I mean, anything we're gonna just I mean, if you haven't seen these movies, I'm sorry. But um, but yeah, the end of that, like, what do you leave, and you just like, that's another stage of life where you leave your family you go off and you know, you leave your friends that you made when you were when you were younger? You know that many people hold on to friendships, all their life, those are very special relationships, because people change times change situations change. Finding Nemo perfect example as well.
Dean Movshovitz 22:39
About parenthood my mom raised me by herself, it was just me and her. And she maybe was a little overprotective of thought at times. And when we start Finding Nemo and she told me because there is this line that Dori has where she says like, but if you don't if anything happened to him, how would anything ever happened to them? And my mom gas my mom gas one day she will will quote that line to me and talk about the effect it had on her because pictures about parenting and Finding Nemo is about parenting and inside out you know? She talks about how she has to be their happy little girl and in the end is her saying that she can't be that those are things that a few filmmakers much less than a commercial children oriented high budget you know film will dare touch and dare touch so honestly Yeah, that's
Alex Ferrari 23:41
one thing Pixar does honest it's authentic and honest. I mean, they they really really they're they're brutal they're absolutely the stuff that oh god and inside out when what's his name dies? Oh my Oh, what's this big as a big bond? What
Dean Movshovitz 23:58
is it? bond? Yeah, big
Alex Ferrari 24:00
but when big bond fail I'm like a bawling and I'm like, oh, Mike like was sober because you go back to either your own imaginary friend. Or when you're in Toy Story, you go back to that toy that you left at the side of, or somewhere you donated to the to the to the goodwill or something. And you're just like, you feel terrible. So now I like anytime my daughters are like gonna throw something away. I'm like, No, no, no, they'll throw that away. We'll put them in the garage. Put them in the garage. We can't just throw it away. You could give it a home if you can find someone for him but we don't just gonna give it to the goodwill. That's just it's so ridiculous.
Dean Movshovitz 24:42
In a car now after Toy Story three, you're scared to give your toys to daycare?
Alex Ferrari 24:46
No, exactly. Because it's such a brilliant transition from like, where will toys go? Will they go to daycare and the the politics inside of daycare and what happens in that? Did you ever see the commercial Spike Jonze director, this amazing commercial for IKEA. It was years ago and it was the story of a lamp which which just makes makes perfect sense here with it's exactly the same lamp from Pixar that what are the I forgot the name of those lamps. But you go through the life of this lamp with this person like oh, it's wearing this and the different things that happened and at the end it she unplugs it and puts it on the side of the on the side of the road like in the garbage like in a city like right there so it could be thrown away. And then a new lamp gets put on. And you just and then they start like closing in on this let there's no dialogue in the entire thing. And you just start closing in. And you feel horrible for the lamp until this guy walking by goes What's wrong with you? It's just a lamp. It's just, it has no feelings. The new lamp is much better go home. I was just oh my god. It's one of the most brilliant commercials I've ever seen. Oh, it's typing IKEA lamp commercial on Google. It is amazing. But the guy had like this Swedish accent for IKEA. And he's like, what's wrong with you? It has no feelings. What's the new one is much better. But that's the power of storytelling. Like you felt you felt something for an inanimate object. And I mean, for God's sakes Toy Story is the best example of that all the Toy Story films are such an amazing example. Because now you as a grown man, and me as a grown man will look at our toys from our childhood or look at our daughter's toys and just maybe what if when we close the door I don't want my pork. It's amazing. But that's the power of really powerful storytelling. Now, a Pixar has some amazing characters. What is their trick on creating these characters that just stick with us? like Woody and Buzz? You know, like no Dory, like they these characters? How are they make these characters so rich and sticky?
Dean Movshovitz 27:13
Well, one of the main things for me that I find is all of their care, characters care so deeply about something, they all have something that without it, life is meaningless. Like one of the smartest decisions they made in developing Toy Story is saying, oh, there's nothing that toy wants more than to be played with. That premise is the engine for all of those films. And it seems natural to us. But you can imagine different ways to go about that, like, maybe just don't want to be left alone. Maybe it's more about like you it's not, it's not natural, it's not an accident, it's a choice. And that choice drives all the emotional journeys, like when we cry those movies is because we know how much getting played with means to woody means to Jessie means to lock so even it's Andy doing all of their films, you know, obviously Finding Nemo have the connection to the house joy and that opening, right where you see how Riley's mind develops. Joy says it's my job in life to keep this girl happy. When this girl is unhappy, I as a person, I'm failing, you know? And they do. I think a lot of times when people develop a story, they find what the character wants, or they find a problem the character have. But they don't necessarily set up why it's so important to them or how deeply it's ingrained into their identity. Pictures characters cannot live without the things Pixar then takes away from them.
Alex Ferrari 28:59
Right so like Wally, his whole existence is about cleaning, putting things away, organizing and doing
Dean Movshovitz 29:10
what is the first thing we see him do right? He's cleaning all those things is alone on the planet. He has this one friend that's a cockroach that sort of goes along with him. Then he goes home and what does he do? He watches a video from Hello, Dolly. And close up if you remember that close up of his hands touching each other. Yes. In the movie. And that's what he wants and don't Eve shows up and you're like, Oh my god, this is his chance. What is another robot gonna be there? He can't fuck this up. You know, you can't screw this up. I don't know what you're
Alex Ferrari 29:45
fine. It's fine. It's fine. It's fine.
Dean Movshovitz 29:49
And that just that and think about what's working here a robot watching a scene from an old musical but it shows you how How much he yearns for love. And, and that's what they do whether it's Remy risking his life to get a spice from an old woman's house, right? Because he has to make something that's artful. They said these things that these characters can't live without.
Alex Ferrari 30:21
Yeah. And going down the line, almost every Pixar movie that I can think of there is something that the main character cannot live without your eye from Ratatouille wanting to cook, to Finding Nemo, Finding Nemo. To Wally wanting love to it's just it just you start going. This is what's wonderful about this conversation, because every time we're talking about a new concept that I go back as we're, as we're talking, I'm going back in my back of my head is going cars got it, and you just start checking off like Yep, they did it there. Yeah, they did it there. Yeah, they did it there. And it is it's fascinating to see, but they that need. I mean, it's kind of like, you know, Disney with Pinocchio, like you feel that Pinocchio wants to be a real boy. You know, that's the power of of that is especially when he goes off to that crazy Island and starts smoking and drinking and all that kind of crazy. It was a different time. It was a different. It was a different. It was crazier, crazier times. But that wanting for a character is so powerful. And I've never really thought about it that way. You're absolutely right. You never think of you start thinking going back to what I mean. If you start going back to some of the most successful films and characters of all time Luke Skywalker wants to get off he wants to get off the planet. He wants to be a star fighter. You know, and and you start you know, you start going back to all these famous movies all the main characters have this amazing powerful need that if I can't get this it's not my world is over even Tootsie like you know,
Dean Movshovitz 31:58
so funny I was thinking of like to see like before we started talking I was thinking about and this sort of relates to your question about character because what Tutsi does amazingly well which is very Pixar ish is how every character in it is a reflection of the theme and brings out some side of the lead. Like if you're talking about men women so you have you know, the director and the actor is sort of our you know, harasser is and look down women you have that one female boss you have his roommate was sort of more about his artistic side that he's neglecting. And Pixar does that to think about Incredibles, right? Every galley for has, they cannot agree about what being a superhero is none of them. So that's another good trick that Pixar often does.
Alex Ferrari 32:47
Which is what can you explain it we Every character
Dean Movshovitz 32:49
has a different point of view. Every character has a different role different function, every character different inflection of the theme. If you think about Remy and linguini they're opposites linguini has the heritage and the opportunity but no talents rarely kids or rats but has all the spirit Yeah, he's a rat in the world and then you have Cousteau and ego who are polar opposite like everyone is a different way in to to theme to the character to but my favorite line in Ratatouille
Alex Ferrari 33:25
is like it was you it was getting funny with it was it you was getting funny with the spices? The delivery of that line was so brilliant man. I mean, I like people who are listening can't see that I literally have a smile. Because I'm constantly thinking of Pixar movies in my head all the way down. And just thinking about the good times that you have watching those films. It's it's pretty remarkable. There's not any studio that I can think of that has that reaction, even Disney itself. You know, even Star Wars films don't all hit exactly the right place. Marvel is close, but even Marvel is not. You know, you will never get what you got at the end of Marvel Avengers endgame like that. It took 10 years to get there. I mean, it took 10 years to get to that specific 30 minutes of film.
Dean Movshovitz 34:19
Alex Ferrari 34:20
But Pixar hits that every time almost every time they're hitting that. Now how does Pixar create so much empathy in their stories?
Dean Movshovitz 34:31
It's a lot of what we talk about sort of giving that very, very deep need. I think often you really want to know why they need it. Like why is it so important to them? Wiley is really my favorite example of this because we have nothing in common with them. Like Yeah. And the first 30 minutes as you also said are silent. There's no dialogue and they have To make you love this guy, and it's really a talk about the three reasons we like both people and characters, like there's a first layer that's very superficial, where you know, maybe someone's very attractive or very confident, or you think about high school, right as a popular kids that you didn't know, but you like them because they had these like, external, discernible traits. And that can work in a movie, but it only gets you so far, and it dissipates very quickly. Movie Stars help, then you have a second layer, which is a little more intimate, it a little more personal, maybe you know, their hobbies, or maybe they have this neat little point of view, or there's something exciting about them. I always the the prologue of The Incredibles is does a great job of this where you see sort of, right, yeah, you see the two of them, in their heyday, they're flirting, they're stopping crime. And you're like, Oh, these are cool people, I enjoy hanging out with them, you know, but it's, but you know them a little more now. But the real important layer, and the one that you have to have to generate these sort of to make people cry is, is what happens when you think about how you met your best friend. Right? How you get to know those idiosyncrasies about them that don't make sense. But you know them because you're close to them, how you understand what they want, and why they want it and how it comes from. And maybe even most importantly, think maybe the main difference between a friend or a character that we love and everyone else is, we can forgive their flaws. You need to get that level of understanding of clarity of a person, so that you can look at their flaws in a way that doesn't stop you from loving them, and in a way where you're in their corner, to sort of defeat them. So when you see Wally, you don't see a robot that's cleaning the earth, you see someone who is devoted to their job, who loves their job who takes pride in it. You see someone deeply curious, because he collects all those things every day, and he does them around. You see someone who has a very good friend, a lot of friends takes care of right, he runs over him and then he's worried and then he makes sure he's okay. And do you see that deep yearning for love? And when you talk about in that way, that's every one of us. Oh, absolutely. You know, if I were left alone in a dystopic wasteland, that's the ideal life I could watch.
Alex Ferrari 37:41
Pretty much, pretty much. I mean, I remember when he got kissed by Eve in this in in space. And he just like, freezes it just like floats in the air floats in the air away. It was like, it's it's remarkable. I mean, going to Incredibles you know, I'd argue and I think a lot of people say this, but it's arguably one of the best superhero movies ever written and ever produced, you know, up there with Dark Knight Deadpool and Logan. You know, it, you know, it's just so what like the day ended, Brad Bird understood the plight of the superhero. And they were brand new superheroes we'd never heard of. And when you see Mr. Mr. Incredible in a cubicle. That is that image, that image, this giant monster is dude sitting in this little cubicle. And then he's got this little boss who's just the biggest pain in the air. How more perfect. I have an analogy for a lot of people's lives. Because I've had a boss we've had, we've all had bosses we disliked. And we all were like, I'm really a superhero. Why am I in this cubicle?
Dean Movshovitz 38:49
That's a great way of putting it. You're right. And they think, and it comes back to something they try to find in all of their ideas are like, This character is x, how can we make them the most uncomfortable? How can we torture them? If you want to call it like, if you're writing about a superhero? It's natural to have them fighting crime. That's, that's that's our comfort zone. Ironically, in a cubicle. Yeah, put him in a cubicle. That's, that's, that's a tension that that drives character, right, that drives a movie that has to be fixed and addressed before the movie is over. So
Alex Ferrari 39:27
I think i think i think DC could do something with that. Because if you take Batman and Superman and put them in a cubicle, I want to watch that movie. I want to see what happens there. Oh, it's just it's they they you also mentioned that they torture their characters they like rip the heart out of their characters. Can you discuss a little bit about that and use some examples of how they do it or why they do it.
Dean Movshovitz 39:51
It's it's it they torture them, but they torture them in a very, very specific way in a way that's very, very tailor made. If you want to think about up, maybe when I say torture, we're thinking about that opening sequence, which is very tragic and very sad. But that's, that's not an example of what I'm talking about. The way they torture Carl in an up is by giving him a kid who's upbeat, a kid who has selfless values, and a kid that needs him.
Alex Ferrari 40:26
Right, who said he was literally a Boy Scout?
Dean Movshovitz 40:29
literally a Boy Scout, right? Yeah. Because all current once after that opening is to be left alone. He's, I think, in many ways he's dead. Right? Right. He's breathing. He's alive, but he's dead. And he's stuck with this kid who forces him to sort of act in the world. And then when you get to the bad guy, I'm blanking on his name. Who wants to kill this exotic board who wants to hurt Russell is like he is forced to, to find a new purpose to live again. And that's sort of what I mean when I say torture, right? Marlin meeting Dory, is what saves him. But it's also a form of torture torture. Oh, because exactly right. She just wants to go this and do that and not think ahead and be reckless and talk to the whale? And he's like, No, no, no, this is not how we do things, right? It's it's these very smart ways of torturing their characters. Like you, you know, if you cut someone's leg, if you put them in danger, every character would separate from that right? Again, Toy Story, getting a new favorite toy and seen in Toy Story one, in Toy Story two, they have this great mechanism where he's given a chance to be in a museum, right? And he's like, Oh, you will be respected forever, you will never have to worry about being thrown away or donated, right? They set it up in the beginning of the movie with a character that's put on the shelf. And then you'll be in a museum, but you'll never have known it. No one will ever play with you. And yet, yeah. And that's toward tourists choice, right? That's something that's very hard to do. keep finding those ways.
Alex Ferrari 42:17
So so really quickly, I don't interrupt you, but because before I forget, normally, everything we've been talking about this, but you're basically giving the main character, its opposite. It's getting to its Yang. But with that specific example of woody in Toy Story two, it's not a person, which is a Ying and the Yang. It's his want is a yin and a yang, meaning he wants to be played with. But boy being, you know, encased and never have to worry about being discarded again, and being revered and honored for the rest of his life. is the opposite of being played and thrown away with. Yeah, is that accurate?
Dean Movshovitz 43:02
I think it's Mickey calls this either the lesser of two evils or the greater of two goods, which I think is always a very good way to approach dilemmas and choices because you know, if it's being played with or not being played with, what do you have a simple an answer to that, right. But what they do really well is stack the deck in a way, it's a very hard choice, and then the choice comes down to values. Here's this lovely moment where he's trying to convince him to come back, where woody rushes off the new coat of paint that's on its shoe to reveal Andy's name. And, and that's like, oh, and and Woody goes, and we go, Oh, that's right. That's who you are. That's what your values are. And they also give him Jesse, who suffered the same thing he did. But she's just like, two shades on the spectrum. more extreme. She's like, screw owners. I don't ever want to know her again, you can trust them. So she's sort of pulling him in that direction. So yeah. It just all works to serve the core dramatic question the core idea, the core flaw, it it's a funnel, everything they add is going through a funnel to that to the very core of their story and of that character.
Alex Ferrari 44:24
It twist or two is basically the godfather of animation. Because I embrace it when I saw it, I was like, well, this is it's I can't believe they made it better than Toy Story one and they did in my opinion, I think toys r two is even better than one even though one is amazing. Toys R two just hits on. So that's just a song alone. Just the
Dean Movshovitz 44:43
other three was like Toy Story three.
Alex Ferrari 44:46
That's not so much not so much. Now, let's discuss Pixar drama and conflict. I guess we kind of touched on it which is basically the drama and the conflict is throwing two opposites together. And then there was let me see. So Buzz and Woody. Buzz is delusional. So it doesn't have any wants Really? In the first he's just, yeah, I guess he's kind of he's just delusional. He doesn't even know he's a toy.
Dean Movshovitz 45:17
Yeah, that's right. But But the thing that happens is woody very clearly, as we all remember, tells him You are a toy. Right? And then it becomes this whole thing about about buzz either protecting that, or later accepting that there's that moment later on, where he tries to fly. When they're already at SIDS house and he falls. And it's an avian remember, there's like Randy Newman specifics on playing at that moment. And he needs to deal with that. Because until he deals with that, he and Woody can't work together. Now, though, he and Woody can't work together. And these room as an ecosystem will never function. So right, you're right, in the sense that because he's not the protagonist, like he doesn't have a clear one. But he has, he has a problem.
Alex Ferrari 46:08
Oh, you know, he's, he's got he's got stuff to deal with. He's got he's got he's, he's working. He's working through stuff. There's, there's no question that buzz is working through stuff. And so brilliantly done in that first in that first movie is when when buzz goes to fly the first time, because he bounces and everything, he actually flies so that the illusion continues. And that's such a, that's such a fascinating analogy for life. Because a lot of times this story that we tell ourselves, for protection for whatever, you know, that thing is for our ego. A lot of times things happen in our life that feed into that. And you see, you see I am a genius. You see, I am I am this or I am that. But when that facade comes crashing down, that is what that's what buzz has to deal with. He has to like, wait a minute, my identity has been Buzz Lightyear, this this astronaut, you know, action astronaut, and I'm like, No, I'm just a toy. That is so powerful. That theme is so powerful among other themes that are so powerful in that movie,
Dean Movshovitz 47:09
I think almost all stories. And in real life, all growth, start from a moment like that, start from a moment where your image of yourself or your set of values, failure. And to use a metaphor from inside out that I think is helpful for writers like variety has all these islands of personality. Right? Yes. Honesty, Island family Island. And I think a good script, or a good story starts when one of those islands is destroyed. When a character has one of their items destroyed, and though they need either to rebuild it, or find a new one, and figure that out. And if we talked about drama and conflict, I think Pixar does a great job of making sure that all their conflicts offer on one hand, an opportunity for destruction, you could lose everything you had, but also an opportunity for construction where, oh, you might not live your life the way you have until now. But to create something new, something stronger. Right? And they always find these great visual ways to show I think I call it the book like at first as a fly in the world. And then at the end, they always showed the new world and how it's better. In inside out. If you remember the end for control panel, it gets so much bigger. And yeah.
Alex Ferrari 48:36
Right. And they're mixed in the memories are mixed together.
Dean Movshovitz 48:39
Exactly. So you're like, oh, okay, Ryan, he won't always be happy we lost that battle. But look at all the emotional riches, she will now be able to experience. I think that
Alex Ferrari 48:54
if we can if we can get a little cycle analytic on on screenwriters. I mean, for myself, I could talk about myself, but I've seen other screenwriters and filmmakers as well go through this, which would they have this image of themselves whether that be I'm going to be the next Tarantino I'm going to be the next Sorkin I'm going to be the next big writer, and they start tailoring their writing around that idea. And when that idea doesn't germinate, because the reality sets in, because they're just like, you're trying to be the next guarantee. I'm like, Well, I'm sorry, there's no one's ever going to be the next Sorrentino, because you've got to be the best you that you can be because Tarantino became who he is because he is true to himself. He understands that he did not try to imitate not one person he imitates everybody he imitates everybody does it so masterfully that we just go Okay, that's fine. But I think for like for me, for, I don't know for my whole 20s every time a certain year would go by you would I was 23 that's when Orson Welles made Citizen Kane. Well, I guess I'm not gonna be Orson Welles. And then you hit 20 like 27 Oh, that's when that's when Spielberg made jaws.
Dean Movshovitz 50:11
Okay, oh, 38 sizzle winning and Oscar bet the rest director, what? 28? Exactly.
Alex Ferrari 50:18
So you start going through all those milestones. And as you get older, you start realizing that those are not realistic, not because you can't do it, because that's that your path. You know, those are outliers. Those are complete outliers. Those are magical moments. And that's a lot of times I feel that so many filmmakers and screenwriters get caught up in the lottery ticket, and not in just being themselves. And when you get comfortable with being yourself, which is like what most of these Pixar characters do, at the end, they get comfortable with themselves, they break the illusions of who they thought they were, like, Woody thought he had to be something right at the end, he changes all of them change NEEMO, you know, that anemos dad, and everybody changes to finally going, Oh, this is who I really am, as opposed to the illusion. And that's an extremely painful process in life. extremely painful. It could be from when you were a kid, and you think you're the hot the hot shit of the moment, and the girl just rejects you, Boom, crash, the island that you're talking about is this very, very quickly. And that is the process that you go through life. But I think in a creative standpoint, I think so many of us have these illusions, I think we grab onto them. And please let me know what you think. You grab onto these illusions you grab onto these kind of constructs, as a defense mechanism. Oh, yeah.
Dean Movshovitz 51:46
Yeah, it's I think someone talked about the difference between fixed mentality and growth mentality, right? You know that, right? So fixed mentality is I'm talented, I'm smart. I'm a good writer, I'm growth mentality says is not occupied doesn't care how good you are, it only cares about making your work better. Right? And, and this is crucial, I think, when it comes to criticism, because if you approach criticism with this need, that could be you know, unconscious, or almost unconscious, like, I need to protect my image of myself as a good writer, then criticism is painful. Because you're constantly negotiating, what does it say about me? What's this? What does this mean? Where am I on that timeline. But if you, if you try to get to that growth mentality, then a criticism is a gift. Even if you don't agree with it, it's, it's, it points you towards what matters, or it makes you sharpen, which you think is right, you'll you go like, Oh, no, no, no, this is right, because XYZ and I can double down on that, like, you know, it's a whole different issue. But when you adopt a different mentality, it frees you from the need to protect that image. And that lets you grow that that to accept criticism that lets you you know, toss away that brilliant scene you wrote and write something new. Instead, it frees you to write a first draft, that's bad, because you're not worried about being a good writer, we're just we're worried about getting to this project. It is. It's instrumental, I think, to free yourself from that need. And, and to go off what you said about Pixar, Pixar characters learning to accept themselves. I think they also accept learn to accept their limitations.
Alex Ferrari 53:36
Right? And that's also very difficult because the ego does not like that at all, you know, especially when you're younger. Especially when you're younger, you really think like, no, look, I had a conversation with myself, I'm like, I should be at the Oscars by at least 25. You know, and then when 25 like, no, 3030 I gotta move to LA, you know, and then, and then 30, okay, with really like, 35 really. And then I actually had clients in my edit suite that turned to me and like, I'll see you at the Oscars next year with this movie. The delusion was so great in their mind that they, the construct that they built around that ego in the in the image that they had in their head. It was so they needed it so much. And then that's when fights occur. That's when, you know, conflict happens a lot of times because if you threaten that image, and it happens in the Pixar movies, everything Woody, Woody literally becomes violent. Towards he kicks them out of the
Dean Movshovitz 54:40
room. If he's not Andy's favorite toy, he has no idea who he is. He exists.
Alex Ferrari 54:46
Right and it's, it's an I hope we are discussing this which is Pixar, non Pixar kind of stuff. But it all works into character because that is why Pixar is characters and stories. touches so much because it is is close to the struggle and all good movies were written Well, it's the struggle that we go through as humans throughout through our lives. And when you see that authenticity, you are attracted to it like a moth to a flame. And that's why Pixar I feel that Pixar films resonates so much internationally. Oh, yeah,
Dean Movshovitz 55:21
clearly. Yeah. I think you talked about pain earlier. And I think that if you want to measure conflict, it's like, oh, does my script and have enough conflict? You need to measure it by how much pain your character is. That that's the that's the measuring unit. And, and to be fair, when I tried to think about the difference between Pixar and Disney, right, why you immediately know when when a movie is a Disney movie, and when you meet you know, it's a Pixar movie, because they're both on the surface similar, right? And legacy travelers that you mentioned, a lot more Pixar than Disney.
Alex Ferrari 55:57
Oh, absolutely. It's one of their it's one of their best animated films, in my opinion. Like I love frozen too much more than frozen when I thought frozen one was, but it did, obviously, what do I know? My daughter's bought five dresses. So they did okay. But um, but Zootopia Big Hero six was also wonderful, but it's very Pixar ish. Big Hero six is very, very Pixar ish.
Dean Movshovitz 56:23
And it's not even talking about quality like given stories, these bets are like Lion King Lion King is great. Doesn't feel like Pixar. And I think the difference is Disney films are more than mean is in the best way possible. There's a fairy tale. The characters are archetypes. They're abstract, they represent something, it's these coming of age, it's family. It's stuff like that. Pixar tries to feel realistic, right? The characters aren't archetypes in that way. They're they feel like they exist in our world, just in corners, we don't see or don't know. But they they feel they feel like us. They feel like a work place. They feel like you know,
Alex Ferrari 57:08
they're not kings and queens other than other than brave, and even brave, you really identify with I forgot her name but the princess because she's like, oppressed that she wants to get free. Yeah. And then, and that is also mixing it with relationships with your mother and your parents and all of that stuff. And it's just, and then the whole there's so many layers. Yeah, and to be fair,
Dean Movshovitz 57:32
I love great, I think brave is is underappreciated, but it's one of their movies that didn't do as well. I always when she when she talks her mother at the end and the sun comes up. I always cry but but I know a lot of people consider it like second tier Pixar. And I think it's partially because of this thing where it feels like 10% more of a fairy tale than Pixar sort of realistic adult complex characters and emotions and issues.
Alex Ferrari 58:03
What did you think of the latest Pixar film? I forgot the name of it.
Dean Movshovitz 58:06
Well, that's one. Oh, onward.
Alex Ferrari 58:08
onward. What did you feel about onward because I saw onward. I liked I liked it. And I could see a lot of I mean, the dad style, the dad stuff, and not at the end and all of that stuff. But it was it didn't resonate like Wally, it didn't resonate, like inside out. But it had its moments. It's It's better than good dinosaur, in my opinion. And it's still a quality Pixar film. But it It didn't hit exact like in stock cocoa. So why is that you? And that's just my opinion on what you thought of it?
Dean Movshovitz 58:42
Well, I'm sort of in the same space as you I'm a little biased with onward because my father died when I was very young.
Alex Ferrari 58:49
Dean Movshovitz 58:51
But ironically, it made me have the opposite reaction, because I was like, Oh, that's not what I that's not a reaction I would have would have no way I would go meet him without bringing my mother along. Because I find that just to be self like, there's stuff like that that made a little harder for me. But to answer more concisely to your question, I think the lead wasn't didn't have a deep enough want or need like yes, he wants to connect with his father, but he didn't have that personality flaw we've been talking about. Like you see him not being able to talk to the girl at school or not being able to not having confidence. That's something we've seen so many times and so many other films. Correct and it works. You like him, you're on the journey. The moment when he goes through the list and realize it's been his brother is deep and it's profound right in what it says about appreciating the family you're with and the people who are there for you. I love that I have a rush of emotion and tears when that moment happens. But I think the lead character and is not as you niQ and their flaw isn't as neatly tied to their journey, right? meeting his father all this, it doesn't quite tie to the problem he has in the beginning. And I think those things sort of keep it from reaching its full potential. I also think that the world they created, which is fun and funny and interesting. I think it could have been explored further, I think it could have had, again, if you think about Monsters, Inc, right? We have that neat relationship, like, screams run this, you know, beautiful. These little assumptions or rules, toys of being played with, right, that make the world tick.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
There wasn't anything like that in that. I don't remember that.
Dean Movshovitz 1:00:49
Yeah. It talks about how they lost the magic and there's some stuff about you know, but it didn't quite. It wasn't hammered home. I think it wasn't.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Yeah, I see what you're saying. But it's not there is that which is the whole magic and I lost the magic. And it was, he talked about it, like it's in its past and stuff. It but it's not as powerful as like, all toys want to be played with. Everything runs on screams, where then laughter is 10 times or 20 times as fast as good, you know. And that twist is I mean, it's just so it's, it's remarkable. It's a remarkable way to look at things. Now I want to touch one more thing before we go. villains. Ah, pics, Pixar villains. Can you talk a little bit of how Pixar creates those villains? Because in my mind, there aren't any villains that I can think of that steal the show. The protagonist generally is the one who steal like Darth Vader steals the show. Yeah, yeah. Hannibal Lecter stole the show like it completely. But in Pixar, the villains are good. Like an Incredibles. He was great. The kid and it was really complex. But they don't steal the show. What What, what is a Pixar villain?
Dean Movshovitz 1:02:10
Well, I think that's actually a great point that I haven't quite thought of that way. And I think the main reason is because Pixar often places the bulk of the antagonism on what I call a troublesome villain or a troublesome antagonist. And that's someone who isn't evil isn't malicious. Someone means well, but he's just in the protagonists way, like Buzz and Woody, right, but isn't Woody's way. He's his main form of conflict. He's in no way shape or form of villain.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
There really isn't a villain other than what's this kid that that crazy kid across the Yeah. Said is is this close to him this week? And he gets what he deserves. That's all I'm saying.
Dean Movshovitz 1:02:54
Yeah. So we think they often even up has a clear villain, right? Right isn't a month.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Exactly. I don't remember his name. The see though is he like, like, I can picture him and I know he has the dogs. And that was it. I don't remember. But I remember the bird squirrel. The kid the block. The dollar is great. All of that I remember the villa is kind of like in the background.
Dean Movshovitz 1:03:20
Because most of the conflict in that movie is between him and the kid or him himself and a lot of nature. There's a lot of like talk about you know, same thing with Finding Nemo right. So a lot about the ocean the obstacles, and when the two does have a villain they are very often so you humanize lotso who's as evil a villain as Pixar may have made Yeah, it's that amazing flashback about how he was left out. They made hacking equals replaced and you know, and then he also becomes a mirror image of woody who's has the same fears. And and when you watch those who are with you like Oh, if woody doesn't get over Andy, he could become lotsa, right? So even when they have someone who's more nefarious, they often give them very human reasons for why they're doing it. And I think my favorite Pixar villain who's also a villain is Anton ego, right? Who's really designed as like, even I broke it down for a lecture I gave and there's a top shot of his office and it's the shape of a coffin. You know, it the first minutes of the film is introduced as the grim eater like he's really
Alex Ferrari 1:04:43
so good. So yeah, but he ends up not being a villain. That was the bed really, which is brilliant in Ratatouille is just so it's, it's fascinating, but I've always been, I've always heard and I've had so many, you know, amazing guest on the show who knows story and screenwriters and consultants and, and scholars. And the consensus is in order to have a good protagonist, you need a good antagonist. But Pixar kind of breaks that rule.
Dean Movshovitz 1:05:15
So I would love that definition. You don't necessarily need a good antagonist, you need good antagonistic forces, correct?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
Yeah, because finding the Finding Nemo is a perfect example. There is absolutely no villain in that movie. There's nothing that's there's a girl there is the little girl with that said, That's. Yeah, but that's basically said, it's like, it's not a villain. It's just it's a little girl who's doing what a little girl does? Yeah. Isn't he said his nature. He's he's on the different spectrum of nature, meaning that he's a little bit you know, you know, but how many of us don't know that kid? Yeah.
Dean Movshovitz 1:05:57
So yeah, so they always have these forces, but not necessarily a clear cut villain. And I think that it goes back very much to what we talked about what makes them unique. Because when you make a story, you have a limited amount of real estate, right? And the more time you spend on, you know, a Dr. Evil villain is time you're not spending with conflict that brings out your character, or with that troublesome antagonist who's a friend and an ally, but you can bond with them. And then both of you have to grow, right? It's less ways of developing the world I think about inside out right? Where you have maybe that clown or you have all these other things, but a lot of it is physical, and the main antagonist to make them antagonist is sadness. Right? She's the one who's stopping joy from making writing happy, and
Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
pushy. So passive aggressive. She's so passive aggressive isn't even funny. She's not like twirling her. She's just like, I'm sad. This is what I do. I'm sorry.
Dean Movshovitz 1:07:01
I mean, when you think about inside out the problem, and inside out, is that joy refuses to lead writing. I'd be happy if at the beginning of the film, don't like oh, yeah, sure, no problem. That would be sad. There'd be no movie. She is. She's the villain. But But the problem is with her. And so to an extent does that in a lot of their movies, the problem the real problem, right? Like Bug's Life has the grasshoppers, but I think the more Pixar went on, the more they went away from those real real villains. And even in Wally, right, where you have that auto pilot auto,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:39
yeah, the how, basically how,
Dean Movshovitz 1:07:41
yeah, basically how he's also he's trying to protect humanity, right. It's from a good place. And, and eventually they defeat him, of course, but he represents. He's an opposite of Wally in many ways. And if he had all the information, if he believed that Earth had a chance, he would let them come back. He just doesn't think they have a chance.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:06
It's It's remarkable, and I'm thinking of films in the Zeitgeist that have this non villain esque you know, because obviously Star Wars has Darth Vader. It's such a clear archetypal, you know, Hero's Journey story, but you look at a movie like Forrest Gump. I mean, for Forrest Gump. It's very Pixar esque. In the in its in its storytelling. I mean, without the drugs and the sex and stuff. But but the but there is no villain. Jenny is the closest thing we have to a villain and oh, no, listen, listen. Listen. Listen, we can have a conversation Jedi Jedi. Look if Jenny was out of forest his life completely. Yeah, you know? No, but Jenny is this close, like I said, as close to a villainous thing. And it's not something that she's trying to hurt forest. She's just who she is. She has sadness, doing what sadness does. And she's been doing it because of all of the baggage and things that she dealt with as a child that she carries along throughout her entire life. But Forrest, his main antagonist is the world who doesn't understand understand him. He just goes, you know, just completely oblivious to life. Just and in many ways, you know, I
Dean Movshovitz 1:09:22
never thought about it because it was just about as you were talking, I was like, What is Forrest Gump want? What is what is driving it? Like all these things we're talking about? It'd be you'd be hard pressed to say Oh, Forrest Gump deeply wants it maybe Jenny but even that doesn't you know, I don't think I wouldn't say the drive the whole film. And the way you said it with the world as an antagonist. I would say Forrest Gump is watching scene after scene of Forrest Gump goes to somewhere that won't accept them or that he shouldn't belong where that he shouldn't thrive at and finding a way, either through his sort of earnestness or through luck, where he does thrive there. Like that's literally what happens the entire movie scene.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:00
Yeah, the entire movie he just fails up. He failed. And that's I think one of the things that can't be good and it's also if you take the historical aspect out of Forrest Gump the story doesn't work like the, the leveling up constant like, Okay, he's a great football player why cuz he runs Why did he run because he ran away from bullies is just something he did. And then that takes him to okay now he went to Vietnam, how did he get there? Oh, here's Red Bull, and he meets three presidents. And he does. Like, if you take those aspects out within the story doesn't have, you know, it's just a dude just walking through life. But because everything gets amped up constantly like and we invested in this little fruit company called Apple, and we don't have to worry about money no more. Like it's it's a it's almost a dream like thing because you're like, man, wouldn't it be amazing if, if our if you know, as the person listens, like, wouldn't it be amazing to go through life? just constantly just winning without even trying? Yeah, but the one thing he can't win that
Dean Movshovitz 1:10:57
you're so vulnerable, like he succeeds, but he's also he's so
Alex Ferrari 1:11:00
yeah. But the one thing that he can't, the thing that he struggles for is Jenny. Yeah, Jen is the only thing he can't, it doesn't fall into his lap. Everything else falls into his lap, right, Jenny does not fall into his lap. And that is basically the arc like, you know, without Jenny, there's no movie. And if and Lieutenant Dan is just the whatchamacallit. He's he the
Dean Movshovitz 1:11:26
Alex Ferrari 1:11:26
Yeah, ally antagonists exactly through the whole thing. And he just kind of he doesn't really affect full force doesn't he changes but he doesn't change.
Dean Movshovitz 1:11:37
Or it doesn't change? No, I mean, he changes.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:41
Oh, everybody else around him changes.
Dean Movshovitz 1:11:42
Alex Ferrari 1:11:43
Even his mom, every every every character he touches changes perception thing. But so going back to Pixar, it is as close to a Pixar film as I could think of in the in the real world.
Dean Movshovitz 1:11:56
Yeah, yeah, that's true. I'm a fan. Think about movies, other movies don't have villains. And one movie that came to mind is, in a way, ordinary people. And I think people would rush to say, Oh, the moms the villain. But you can't you can't say that everyone there is so hurt and vulnerable. Everyone there. Like it's the situation where you know, the father can't lead. The mom is unable to to give the child the love He needs. He's going through his own thing that he needs to forgive. And so they're really just problems to each other. No one is. Literally, if you're talking about tailor made tasks or fees. The worst thing a mom like that could get is a child who needs her love of vulnerable childhood needs are love. The worst thing that Father character could get is a broken family that needs him to meet it. Right? It's separately, all of them are fine, just when you sort of put them in opposition to each other when the tragedy happens.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:59
Very cool. Now we can keep talking about Pixar for at least another five hours. But I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What are three Pixar screenplays and or movies that everyone should every screenwriter should study?
Dean Movshovitz 1:13:15
Hmm. So the first No. So instead out for sure, because it's the most original most dramatically complex. And another one, I'm debating between Ratatouille and Finding Nemo because those are my just two personal favorites. So let's let's cheat and put both of those number two, because number three is less about the writing and more about its message. And I think everyone who's pursuing something artistic or risky, should watch Monsters University. Yeah. Because Monsters University deals with a character who tries their best and exhaust every option and realizes they're not going to be who they want to be. And I'm not saying that to be defeatist, I, I think everyone should, and I'm living my life that way to pursue what they want, as best they can. But I think Monsters University message of Oh, even if you don't get that you can still become In my case, the best coach in town, the best care coach in town or anything else. I think that's very comforting. And I think if we talked about being more flexible with your image of yourself, then to me Monsters University exemplifies that.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:28
I would say that there this town LA is riddled with the corpses of film directors who thought they were going to be the next Spielberg. Because Because Spielberg it basically inspired multiple generations because he was such a popular, popular director that they were going to be the next Spielberg. And it's okay that you're not the next Spielberg. It's okay, it's okay. You know, Nolan wanted to be and Nolan and Fincher one To be the next Kubrick Yeah, they both they both actively said, we want to be the kind of the next Kubrick. But they ended up being the next Nolan the next Fincher. Yeah, you know, and obviously, that they're still at a very high level. Yeah. But not everybody is going to get to those levels, because that that's the upper echelon of any industry. Like, you're not going to be the best cookie chef ever. Like, you know, but if you make good cookies for people, and you love what you do, and you're happy, well, that's the dream, isn't it? Like,
Dean Movshovitz 1:15:36
Absolutely, that is the dream
Alex Ferrari 1:15:38
If you can be happy doing what you love to do, at whatever level you're at, then that's why a lot of people like, you know, a lot of times, you see in these films, you see a janitor, who's super happy. And he's just like, I just love my job. And for somebody else outside just like I don't, I don't understand that. But for them, that's happiness. You know, for you know, the, the guy who sells the hotdogs in the corner. For me, or like, if someone working at a job, like, you know, going to work everyday going to a cubicle, there are people in the world who love doing that I, I would, I would slit my wrists. Like I that's not who I am, you know, and people see what I do on a daily basis and go, you don't have a job. You don't have a steady income, like you don't have a check coming in every week. I'm like, dude, I've been doing that for 25 years, I've been a freelance. Oh, but that's I'm happy there. So it's, it's, it's really a definite definition that you have to make for yourself.
Dean Movshovitz 1:16:40
I can tell you I, I served in the Israeli army, and I was a computer programmer there. And almost all of my friends went on to have a career as computer programmers. And and some of them were very happy with it, some of them found ways to pivot. And a lot of them just have like, this is my job. And in my free time I'm doing all these things I get allows me to freedom and allows me to live my life this way. Like some people define themselves with their jobs. Some people define themselves in different like, everyone, you know, I have two friends who were very polar opposites. And it always used them as sort of my role models, because both of them create a life that is in their image. And I think that's really what everyone should aspire to. Now, what
Alex Ferrari 1:17:23
is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,
Dean Movshovitz 1:17:26
I would really go back to what we talked about earlier with the fixed and growth mindset. And I'll, I'll give you a very concrete example, when I finished college in Israel, I got a great job in New York City promoting Israeli cinema for Israel consulate. And it got me into film festivals and sort of working with Israeli filmmakers, and meeting all these artistic directors in New York. And I go to all these fun events, and I felt like sorry, and I felt like on top of the world, and then it ended and I got some job offers in the US, but they fell through because of a visa and went back to Israel. And suddenly I was like, wait, what, it's sort of all my plan that she was going to go from there somewhere. And it really made me sort of reassess myself and see, okay, if none of this happens, or if I don't have all these cool things in life, who am I independent of that. And really, that lesson of tying your happiness and tying your self esteem, not to accomplishments, not to external markers, but to your values, to your ambitions to your work. And that's it, that's not something I've learned, that's a direction I've learned to aspire to every day, I try to get better at it. Because I think I think you can be oblivious, or you can be preoccupied with your image when things are going well. But I think everyone at some point hits a bump in the road. And I think the way for those bumps to be less painful is to when you're writing high pivot to this mentality that is about your work, it's about how to be better in whatever you do at and retire to your to your values and to your effort to knock your achievements into sort of external
Alex Ferrari 1:19:22
markers. And where can people find out more about you and your where they can get your book and and get in contact with you.
Dean Movshovitz 1:19:30
So the book is available on Amazon. And they can sign me at Dean mops events.com where you can read a little more about the book, you can read a little more about me. That's where I talk a little bit more, a little more about my speaking engagement or sort of my screenwriting coaching side hustle and and I also have a project there right now where I'm going through the WGS top 101 screenplays. Whatever Seeing what lessons we can learn from each other. That's what's happening there.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:06
Very cool. Thank you so much, Dean for being on the show. It has been a wonderful walk down memory lane, to thinking about Pixar films again. And I know there's so many lessons storytellers can take from the Masters because they really have mastered the form in a way that not any other studio in Hollywood has done. There's nobody with their track record. So it is. They are a wealth of information and storytelling technique that I think every screenwriter should look at, regardless of genre. Regardless of what you're writing, you can learn something from watching and reading Pixar work. So thank you so much for shining a light on this processor.
Dean Movshovitz 1:20:48
Thank you, Alex. It was my pleasure. And I really feel like we could be going on for hours. So right, thank you.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:56
I want to thank Dean for coming on the show and sharing the secrets of the Pixar storytelling machine. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including a link to Dean's book, Pixar storytelling, just head over to the show notes at bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/089. And if you haven't already, please check out our new podcast inside the screenwriters mind, and it is a deep dive into the minds of some of the greatest screenwriters to ever work in cinema. It is an archive of the best interviews throughout the ifH Podcast Network. To take a listen head over to screenwriters mind.com. Thank you again for listening. As always, keep on writing no matter what. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.
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