First off, I'd like to start this post off with a Happy Birthday to my sister, Eve back in Chicago. Happy 15th! Yay!
Okay, and now I'd like to thank Brad Bird, Mark Andrews and all of Pixar (and Disney) for giving the character animation program at Calarts an exclusive premiere of the Incredibles on this amazing Monday. Pixar rented out a local theater in Valencia for us. Here's a picture of the long line waiting to get seats!
The Incredibles is THE BEST FILM EVER MADE! Well, tha'ts a matter of opinion but I've never had such a great experience watching a film before in my life. It's MY favorite movie ever! The movie is sooooo good! There isn't a bad scene in the entire film! Unbelievable! This film brings animation to a whole new level. Shane Prigmore, my animation teacher, told us that what we just saw was the best animated film ever made. It's so solid. He's seen it three times already and can't find a bad scene in it at all. Prigmore said that Brad Bird is the most decisive, maticulous director he's ever worked for so that explains why this movie was so perfect!
AFter the film, Brad Bird and Mark Andrews arrived at the theater for a Q and A forum. There were some interesting questions asked and Brad spoke in detail about everything.
- One question came up about what influenced him to make the Incredibles. He said that it was a combination of all the things he loved as a kid (comics, animation, super-heros, film) and his family life. He found he had a conflict between finding work that he loved to do (animation/ directing) and spending time with family. Keeping that balance and responsibilty is one of the themes in the "Incredibles".
- Someone asked him how he thought of the ideas for the characters. He said that Bob Incredible was the man of the house so he would be strong. His wife, Elastigirl, was a mother and we all know how mothers get pulled in every which way so that's why he gave her the stretch power. Dash is the son and since little boys are full of energy, Brad gave him speed. Violet is a typical insecure teenage girl so she has invisibility and force-field projection powers. I love how Brad thought each of the characters through and gave them powers that made sense. Awesome stuff.
- Brad Bird talked a little about one of the first rules he set when production began on "The Incredibles" at Pixar. He told everyone that every scene should include the mundane AND fantastic. He wanted to put the characters into real, believable situations that everyone can relate to and THEN have his characters react in their own fantastic way. There was a small clip in the Incredibles trailer that I feel would be OK to use as an example. The family is together at a dinner table and the kids start to fight. That's the "mundane" part and its a real situation that every ordinary person can relate to. But the Incredibles aren't an ordinary family. They have super powers so that's where you start playing around with the "fantastic". Mark Andrews, (head of story on the Incredibles) said that you can't just have a huge action sequence without injecting character moments into them. The best thing about action is the character. Put CHARACTER in every scene!
- I knew that a question about story would come up eventually. I think the question was about how Brad Bird develops story or something. His answer was really interesting. He said that there is no clear cut way to make a story. The more rules you learn about writing, the more you'll break them. He said that the more experience you get in making movies, the more mysterious they become. There are no FORMULAS. Ask yourself what YOU would want to see up there on screen. Pretend you're an audience. Surprise and delight your audience. Thing of stories that will entertain. Brad Bird highly recommends watching a lot of films and reading screenplays to get a feel for how they're written. Also, when you watch a film, ask yourself why you liked or didn't like the film and try to come up with solutions to the story problems. He said that this is a great mental exercise. You sometimes learn more from watching bad films just by analyzing what went wrong. Figure out why good movies are good. Why did you get that chill down your spine? There are no formulas to making scripts.
- I guess it sometimes seems that people like Brad Bird magically become good at what they do but Brad mad clear that he spent a lot of time banging his head against the wall. He just recently became successful.
- Brad Bird's favorite animated films are 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and Pinnochio. He also loves Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and a bunch of others but I couldn't write that fast. Damn. Mark Andrews favorite animated films are Lapita and Porico Doso. I don't know if I spelled those right.
- Brad Bird went to Calarts (along with John Lasseter and Tim Burton). He went to the school for two years and left because he was offered a job at Disney. The only reason he went to Calarts was to get hired at Disney so he figured it wouldn't be necessary to stay the last two years. Brad said that he sometimes regrets leaving early because being in school gives you an opportunity to work on your own films. When he arrived at Disney, it wasn't nearly as great as he always thought it would be. The old crew (9 Old Men) were retiring and a new group took the studio over. Brad Bird didn't like how things were turning out to be so he left Disney and got into TV animation. He was one of the main guys responsible for "The Simpsons". He expained that he had a choice between staying with Disney and doing full feature animation with bad ideas (which was the job that everyone wanted) or working on great ideas but in limited, cheaper animation. He decided to work on the great ideas and I think that decision helped make him awesome at story.
- Brad Bird decided to get into directing because he was sick of working on bad scenes. He figured that the only way he could work on better ideas is if he would be the one coming up with them.
- One of the biggest challenges in computer animation is animating humans but Brad Bird's goal was never to make "realistic" humans. He wanted to make stylized humans who felt real and can connect to people. Some of the most difficult technical problems that Pixar faced in the making of "The Incredibles" was hair, wet hair, hair under water, and fabric. On top of it, this film had four times more locations than any other Pixar film. Brad Bird said that there were some peole who doubted that it could be done but fortunately, others said "lets go"! That's why Pixar is FRIGGIN AWESOME!
Here are some quotes from Brad Bird and Mark Andrews that will hopefully inspire people to stick with their dreams.
- BB -"Figure out your trick"
- MA - "Don't ever lost PASSION! LIGHT THAT FIRE UP UNDER YOUR ASS! Don't EVER give up!"
- BB - "If you want to become a director you need to have PASSION for film. Brad's amazed at some people who aspire to become directors but they don't even have a film that they want to make. Brad Bird has tons of ideas and he's BURNING to make them!
- MA - "You Gotta be on FIRE!!"
- BB - "Stay focused, Calarts is a great school, remain passionate!"
Once the film was over, everyone was in shock and very excited so we decided to get together at Denny's and talk about the Incredibles for hours. We flipped through the "Art of Incredibles" thousands of times and discussed our favorite, most memorable scenes. The funny thing is that the whole movie is packed with amazing memorable scenes so we couldn't cover everything! I can't wait to see this film again! I've never wanted to see a film twice so bad in my life!
Oh, there are a couple of really cool references in the Incredibles that are directly related to Calarts since Brad Bird went to this school. There is the famous A113 reference which is in every Pixar film. A113 is a classroom in the character animation department. Also, there is a reference to the "D-Wing" which is another word for the "Rat's nest" at Disney studios. This is where all the animators were. And last, Shane Prigmore, my animation teacher IS DASH! Shane worked with Brad on the "Iron Giant" and I guess Brad used Shane as the inspiration for that character. When I think back at the movie, I remember the interesting mouth shapes that Dash had and I thought that they looked a little familiear. DUDE! It's totally Shane! How awesome is that?! My teacher is a charcter in the best movie ever!
I feel....so..so Super now! I can take on the world with my.. PENCIL! Ok, maybe not but here's a super incredible caricature of me drawn by my buddy Austin Madison (friggin' awesome artist).
Oh! And look what I have here!!! Brad Bird signed my sketchbook. I ran out to Border's to get a copy of the "Art of Incredibles" right after I saw him signing more stuff outside of the theater but I was tooooo late! Damn. Oh well, I still got his autograph!