In the eventuality when I open my studio (What? Didn’t I tell you about that?) my model for production will always be Pixar. I’ve studied the studio for almost ten years since my graduate MBA studies, and most recently The Economist held a wonderful video interview with visionary Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull. I’ve posted the interview below, and if you are serious about being a filmmaker, you owe yourself the 30 minutes to listen to the way he thinks and the way Pixar operates.
Pixar is a company that is dedicated to the creation of strikingly original content. Even in its sequels, they manage to present something entirely different and new. At a time when the major studios are at the height of conservatism - just look at the box office, where sequels, adaptations and remakes are ruling - Pixar continues to churn out mind-bendingly original content. And it is the reason why they are successful, because when people go to see a Pixar film, they know they’ll take part in something they’ve never experienced before. That’s a guarantee.
Doing that entails embracing a hell of a lot of risk and uncertainty. I love that in the interview, Catmull declares that the most successful companies operate in a state of uncertainty. This couldn’t be more true, and it applies to filmmaking the most aptly. We have to take calculated risks, if not then we will get lost in the sea of output. Sure, I could make a hack-and-slash teen vampire movie and make some money, but if I really want to stand out, I need to take a risk with the genre. Which is what I’m trying with Lilith. It’s unknown if the film will succeed or fail, but I will always know that we pushed the envelope of what the genre provides, and it’s guaranteed that a film like it has never existed before. It’s got a genuine stamp of originality, and that’s a badge we all can wear with extreme pride.
But here’s the thing: Pixar doesn’t fail. And that’s a tribute to the culture of the organization and the commitment they show to their directors. And as you’ll see in the interview, they take that commitment extremely seriously, because in the end, filmmaking is as much as business as it is an art. I can’t think of a better way to run an organization - any organization - better than what Pixar does. They are a model company, and the scary thing is that they will never rest on their laurels, they are always changing, always trying to improve by taking calculated risks.
Enjoy and learn, as I have.http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2010/inside-pixars-leadership/