The Oscars: Going Up Again with Docter
BD: Reminds me of something Dr. Eric Haseltine said last fall at the VES Production Summit: Storytelling should be an emotional experience that makes us feel more alive.
PD: Exactly, you just want to affect people and, for me, that's mostly done through character and character interaction. Obviously, there are a lot of ways to reach people and different people are poked by different things and respond to different things: the visceral quality of a race or an explosion.
BD: The kids like the adventure and the antics of the dogs and I think they're ultimately moved by the father/son story.
PD: Yeah, to me, what movies are really about are characters interacting with each other and changing each other.
BD: Was the most difficult writing challenge figuring out what happens when they reach Paradise Falls?
PD: Not really, we had some ideas and the trip to Venezuela with about 10 of us helped a lot as well, not only from a design point but also giving us some story ideas: the introduction of characters, being mistaken for rock shapes and things -- that all came out of our experiences down there. Once we had the dots to connect to make the story arc work, how exactly and where those dots were, how it all happened was negotiable. It's funny: the parts of the story that were hardest to land in terms of those sections where they meet the different characters, they didn't change much. The more difficult ones were Muntz, which is discussed on the DVD.
BD: Right, it was difficult figuring out when and how to dispose of him so that it didn't overwhelm Carl's journey.
BD: What would you say is the biggest improvement you've made as a director on Up?
PD: Hmm, that's a good question. Well, I think I got better at communicating and understanding what everybody brings to the party and what information they need to do their job. It became more efficient, I was able to speak more clearly about what I was after and also, hopefully, allowed to artists to bring more of their own ideas to the table. You start to realize these guys -- I knew this all along -- are talented folks and they have great ideas, so, instead of saying, "I want this on frame 7 and then on frame 20 it should be here," I can say more generally, "I need a sense of anxiety here. How do we get that?" And help bring better ideas to the table.
BD: It's been an especially great year for animation, and such a diverse group of nominees. What are your impressions?