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December 7, 2011

Just read a great short snippet of an interview with former Pixar writer/director Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, A Bug’s Life), talking about his new film, John Carter (of Mars, for those of you who read books).

The big point of the interview was about re-shoots and how he loves them. There’s a common thought in filmmaking that re-shoots are for who didn’t get it right the first time, and that there’s a bit of shame in doing them.

Relating this to other art forms, why do writers do more than one draft? Can’t they get it right the first time? What’s up with all those different versions of Van Gogh paintings? And why do pencils have erasers, anyway?

Live music and theatre are different of course, but even then – musicians who record do it again and again until they get it right.

In any other art form, doing it once would be ludicrous – a stunt, maybe, but not any real way to create something lasting. You finish the thing, look at it, see if it’s what you want, then re-do it until it is. Why is film different?

Of course, money and time is why film is different, but still…

The way Stanton knows that re-shoots are the way to go is because of the Pixar house style. And it’s pretty genius. Know why Pixar films are better than other films? Because you’re not seeing the first version. They make the film, finish it, watch it, then re-do it and make it better. Four times, according to Stanton.  What makes it to the theatre is the film remade many times, getting better with each re-do.

Of course, in animation, that’s a bit easier than in live-action, but his bigger point is: why are people ashamed of re-shoots? Why would you be embarrassed of doing anything you possibly can to make your movie better?

Looking forward to John Carter!

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