Guess What I just Saw Posted by James Baker on March 12, 2006 Film/TV, Work Tagged with: Cars, Joe Ranft, Pixar Mar 122006 21 Responses to “Guess What I just Saw” roque says: March 13, 2006 at 12:38 AM AND??!! Reply Jamie Baker says: March 13, 2006 at 12:35 PM I really enjoyed CARS very much, but it’s harder for me to be objective about this film because I worked on it. (In the case of the INCREDIBLES I felt free to gush and gush I did). The CARS trailer has gotten a less than favourable buzz from people who say that they have no interest in racing and so forth. But I think the film will win over all the Nascar haters, because the story isn’t about “cars” at all… any more than NEMO was about fish. And by the way, I worked on NEMO too and I clearly remember that the pre-release buzz on that movie was very negative… it really bummed me out reading some of those comments in the months leading up to the release. As we all know that particular film went on to become Pixar’s biggest hit to date. Reply Anonymous says: March 14, 2006 at 1:12 PM Is the next film going to be about cardboard boxes then? If it doesn’t have anything to do with cardboard boxes, will it still be good anyway? I am sure the Story will be good, But I don’t think I want to spend 120 minute looking at a protagonist and his friends that are cars with a faces on them. I think Johns next film will be about Hawaiian Shirts; now that he has done everything else he likes (Toys, and Cars). Story is very important, but if you have no interest in the protagonist, then why would I want to go on a journey with them. I know it sounds mean to say these things, but after the Incredibles, that had so much appeal for so many people, it looks like Pixar stepped Backwards. Reply Jamie Baker says: March 14, 2006 at 6:25 PM Anonymous>>I agree with you when you say: “if you have no interest in the protagonist, then why would I want to go on a journey with them” That is very true. But where we disagree is that my interest in the protagonist comes from his story, what his problems and goals are. Not his appearance. I don’t think that I am alone in this; many people who care nothing at all for fish, toys or superheroes enjoyed the films that Pixar made about those subjects, because they were pulled in by the story. That was the point I was trying to make earlier. You may find superheroes an appealling subject (as do I) but I can tell you that many people I know had no desire to see the Incredibles because they dismissed it ahead of time as being just some “silly movie about men in tights”. And yet those particular people enjoyed the film when they were dragged to it. And more to the point, even though it was my favourite Pixar film by far, the Incredibles didn’t do as well at the box-office as Nemo. So we can only conclude that many people stayed away from watching the Incredibles because they didnt find the concept of superhero protagonists as appealling as say, fish. (Much as you say you find car-protagonists unappeallling). Wouldn’t you agree with me (as another fan of that film) that it is a shame that less people gave the Incredibles a chance (than Nemo)? In another vein, I remember years ago some people I knew had no desire to watch ET because it had a protagonist that was an alien, and not just any alien; the ugliest little oyster you’ve ever seen. But those people were in love with that guy by the end of the picture.. I admit that it would be a challenge to make a story about cardboard boxes, but if you have ever seen any of the Pixar shorts (from before their feature films began) that feature protagonists who are Lamps, unicycles or other inanimate objects, perhaps you’d agree with me that they could pull it off… by telling a good story. Your post is typical of the sort of “negative buzz” that I was talking about. Written by people who haven’t seen the film that they are hating. And as I say, reading that sort of thing about something I worked on DOES bum me out, especially in my own blog. But at the end of the day, there is no obligation on you to watch the film if it holds no interest for you, and unless you’ve actually seen it there isn’t much more to discuss on this particular subject. Reply BKO says: March 14, 2006 at 4:28 PM WOW! There is always that anonymous person who doesn’t like cars. I personally hate pig piggybanks and old stuffed cowboy dolls, loved both Toy Story movies though. I can’t wait for the cardboard box movie they were talking about!!!!! Reply Anonymous says: March 14, 2006 at 8:16 PM Hi Again, I really am interested in this subject. And how you get someone to see a film they are not interested in. Like I said earlier, It sounds mean to say, but it is an interesting subject and it is my opinion. I appreciate your well thought out answer, and to tell you the truth, I will probably see it, because my little boy loves cars, and trucks. It is just hard to get excited about it is all. It sounded like you guys thought I was bashing the film before I even saw it. I was just trying to start a conversation about how you get a person on board to see a film that you dislike the protagonist right off the bat. It’s a hard problem to solve in a 1 to 2 minute trailer. Thanks for listening. I am just happy you’re not going the Dreamworks route of fart jokes and sarcasm with no plot. I will never see another one of their films again. I guess you can only pull things out of your head that you known about or experienced. Poor Dreamworks story department must not have any family life or heart felt experiences. Garbage in Garbage out. Reply Daniel Davis says: March 15, 2006 at 10:39 AM I’m glad you liked Cars. I wasn’t very excited about either Nemo or Monsters Inc., until I actually saw more of them than the first trailer. Now, after seeing them, I love ’em. You make a great point Jamie, about the story of a character creating interest for that character/movie. Tell me a great story, and I don’t really care what it’s about. You’ll win me over. I can’t say that I’ve been very interested in Cars that much; however, the more I see about it, the more I get taken in by it. The only Pixar movie that grabbed me immediately was the Incredibles and Toy Story. On a side-note, I just showed the Cars trailer to my son Kaid (3.5 yrs old), and he freakin’ LOVES it. Now, every tractor, dumptruck and matchbox is a racecar! I can see that this is probably going to join all the other Pixar staples in his/our collection. Reply Jamie Baker says: March 15, 2006 at 2:58 PM Daniel>>I hear you. The Pixar film that I was personally most intersted in were TOY STORY and INCREDIBLES, but in the end I wound up loving them all. I hope your little boy enjoys the film. The key will be to get in the little girls too (and the big boys and girls as well). Anonymous>>The internet is vast, and there are many places for you to open a discussion on any subject or in any tone of voice or that you choose. But this isn’t a public forum, it is my blog, so it should be obvious that I am only open to a certain tone of discussion. Plus, in my very first post on this subject I stated two things clearly; the first is that I am not able to be objective about this particular film because I worked on it. The second is that negativity about the projects I work on does have an effect on my mood. Given those things, perhaps this isn’t the best place for your particular discussion? And even if it were, opening with rhetorical questions about whether the next film from Pixar will be about cardboard boxes or Hawaiian shirts isn’t the best opening gambit if you want to begin a discussion on this topic? As a story artist, I have no input over what films get a green light. The approach that Pixar has used, with great success, is that the director of each film chooses a story and a subject that they are passionate about and that fuels the process on down the line. John Lassiter is equally passionate about Cars as a subject and the story he has chosen to tell with them, and that enthusiasm is infectious. If you want a discussion on the subject of marketing, perhaps it is best to open (in your first post) with a question closer to the point, such as “how can you market this film to people who have no interest in cars?” But unfortunately I know little about that either. That is not what I do. So my input is no better than anyone else’s, but i will try to address your question (from your second post): “I really am interested in this subject. And how you get someone to see a film they are not interested in.” then you answered your own question when you said this: “I will probably see it, because my little boy loves cars, and trucks.” There you have the classic marketing strategy of an animated film; you get adults to go because they will have to take their kids. I think that the trailer for a Pixar Film (or any animated film for that matter) is designed to have an immediate appeal for at least one member of the family (the kids usually). Then Mum and Dad get dragged along, and in the case of a well made film they wind up enjoying it despite themselves, and the “word of mouth” phenomenon begins. Honestly, how many adults were interested in “Toy Story” based on the trailer? I mean, apart from die-hard animation fans? Very few I think. They went to see it because they HAD to take their kids, and then, Lo and behold, the adults enjoyed it as much, if not more than their children. They couldn’t believe their luck! And they spread the good news at the office on Monday: “If you gotta sit through a kiddie movie with the kids, Toy Story is the one!” So, it that sense CARS is no different than the other Pixar films. The target for the trailers is usually the kid audience, and the complaints being bandied about on the web are all posted by “grown-ups.” Reply Mister Tan says: March 15, 2006 at 3:38 PM Can’t we all just get along and just talk about Nightwatch? Just kidding Jamie… Hey I din’t like the look of this movie last year either, but the latest trailer made me want to see it… Hey Jamie did Owen Wilson do the voice for the race car? sam Reply Jamie Baker says: March 15, 2006 at 3:44 PM Sam>> Ah yes, Nightwatch… now there was a civilised discussion… What is it with all y’all comin’ in here with your buzz-kill, maulin’ my good times? In answer to your question, yes OWEN WILSON does the lead voice. Reply Brian McD says: March 15, 2006 at 4:25 PM I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t expect much from CARS. But I keep saying that story is king at Pixar and that people will be surprised. I am not surprised to hear you dug the film. Thanks for starting the positive buzz. Reply Jamie Baker says: March 15, 2006 at 4:31 PM Brian>> Yes, the Negative Buck stops, and the Positive Buzz starts here! Hear Hear! To everyone else who may have any interest in the art and craft of storytelling please click on Brian’s name and be teleported to his excellent INVISIBLE INK blog Reply DerekMonster says: March 15, 2006 at 8:38 PM FIRST off, thanks for all the thoughtful observations about CARS, jamie…and everyone. SECOND, i’m getting more and more annoyed by the fact that people can’t seem to look past the first couple of CARS trailers with anything but doubt and bile and some sudden willingness to doubt that PIXAR would deliver anything other than a GREAT film…i mean, LOOK at the track record! these trailers ( as well as for MOST films, probably..) are cut together by the studios or advertisting agencies, not necessarily put together by PIXAR….how often are the best trailers we see end up being for really shitty movies ?? and the weak trailers for surprisingly good films? THIRD, people, by and large, throughout the world, as far as i can see, LOVE CARS. THEY LOVE CARS. i think this movie will be HUGE. FOURTH AND FINAL- i also saw the movie and i though it was great. really, really soulful and moving and beautiful to watch. Reply Jamie Baker says: March 16, 2006 at 4:14 PM Derek>> Thanks for your input. There aren’t many other people who have seen this movie yet so your feedback about the movie is nice to hear. Anonymous>>In your second post you said: “I am just happy you’re not going the Dreamworks route of fart jokes and sarcasm with no plot. I will never see another one of their films again. I guess you can only pull things out of your head that you known about or experienced. Poor Dreamworks story department must not have any family life or heart felt experiences. Garbage in Garbage out.” I happen to know that Dreamworks is full to the brim with talented interesting people, including the story department (some of the best story artists I’ve ever worked with are working there right now). It isn’t fair to assume that a movie you don’t like is made by people you wouldn’t respect if you met them. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it takes just as much hard work by talented people to make the movies that you don’t like as it does to make the movies that you love. I have been lucky enough to work on at least one film loved by millions, but I’ve also worked on animated garbage that no one wants to see again, and I can honestly say that I was working hard, side by side with many talented people on the bad stuff too. It is an interesting issue though; why isn’t hard work by talented people enough to make a great movie? Because talent and hard work are PART of the formula for success but they alone aren’t enough. The “culture” of the studio, the process itself, schedule, budget etc, all need to be taken into account. Plus, the people with the talent and know how need to be empowered to use it, with enough time to do the job right, and sadly, that isn’t always the case. PS: All fart jokes are not created equal; I happen to like a GOOD fart joke but I’m Australian, so there you go… Reply Alan says: March 19, 2006 at 9:04 AM “All fart jokes are not created equal” Very true words Mr. Baker. Reply Jamie Baker says: March 19, 2006 at 12:33 PM That was me at my most profound…. Reply giantmonster says: March 31, 2006 at 5:17 PM i really don’t understand what any of this has to do with Snakes on a Plane. that’s what we should be talking about here. or the possible S.a.o.P. sequel that ties into the holiday season called “Snakes On A Plane II: Merry Hiss-mass.” it could happen. Reply Seo says: April 11, 2006 at 6:30 PM Just wanna say… I have no interest at all in cars, and I admit that when I heard about it, I was prepared to not watch it (Robots is one that I haven’t been motivated to see) but I just watched the trailer for Cars and I am totally reeled in. It looks great and I can’t wait to watch it. You’re right, it really doesn’t matter what the subject matter is but the stories and characters make a good movie. (gonna try to get a hold of robots, to see how that is… I just haven’t heard anything great about it and I don’t know what its about either.) Reply Jamie Baker says: April 12, 2006 at 9:48 AM Seo- thanks for coming by. I am glad that you liked the CARS trailer enough to decide to give the movie a chance. I don’t think that you will be disappointed. I saw ROBOTS and thought it was amusing and certainly there are a lot of luscious visuals in there. Some people felt that the story was a little thin, and perhaps that is so, but it may give you some smiles anyway. Worth a rental for sure. Reply Dan Bois says: June 12, 2006 at 9:11 AM Jamie- I saw Cars this weekend. You guys & Gals did an outstanding job. Excellent all round. I liked a lot of the little touches & how every thing was car shaped. I really dug the tire track cirrus clouds. Cool. I’ll see you @ San Diego Comic -Con. Dan Reply Jamie Baker says: June 12, 2006 at 9:15 AM Thank you, Dan. I am glad you liked CARS and took the time to say so. I think there are enough people out there enjoying the movie for it to do well. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; Not everyone likes the idea of a world devoid of humans… but I don’t mind hearing even a negative opinion if it is from someone who has actually SEEN THE FILM rather than just the trailer, or the pre-release publicity… Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your Comment You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> Name (required) E-mail (required) URI This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.