Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lasseter Animosity?

A commenter below asks:

.. [W]hat is this whole deal about John Lasseter being a hated man anyway? ...

Say what? I've got minimal clues about any "deal" regarding negative feelings toward Mr. Lasseter.

I've never heard very much about John Lasseter being "hated." I'm sure somebody somewhere in the business might possess strong dislike, but it seldom if ever reaches me. (I occasionally run into John at Disney; we exchange pleasantries and that's it. I have no other contact with him.)

Now, there are veteran animation artists to whom I've talked who are somewhat cynical and jaded about John's deification in the media, but most everybody I know respects his talent. John has an approach, sensibility and point of view regarding animation that has been very successful, and has helped make newer Disney features better than what came immediately before. His approach is not to everyone's taste, but what approach is?

Equally important, John Lasseter has instituted a policy at Walt Disney Animation Studios that has been a force for good: Creators now get to make the product, and administrators -- most of whom should be nowhere near the creative process -- are no longer giving dim-bulb notes that everyone needs to follow. This change alone is a huge improvement. (Disney Feature in the late nineties was exactly the opposite. Many of the division's twenty-three Vice Presidents weighed in on the direction of development and how features should go, and creative staff bitched about it constantly. And most of the features from that era speak for themselves.)

The unhappiness regarding Disney that's come to me the last few years is not about the movies or Lasseter per se. The unhappiness I've encountered revolves around staffing and personnel policies. There have been times when I've walked into the Hat Building and found the gloom in some departments pervasive. Everybody was working their backsides off on a project they liked and believed in, (Tangled is a recent example; there have been others), but many employees were staring layoff notices in the face. Hard as it is to believe, this isn't conducive to creating joy and gladness, no matter how high-quality the picture being worked on might be.

It's fine for management to mouth platitudes about how the goal is to make employees happier and more fulfilled, to keep most everybody on, etc., etc. But when, year after year, those fine things never happen, portions of the staff become ... what's the right phrasing? ... somewhat disenchanted. (Disney supervisors often say that they don't hear any of this negative stuff, but why would they? No lower level employees with survival instincts bitch to the people in charge, particularly when they see wave after wave of layoffs and want to be rehired one day. But they sure as hell bitch to me.)

My view about Walt Disney Animation Studios has been pretty consistent: the Mouse makes good animated movies, and has many employees with low morale because of the staffing policies. (Please note that a lot of the Disney workers with lower morale are currently laid off.)

But honestly, I don't see a lot of "Lasseter hate." The hate, such as it is, gets directed at others.

112 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only place I've seen direct "Lasseter hate" is on Disney "fan-forums." It seems those that are hardcore nuts for classic Walt films are not big fans of Lasseter. Which doesn't really make sense to me.

Here's hoping that the staffing policies make a turn for the better soon. The artists at Disney deserve it.

Mr. Knowitall said...

I know many proven talented CG animators who applied to Pixar but were not hired or even acknowledged that they considered them. From what I have heard, Pixar meets their hiring needs from animators fresh out of school and pays them low. And they get away with the low pay because it is such an honor to work on Pixar movies.

So yeah, not much of a fan of the always-in-a-Hawaiian-shirt guy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sure that:

Jan Pinkava
Chris Sanders
Dean Deblois
Brenda Chapman
John Sanford
Aaron Blaise
Robert Walker
Karen Dufilho-Rosen
Sam Levine

and a lot of other talented people that Lasseter screwed over, simply adore him!!

Yes, I'm sure that "creators now get to make the product" as long as they do exactly what Lasseter tells them to do. You can have "creative freedom" as long as you don't "creatively" disagree with him or else you get the boot!

But let's put this debatable subject aside and let's talk about the problems of the everyday artist.

So, who is to blame for the unfair staffing and personnel policies at Disney and Pixar and the overall working conditions? You're telling me it's not Lasseter and Catmull to blame?

If Katzenberg is credited for the great work conditions at DreamWorks which is now considered the 6th best company to work for, how come it's NOT Lasseter's and Catmull's responsibility for the working environment and policies at Disney and Pixar??

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:32, your comment is priceless. The hatred comes from supplicants praying at a temple to Pixar and throwing tantrums when the god inside doesn't respond to them personally. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

"screwed over?"

Hardly.

Most of them quit. Some couldn't cut it. I hear sanders' new film the croods had a screening this week where no one could make heads or tailes of it (and I saw American Dog while at Disney--one of the most incredibly obtuse story reels ever. Dean Dublois? How? Aaron Blaise? John Sanford? Never heard of them. Karen-Dufilho-Rosen? Missin important deadlines seems a good reason as any to get rid of incompetence.

But as usual in animation, bitterness reigns.

Can't stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that make people great is their willingness to cut the weak links.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it makes them "great," but it allows for greater focus. This is the main problem of the gNOp--they expect something for nothing, and are more interested in legislating people's personal , private lives than improving the country as a whole. They look backwards wioth bitterness rather than forward with imagination, gusto, and hope.

Derrick said...

One of the things that make people great is their own propaganda beside a billionaire and greedy multinational conglomerate, supported by the collective success of another company.

Anonymous said...

Most of them quit. Some couldn't cut it. ... Missin important deadlines seems a good reason as any to get rid of incompetence.

As I read that litany of excuses for things not working out with such talented people, I'm reminded of the reasons I heard for JL himself being fired from Disney back in the day. Seems he couldn't accomplish much unless he got other people on board to do the heavy lifting. He just didn't work that hard, and wasn't that productive, though he did have decent ideas.

Of course, he used that firing to his advantage, especially since he spun it as his choice to leave. And at the nascent Pixar, he found an eager, willing group who would do all the heavy lifting, allowing him to be a superstar.

Sometimes getting pushed out of a place is for the best.

Anonymous said...

"So, who is to blame for the unfair staffing and personnel policies at Disney and Pixar and the overall working conditions? You're telling me it's not Lasseter and Catmull to blame?

If Katzenberg is credited for the great work conditions at DreamWorks which is now considered the 6th best company to work for, how come it's NOT Lasseter's and Catmull's responsibility for the working environment and policies at Disney and Pixar??"

Steve, could you reply to this comment an anon made since I've been wondering about this too.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"I've never heard very much about John Lasseter being "hated"."

Really?, have you even seen the snarky comments in this blog, Steve?

Steve Hulett said...

Dweebs typing in their mothers' basements don't count.

Steve Hulett said...

But as usual in animation, bitterness reigns.

Can't stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen.


The mid-level Disney animators, lighters, surfacers et al weren't laid off for incompetence, or missing deadlines, or any of that.

They were laid off because there was nothing in the production pipeline to go onto.

Why? Because development at Disney was thin.


Now we'll get all the angry alibis saying "Yeah, but ...". But when you strip away the bark, that's the basic, underlying reason for low morale the past few years.

Steve Hulett said...

... who is to blame for the unfair staffing and personnel policies at Disney and Pixar and the overall working conditions? You're telling me it's not Lasseter and Catmull to blame?

I wouldn't characterize Disney staffing/personnel policies as "unfair."

The division has a policy of laying crew off at the end of a project when there is nothing else go on. (Nothing unusual about that. Disney and every other animation studio did the same thing thirty years ago.)

What bothers me is the lip service that's given to retaining staff, except retention never seems to happen. I've been hearing about it for years. But the reality is something else.

Hiring crew, laying off crew, then hiring crew would be less irritating if they just said that's what they're doing. It's the corporate disingenuousness that bothers people.

(To be fair here: Many of the staff hired for Tangled were told up front it was a nine or twelve month gig. But there were years before that of sizable layoffs after management said there wouldn't be many layoffs. My riff here is:

Just be upfront about what you're doing. Don't lie. Everybody figures out the reality pretty quick, all on their own. You'll get credit for being honest, so be honest.)

Steve Hulett said...


Jan Pinkava
Chris Sanders
Dean Deblois
Brenda Chapman
John Sanford
Aaron Blaise
Robert Walker
Karen Dufilho-Rosen
Sam Levine


There is also a long list of directors who haven't worked out under Jeffrey Katzenberg.

This doesn't particularly bother me. If the lead on a picture isn't measuring up to top management's expectations, he or she departs. That's the way it's worked since movies started.

(The statements proclaiming that "The director is in charge!" are a tad hyperbolic. Directors in animation are only in charge until the head guy doesn't want them to be.)

Anonymous said...

"irectors in animation are only in charge until the head guy doesn't want them to be"

That's true in live action too--but the dga tends to have a bit more bite.

Anonymous said...

"If Katzenberg is credited for the great work conditions at DreamWorks which is now considered the 6th best company to work for, how come it's NOT Lasseter's and Catmull's responsibility for the working environment and policies at Disney and Pixar??""

Who said katzenberg is responsible for this? I'm quite sure he's happy to take credit for it--like everything else. But I seriously doubt it's true.

Anonymous said...

If Disney is project to project, perhaps many people don't understand that when they are let go after a show and ultimately blame the guys in charge. They are obviosly trying to run lean and save money until they have a need or a hit film again.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:27 - yes, JK is responsible for any conditions that are good at DW. He's also responsible for anything that is bad there as well - even if others in charge behave badly he is the one who put them into a postion of power so he is utlimately responsible.
What he is mostly responsible for is the consistency of work and employment there. That's why most people like DW far above Disney or Pixar (though Pixar is also despised for their lower than scale wages).
My guess is that even though JL would like to think he has the exact same power as Jeffrey or Walt, he doesn't and has to answer to those above him. If that's not the case then he is responsible for lack of development (this might be true even if he has to answer to others) and for bad work conditions - if there are any.

The question for those working at Disney is does he show respect to all the artists even if he has to fire a director now and then? Jeffrey, despite removing directors now and then, does indeed show great respect and comradarie with the artists. Or, at least, as much as someone in his postion can.

Steve addressed the matter of removing directors and how it happens everywhere, but I think the bigger issue with JL is he is willing to remove a director who brought the project to him and I can't recall JK ever doing that. Of course, most of the projects are his to begin with so it might be apples and oranges.

Anonymous said...

Who said katzenberg is responsible for this?

Actually, ask anyone at DreamWorks, and they'll tell you Katzenberg IS, more than anyone else, responsible for it. The man is intimately involved in the operations of the studio. While he has backed away from many day-to-day decisions, both creative and businesswise, the studio runs the way he wants it to run.

There are plenty of people who would like to blame him for everything they see as wrong with DreamWorks animation, and somehow those same people don't want to give him credit for running a tremendously successful studio. The knife cuts both ways.

If Disney is project to project, perhaps many people don't understand that when they are let go after a show and ultimately blame the guys in charge.

People don't understand it when they are told one thing ("We're family, we're in it for the long haul, we love you, don't worry, just work hard and we'll keep you on") and it turns out to be something else. Lot's of animation professionals work project to project, without bitterness, because the studio they're working for is up front about it. Disney management has been talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Anonymous said...

That's just it: Disney ISNT project to project. Its just that they staff up when they're behind, and some of the people they bring on are better than the staff.

Then what?

Anonymous said...

The question for those working at Disney is does he show respect to all the artists even if he has to fire a director now and then?

Iger didn't pay that money for JL and Catmull to NOT run Disney as they see fit. They have as much power as they can handle. The problem is, Catmull is a technocrat with no feel for filmmaking, and no feel for people. Plus he is deeply suspicious of anything outside the Pixar bubble. He's a technology and numbers guy who talks one game and plays another.

JL is spread waaaaay too thin, and as someone else above posted, he's never been a compulsive worker or a details guy (in this way, he's the exact opposite of Katzenberg). JL's involvement in Tangled, for example, has been vastly overrated. He even apologized to the crew at the screening for being so busy with Cars 2. He's simply not around enough in Burbank for the question of how much respect he shows the crew to even be meaningful.

Anonymous said...

That's just it: Disney ISNT project to project.

Compared to DreamWorks or Pixar, they absolutely are. Compared to Disney of the recent past, they absolutely are.

Its just that they staff up when they're behind

Simply not true. For example, right now there is not sufficient crew to make a full feature at Disney. When something goes into full production, a substantial portion of the crew will need to be hired. That's the definition of project-to-project.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Management just needs to stop claiming it's otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

I would like to address some of your comments on the post..

"John Lasseter has instituted a policy at Disney.. Creators now get to make the product.."

This is not true.. Most of the current directors are scared of John and are afraid to make any real creative decision without John's approval.. the directors with any real individual creative voice have left or is on their way leaving to Dreamworks!

In a interview with Ed Catmull on the structure of giving notes to directors, he specifically states that no one person should have the power to push the director to address his notes, but this is obviously not the case with John, who has pushed out a lot of great talent from both Disney and Pixar (Brenda Chapman, Doug Sweetland, Chris Sanders, Aaron Blaise, and possibly Glen Keane) because they simply didn't agree with his notes..

but Steve, you would say.. " If the lead on a picture isn't measuring up to top management's expectations, he or she departs".. But you have to understand, John is a horrible film maker!! I have first hand experience on seeing a great film by both Glen Keane and Dean degenerate in to the most superficial typical disney film mostly because of his notes!!! It was mortifying seeing him go to a comic con interview saying .."the guys at disney just really wanted to make a musical.." when it was his agenda that he pushed on to the new directors! There have been more than many good examples of how his decision making has ruined anything creative and inspiring at the studio!! Ironically, all the things that pixar was originally rebelling against: 1. director-driven films, 2. sequels that don't warrant sequels, 3. no godamn musicals, he has put the same box on the artists at Disney Feature..

and for the comment that JL is spread too thin.. I would love for the directors to make up their own decisions instead of constantly asking themselves.. "but is John going to like this".. the whole studio as well!! John isn't some god of animation, he isn't a parent, and he sure is hell isn't someone I respect as a artist!

and for Anonymous @ 7 AM

Chris Sander's How To Train Your Dragon kills Cars and the new Cars 2 trailer in terms of heart, sincerity, filmmaking, appeal..etc


"and has helped make newer Disney features better then what came before.."

Anonymous said...

let me ask who instituted the new Tinkerbell movies..?

Anonymous said...

The first Tinkerbell movie was in production before the Pixar merger. JL reviewed it, made they basically redo the whole thing, and then signed off on the rest of the series. He has publicly stated that he's proud of them.

Anonymous said...

'they' = 'them' as in '...made them basically redo the whole thing...'

Anonymous said...

I don't know how bad the Tink film was before JL 'fixed' it, but the entire series has become so horrible that it compares poorly to the Care Bears not to mention the "cheapquels". They contain some of the crappiest storytelling imaginable.

Not to mention they have never replaced the revenue generated by the Princess line

Anonymous said...

Ummm... I don't know what movies what YOU'RE watching, but everyone I've talked to about them is in agreement that they're leagues ahead of any of the 'cheapquels'... both storytelling wise and animation wise. And each one is better than the last, in my opinion.

Steve Hulett said...

... But you have to understand, John is a horrible film maker!!

According to who? Certainly not the box office.

When you get into things like "bad" or "good", you move into the area of subjectivity. Studios have minimal interest in things like that. Sure, it's nice if all the important critics like their movie, but what do the entertainment conglomerates want and care about?

Big Box Office.

Guess what? John Lasseter delivers that ingredient. So what John Lasseter wants, John Lasseter gets.

I have first hand experience on seeing a great film by both Glen Keane and Dean degenerate in to the most superficial typical disney film mostly because of his notes!!!

Gee. I have first-hand experience (like a week ago) standing three feet from Glen Keane and listening to him rhaspodize about what a terrific film Tangled is, how he thinks it's the greatest.

So let's see. We've got you, Mr. Anonymous, claiming without attribution "first-hand experience" about Glen's vision being wrecked.

And then you've got little me (with name in blue) telling you first-hand that Keane thinks the film is terrific. So who you think people are going to believe? Somebody identifiable who is naming names? Or you, who claims Lasseter's films are "horrible," and that everybody is "scared."

(I'm sure Glen Keane -- comfortably well off and looking at all his options -- is quaking in his boots.)

Here is what counts, anon.:

Tangled = $551 million (worldwide box office).

Toy Story 3 - $1 billion (worldwide box office).

I think Diz Co. is gonna keep riding the "horrible" train, don't you?

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

Right On, Anon 8:25!

Anonymous said...

Steve - don't hurt them too much.

As the anonymous commenter who instigated this whole post - this thread section is an example of exactly why I asked about the "deal." It just seems like there is a number from the animation community who thinks JL is bad news.

I recall the post a while back on cartoonbrew talking about how Brenda Chapman got replaced off of the film she created up at Pixar (Brave). There were a number of animators that piped up and alluded to the upper ups (JL?) pushing away more talent. This community's very own Floyd Norman was one of the animators who weren't happy with the change, if I remember correctly.

I suppose Keane's situation could be different. But I was wondering if you've heard grumblings from folks like Chris Sanders, etc. As you said though, some haven't worked well under Katzenberg and jumping over to join the crew at Disney/Pixar... but for some reason we don't hear about those guys that much.

Anonymous said...

Hey steve,

John delivers that ingredient? What about the box office for the movies before tangled? Pfrog? Bolt? Tinkerbell? Wilbur? Was john any less involved with those productions? It just seems like its a tendency to attribute success with john and forget to attribute the failures as well..

According to who? how about these great artists that left because of his horrible notes..

1. Doug Sweetland
2. Brenda Chapman
3. Chris Sanders
4. Aaron Blaise
5. Sam Levine

Personally, for me I respect the opinion of these artists then John.. the box office numbers is a bad argument because you seem to be ignoring the other films that failed.. john's decisions do not attribute to bigger box office numbers!

Steve Hulett said...

Anon 11:35 --

Dismissals and departures from studios go on all the time. Somebody is always unhappy when it happens. (I got canned from Disney under Jeffrey K. But it was long ago and who really cares anyway? I got over it. Life is too short to nurse endless grudges.)

John Lasseter is the subject of envy and hate and probably lots of other things. He's made his mark on animation and everybody will take their shots. Some of the pictures made on his watch I like less than others, but my personal tastes are really beside the point. He's a hugely successful commercial film-maker who made the Disney Company massive amounts of money. That's why Disney invested in him and continues to back him.

... and to Anon 11:42:

Tinkerbell is a successful video franchise. Meet the Robinsons was 3/4's done when Lasseter came to the studio. Bolt, while not a massive hit, made money. I have no doubt that the video series Planes will make lots of money.

I'm not here to defend Mr. Lasseter. He's not fond of unions, and he has his detractors (and I've talked to some who have worked around him.) But you seem to have this virulent dislike that clouds your thinking. You disparage Tangled and said how Lasseter wrecked Glen's vision, yet I've just quoted Glen as thinking the film is great.

Now, maybe Glen stood in the Hat Building and lied on the subject, but I tend to think not. Disney has made the judgement that Mr. Lasseter adds value to their brand. You don't. I get that you don't like the quality of John's work, but I'm not arguing quality. I'm arguing box office.

Go e-mail the studio accountants. Maybe they'll listen to you.

Anonymous said...

oh snap!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a different Anon,

Your box office argument is a fallacy.

"Meet the Robinsons was 3/4's done when Lasseter came to the studio. Bolt, while not a massive hit, made money."

JL had the Robinson's team redo the entire second and third acts. "3/4's done"? yeah right. It made around $170 million Worldwide, even with Lasseter's last minute guidance. He has to own that.

Bolt made just about as much as Chicken Little. 300 Mil. It's not bad but can't really be considered a success. Sander's American Dog probably would have made more money just based on the design alone. No one knows if it would have been a better film, but when you look at the Vis Dev for A-Dog compared to Bolt, A-Dog stands heads and shoulders above it as at least looking like a more interesting movie.

Hmmm seems liked you MISSED ONE. Ever heard of Princess and the Frog? The triumphant return of hand drawn animation that was supposed to prove that audiences don't just respond to CG films? The film who's performance was the reason why Disney got scared of Princess movies and changed the name of Rapunzel to Tangled? It wasn't very successful at all, and it actually brutally hammered one more nail in the coffin of the hand drawn medium. Why? Because it's weak. It made a little less than 270 million worldwide when most animated films are pulling in around 500 million. So far we're 0-3 for "box office success" as far WDFA is concerned. And as far as artistic success, these films aren't any where near as good as the great films done in the early 90s at WDFA, not to mention any film done at the studio while Walt was alive.

And then we have Tangled. Successful? Yes. Groundbreaking or Unique? No, except for the character animation. It played exactly by the numbers to the perception of what a Disney film "should be" not what a Disney film COULD be.

The “brain trust” did not like the darker direction of the film that Glen and Dean were doing and rebooted it into the lighter musical it has since become, which wasn't terrible and turned out to be successful, but as a film Tangled was pretty generic. Just like any other creative executives in Hollywood, the Pixar "brain trust" changed the direction of the film to suit what THEY wanted, not what the directors wanted. The “trust” did not support or enhance their director's vision as they claim they do, but they altered it to suit their vision for the sake of the perceived Disney Brand and more importantly to keep the darker version of Rapunzel from competing with their upcoming film, Brave, so it wouldn’t look like WDFA beat them to the punch. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it’s the way it usually works in Hollywood, but the Pixar leadership has claimed that they are above or better than that typical Hollywood Creative Exec system and that they actually support their directors, which it's been proven at WDFA and now Pixar that they do not. They only support the directors that are a part of the Boy's Club.

Anyone who knows what happened with Mrs. Chapman, Mr. Sweetland, and Mr. Levine realizes that. Lasseter and Catmull want YES men for their ideas, not unique films with unique visions, and most people working at WDFA make decisions according to that idea.

Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss.

Anonymous said...

Princess and the frog almost triplicated its budget (105 million) so it can be considered as a success.

Anonymous said...

Not by Disney standards.

Anonymous said...

Steve he got u there!

Anonymous said...

Triplicated, I tells ya, triplicated!

Ya gots no fancy response ta dat shite, does ye?

Anonymous said...

The response, again, is this:

It underperformed according to the studio's desires, standards, and expectations. Everyone knows that.

Anonymous said...

"Sander's American Dog probably would have made more money just based on the design alone"

Hogwash. The designs were all over the place, but it's the story and characters that weren't working. After years of development, the story was obtuse, ridculous, and failed to connect with the audience. It was self-indulgent and frankly dull. I hear the Croods is shaping up similarly.

"The “brain trust” did not like the darker direction of the film that Glen and Dean were doing"

Again, how utterly ridiculous. Glen's version was interesting, but HARDLY "dark." Whatever that means. The story was not playing. Your imagination is fascinating. I'd like to see you finance it, put it on the big screen, and see you get millions of people to understand it.

" from competing with their upcoming film, Brave, so it wouldn’t look like WDFA beat them to the punch"

Ignorance rules. They're totally different films. Period. And obviously, Pixar holds their standards as high as they expect the Disney crew to hold theirs--why would they have a couple of new directors on Brave.

No, I don't think you'd make it as a studio executive. Having one from the creative ranks, like John Lasseter," is the best thing Disney's done in a long time. It's not perfect, but until the studio is fully thriving again, it's reality.

Anonymous said...

"Sander's American Dog probably would have made more money just based on the design alone"

Hogwash.


You used a lot of words to justify your opinion, but I think the original poster is on to something. The minute I saw the redesign of the dog, I knew Bolt was DOA. That is the blandest, most brain-dead character design for a lead character in a major animated feature since the Aristocats.

Given Lasseters character design taste evident in his latest features (Cars/Cars 2), I can understand why he thought it was good, but I also have little doubt that the rest of the world shared my underwhelmed reaction to that very bland film.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you seem to have quite a bit of venom towards anonymous posters. It appears to grow by the day. So, I've got to ask. Why even allow anonymous posting in the first place if you have such a problem?

Anonymous said...

"directors with any real individual creative voice have left or is on their way leaving to Dreamworks!"


...to make shrek 6 and madagascar 9...

Anonymous said...

Problem witb the design of the "dog" was that most people couldn't tell it was a dog at all.

But again, the "look" of a film doesn't drive box office. The storytelling does, and everyone who's seen the original american dog reels will tell you what an utterly embarrassing mess they were.

Anonymous said...

btw--I saw the reels. Did you?

Didn't think so.

Different Anonymous said...

I saw the reels. American Dog was hilarious in sequences and had interesting art direction and character designs. The through-line of the story needed work, that's true, but it was in no worse shape than many animated features at the same point in production and could've been ironed out. It was scrapped more because of personality clashes than story reasons.

It's possible that American Dog would've made more money, or at least lost less money. A fortune in overtime was spent starting over and rushing Bolt to the finish line in its place.

Anonymous said...

You are correct. And don't forget David Stainton's influence on the film.

But the clash of personalities played a big part in the situation. Sanders' massive ego, and Lasseter's creative authority.

Anonymous said...

"But again, the "look" of a film doesn't drive box office. The storytelling does, and everyone who's seen the original american dog reels will tell you what an utterly embarrassing mess they were."

If pieces of crap like Ice Age make money with that stupid insane muskrat desperately trying to get a nut amidst totally nonsensical plots and annoying characters, I think Sanders' American Dog in whatever shape it arrived at in the end would have done just fine.

"Again, how utterly ridiculous. Glen's version was interesting..."

1000 times more interesting. They should have supported the directors and let them iron the story out.


"Pixar holds their standards as high as they expect the Disney crew to hold theirs--why would they have a couple of new directors on Brave."

High standards? Like Cars? Cars 2? Are you kidding? Hahaha.

There's only one new director on Brave, the other guy was there before. You have no idea what went down on that movie.

g said...

Lookit all this Monday morning quarterbacking. Boy you guys have all the answers, dont you?

Steve Hulett said...

Steve, you seem to have quite a bit of venom towards anonymous posters.

It's more frustration than venom, anon. Because I've got no idea who the hell I'm talking to.

Anybody anywhere can make whatever representation they like. Maybe all the posters are right: John's tastes are terrible, Disney and Pixar's films would be better if John had better taste, was less of an autocrat, the original directors had been allowed to make their films, etc.

I've got no idea what the truth is, since I don't have any sources. All I've got is the reality of the films that came out.

Robinsons under-performed.

Bolt, Princess and Frog eked out small profits. (And were no doubt disappointments to the studio.)

Tangled made a good amount of money.

All the recent Pixar releases made BIG money, and the latest, TS3 cleared a billion dollars.

I know this is difficult, but I'll try one more time: I'm not arguing artistic merit here. I'm not arguing that Tangled is the greatest thing since the all-tile bathroom came into general popularity. I'm not saying that John L. is a brilliant, unadulterated genius.

I'm only pointing out that A) the film Tangled performed very, very well and that Glen Keane, the man whose dark, non-musical vision of the picture was (supposedly) ruined by Lasseter and the brain trust, stood in the middle of the Hat Building and told me, without prompting, that he thought the film was one of the best the studio had done in years and years. If not ever.

Now maybe (as I said earlier) Glen was lying. Or exaggerating for effect. But who am I supposed to believe? Glen Keane, the man who I'm told was aesthetically raped, or anonymous commenters?

And I don't think Lasseter will be fired anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

the "look" of a film doesn't drive box office

Three words: Mars Needs Moms.

Anonymous said...

Five words: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Anonymous said...

"Having one from the creative ranks, like John Lasseter," is the best thing Disney's done in a long time."

Yep! I wholeheartedly second that!

Cars! Planes! Frogs! Elves with Night Vision Goggles!!!!! Tinkerbell with a voice!!!!!!!!!!
It's all straight up awesome sauce guys!!!!

Dear Frank, Ollie, Marc, Milt, Ward and the rest of the 9 old chaps,

We are happy to report that we have now finally taken the medium of animation farther than you guys ever did! Thanks to the cool guy in the Hawaiian shirt and his computer savvy buddy!

Love,

Walt Disney Animation Studios 2011
The magic makers

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should eliminate the anonymous account on this blog and start typing here trought accounts with name so we can have a more civilized discussion.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous button is of crucial importance on this bog because it allows people who work in the industry to express themselves freely or even report a problem they are having without being afraid they'll lose their job.

WTF?... said...

What about invented names?

Anonymous said...

"WTF?... said...
What about invented names?"

You mean the option to comment using a made-up name without providing a URL like you have done? That still qualifes as being "anonymous".

Anonymous said...

"There's only one new director on Brave, the other guy was there before. You have no idea what went down on that movie."

Actually, there are 2. Always have been.

Steve Hulett said...

Plan to keep "Anonymous."

That way we get generous dollops of snark and unsubstantiated gossip.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, there are 2. Always have been."

Yes. Like I said, the other guy was there from before. There's only one new one. Brenda's replacement.

Anonymous said...

OK, so "Brave" always had two directors? The one was Brenda Chapman (who got replaced by Mark Andrews) and who is the other one?

Anonymous said...

I've always been curious. Did the movie get renamed from "The Bear and the Bow" to "Brave" with Brenda's consent or was the title change a result of the problems Brenda had with the upper management about the story changes?

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1f2Nusf3Iw&NR=1&feature=fvwp



"We're always staying very honest with each other. There's no yes men, there's none of that."

Anonymous said...

Mark Andrews is listed as the sole director of "Brave" on IMDb.

johnrolf2006 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"That way we get generous dollops of snark and unsubstantiated gossip."

Industry goss is delish!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hullet said:
Meet the Robinsons was 3/4's done when Lasseter came to the studio."

Disney said:
"Ten months later, Lasseter was back in the screening room, watching Anderson's new version of "Meet the Robinsons," which is set for release March 30. Nearly 60 percent of the original film had been cut."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/05/arts/05iht-lass.4802012.html

Floyd Norman said...

Clearly, no one here has any idea how the "game" is being played.

Anonymous said...

"I've always been curious. Did the movie get renamed from "The Bear and the Bow" to "Brave" with Brenda's consent or was the title change a result of the problems Brenda had with the upper management about the story changes?"

Since the name change was made around the same time as Tangled was it's best to assume that the title change was made due to fears that the audience wouldn't respond to "The Bear and the Bow". Simple as that.

This really isn't the venue to reveal the other director's name on Brave. It will come out in due time.

Besides this a Lasseter thread. Stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

Well, since the other unnamed director has been on the project from the beginning or at least before Chapman departed, as some anons are saying, why wasn't his name revealed before? It doesn't make any sense.

Or has the co-director been assigned recently i.e. post-Chapman's departure?

Anonymous said...

Pixar didn't have a problem announcing the new replacement for Chapman as soon as the news that she left were leaked (it was everywhere that Mark Andrews was her replacement) why then is the other co-director's name such a big secret? I don't get Pixar's logic.

Anonymous said...

Was the other co-director assigned on the movie pre or post Chapman's departure?

Anonymous said...

"Pixar didn't have a problem announcing the new replacement for Chapman as soon as the news that she left were leaked"

She didn't leave, she was removed. Pixar/Disney did have a problem announcing it, they didn't want that news out, the problem was it was such a huge slap in the face that they couldn't contain it.

There seems to be a tradition at Pixar lately of front man directors and co-directors. When Pete Docter won the Oscar for Up he accepted the award by himself.

Up: Pete Docter front man, Bob Peterson co-director

Cars 2: John Lasseter front man, Brad Lewis co-director

Yes the co-director was on Brave while Brenda was on it. Why does it matter who it is or when it happened?

But again this article and the comments should be about Lasseter, not Brave.

Billy said...

Oh yeah baby, keep up the good fight and lets break the 100 comments record.

Anonymous said...

Only at Pixar are they so paranoid and controlling that the co-director of a film in production must be a secret. Insane.

It's that inbred, secretive, incestuous, and increasingly toxic corporate culture that will ultimately destroy Pixar, which is a shame. There's a ton of talent up there, but the way things are run, it cannot sustain itself.

Anonymous said...

"It's that inbred, secretive, incestuous, and increasingly toxic corporate culture that will ultimately destroy Pixar"

Exaggerate, much?

Anonymous said...

Incestuous?

WTF???

Anonymous said...

"Only at Pixar are they so paranoid and controlling that the co-director of a film in production must be a secret. Insane."

So true!

I mean what's the big deal?

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that co-directors were equals. Not that the one is "the real" director and the other is just something beneath that.

Does this happen only at Pixar?

Because Clements & Musker, Trousdale & Wise, Sanders & Deblois and other "duo" directors at animation studios seem to be equals and work as a team.

Anonymous said...

"There's a ton of talent up there..."

The artistic talent at Pixar is overrated. There's a ton of artists at other studios that wipe the floor with them. Especially since the best guys like Romano and Fucile are no longer there.

Bruce Timm, Curt Geda, Nico Marlet, Joe Moshier, Paul Felix, James Baxter, Glen Keane, Scott Wills, Dan Krall, Sharon Bridgeman, Kevin Nelson, Alessandro Carloni, Sylvain Deboissy, Carlos Grangel, Rodolphe Guenoden, Shane Prigmore, Chris Reccardi, Jen Yuh-Nelson, and Lynne Naylor, just to name a few of many artists.

Anonymous said...

By 'incestuous' I don't mean they're sleeping with their siblings. I mean they have a profound distrust of anyone from the outside.

And no, I don't think what I wrote above is an exaggeration. I think Pixar has much the same corporate culture as Steve Jobs has established at Apple. Extreme secrecy to the point of paranoia, the need for staff to be Kool-Aid drinking true believers, the need to not only crush your enemies but to also mock and disparage them, the complete inability to tolerate criticism, and a chip-on-the-shoulder us-against-the-evil-world attitude.

Jobs acts like he'll live forever, despite ample evidence to the contrary, and Apple cannot even consider a succession plan. In the same way, as the original Pixar brain trust age/move to live action/get spread thin with other obligations, the younger Pixar talent must put up with impenetrable glass ceilings, or leave the company to get their chance to lead.

Anonymous said...

Anon (03/15/2011 @ 2:32:00 PM)

Never has a truer word been spoken…

Anonymous said...

So.... it sounds like there is a lot of Lasseter Animosity then..? Maybe not from Glen Keane, but from everywhere else?

Floyd - please elaborate? Actually I wonder if you are one of the guys who got shut out by Lasseter since you were the one who broke the news that newt was done (on this blog, I might add)?

Anonymous said...

"Especially since the best guys like Romano and Fucile are no longer there."

That's a good one. Ignorant, but funny nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

oh, waaah. Replace Mr. Lasseter's name with ANY artist who's made good in this kind of situation and there'd be the same exact kind of whiney bitching from a bunch of immature disgruntled artists who could hardly do better.

Grow up.

Anonymous said...

"That's a good one. Ignorant, but funny nonetheless."

Name one painter or character designer who works at Pixar that is better than either of those artists.

Anonymous said...

This blog sucks.

Anonymous said...

Flip through any of the art of books from the Pixar films and you'll see plenty. But then, the films speak for themselves!

Anonymous said...

Yes they certainly do speak for themselves.

They haven't done one film that has looked any where near as good or appealing as The Incredibles since they made it. A film that those two artists were heavily involved in designing.

Anonymous said...

Anon (03/15/2011 @ 10:10:00 PM)

Never has a truer word been spoken…

Anonymous said...

Just 6 more comments to break 100!

Anonymous said...

This blog rocks!

Anonymous said...

Could someone please answer me? I'm gonna post this again:

I've always thought that co-directors were equals. Not that the one is "the real" director and the other is just something beneath that.

Does this happen only at Pixar?

Because Clements & Musker, Trousdale & Wise, Sanders & Deblois and other "duo" directors at animation studios seem to be equals and work as a team.

Anonymous said...

The front man director also happens in live-action and this isnt new either.

Against Anonymous said...

"This blog sucks". Let me correct you: "The anonymous posters sucks"

Against Anonymous said...

"This blog rocks!" Let me correct you too: "Steve Hullet rocks!"

Anonymous said...

100 comments YEAH!!!

Anonymous said...

101 Dalmatians...emm...comments I mean.

Anonymous said...

"The front man director also happens in live-action and this isnt new either."

I'm not asking about live-action but what happens at animation studios. So far, this front man director, being "the real" director, and the other co-director being of less significance only happens at Pixar, as far as I can tell. No one has given examples of this happening at other animation studios.

Oh, and 102 Dalmatians/Comments (the live-action sequel)

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah?

101 Dalmatians II: Comments' London Adventure.

Anonymous said...

So to summarize this whole thread...

Steve Hullett posts a story about Glen Keane possibly leaving Disney, and some commenters start saying it's all Lasseter's fault.

A commenter asks Steve Hullett, what is with all the hate towards John Lasseter.

Steve Hullett responds in a separate blog post, that as far as he knows, there isn't much hate towards Lasseter, and that Glen Keane likes Tangled.

People comment that nu-uh, artists really do hate Lasseter, they've read it/heard it somewhere. Steve says that in real life, he doesn't see it. Many continue to beg to differ and anonymously post that they see the hate in real life too.

Floyd Norman chimes in at about the 80 comment mark saying that's just how the "game" is played.

And here we are.

Seriously though, what's with all this hate towards John Lasseter anyway?

Against Anonymous said...

LOL, this fight will continue, now lets get 150!

Anonymous said...

Its not really hate, its envy.

Anonymous said...

It's not hate OR envy. It's chagrin.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how polarized and simple minded people have become. Any criticism is 'hate.' In fact, anything other than blind adoration and effusive, constant praise is 'hate,' and any suggestion that someone who has succeeded isn't perfect is 'envy.'

We've lost the ability to listen and discuss and debate. We've lost the ability to see shade of grey, or to see both positive and negative attributes in other people.

Anonymous said...

We've lost the ability to listen and discuss and debate. We've lost the ability to see shade of grey, or to see both positive and negative attributes in other people.

I haven't lost it, Anonymous 1:09, and neither have you. Neither have a good amount of our peers, I'd bet.

As for the others, the level of the discourse makes me imagine the age and experience of the "hate! envy!" crowd skews pretty young. At least that's my hope.

Anonymous said...

Only on the TAG blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon (03/16/2011 @ 10:10:00 PM)

Never has a truer word been spoken…

Anonymous said...

Why did lou remano get fired from Pixar, anyway?

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