Andrew Stanton, Part 9: “The Clues to a Great Story” (TED Talk)

March 22nd, 2012 by

A few weeks back our featured video interview was a TED Talk given by Andrew Stanton, one of the key members of Pixar’s ‘brain trust’ whose screenwriting credits include Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Wall-E and the current live action movie John Carter which he also directed [along with A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and Wall-E].

The subject of the TED Talk: “The Clues to a Great Story.” Given the success of Pixar and Stanton’s participation in it, I decided to produce a transcription of the entire 19-minute presentation. I will be posting it segment by segment for the next week or so because Stanton packed a lot of big ideas into his short talk.

Today: Part 9.

When I was 5, I was introduced to possibly the most major ingredient that I feel a story should have, but is rarely invoked. This is what my mother took me to when I was 5:

[Scene from Bambi where she and Thumper are on the ice for Bambi’s first time]

I walked out of there wide-eyed with wonder. That’s what I think the magic ingredient is, the secret sauce: Can you invoke wonder? Wonder is honest, it’s completely innocent, it can’t be artificially evoked. For me, there’s no greater ability than the gift of another human being giving you that feeling. To hold them still for a brief moment in their day and have them surrender to wonder.

When it’s tapped, the affirmation of being alive almost reaches you to a cellular level. And when an artist does that to another artist, it’s like you’re compelled to pass that on. It’s like a dormant command that’s suddenly activated in you like a call to Devils’ Tower, do unto others what’s been done to you.

The best stories infuse wonder.

One thing:

* “The best stories infuse wonder”: When I experience a truly great story, I am in wonder. Of the events in the story itself. Of the characters. But also of the mastery with which the writers and filmmakers did their job. Watching a great movie redefines the word ‘wonderful': Our experience is full of wonder.

For Part 1 of Stanton’s TED Talk, go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

For Part 4, go here.

For Part 5, go here.

For Part 6, go here.

For Part 7, go here.

For Part 8, go here.

Tomorrow the last excerpt, Part 10.

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