Last week, I brought up the Andrew Stanton TED Talk from 2012 in the context of a discussion about storytelling. It reminded of how great his presentation was. So great, when I went into the archives to check the series I ran at the time, I had actually taken the time to transcribe the entire 19-minute talk. So for the next two weeks, I will reprise that series from one of the principal figures in the phenomenon which is Pixar Animation Studios.
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 10.
When I was 4 years old, I have a vivid memory of finding two pinpoint scars on my ankle and asking my dad what they were, and I had a matching pair on my head, but I couldn’t see them because of my hair. He explained when I was born, I was born premature, that I came out much too early, and I wasn’t fully baked. I was very, very sick. And when the doctor took a look at this yellow kid with black teeth, he looked straight at my mom and said, “He’s not gonna live.”
I was in the hospital for months. And many blood transfusions later, I lived. And that made me special.
I don’t know if I really believe that. I don’t know if my parents really believe that. But I didn’t want to prove them wrong.
Whatever I ended up being good at, I would strive to be worthy of the second chance I was given.
[Scene from Finding Nemo where the shark has eaten Marlin’s wife and all the eggs… but he discovers one: “I promise I will never let anything happen to you… Nemo.”]
That’s the first story lesson I ever learned. Use what you know. Draw from it. Doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experience, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.
And that’s what ultimately led me to speaking you here at TED talk today.
* “That’s the first story lesson I ever learned. Use what you know. Draw from it. Doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experience, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core”: Per Stanton’s own life-story, how as a child he barely survived, the power of that experience infused the basic premise and overall plot of Finding Nemo. Above and beyond how tremendous the movie’s plot and characters are, perhaps no dynamic helps to elevate the story in the hearts of viewers than this point of emotional resonance: We want to protect those whom we love. But life is uncertain. Overprotectiveness does not facilitate living, it suffocates opportunities. We need to embrace the possibilities life brings, both positive and negative. For we can only find our true humanity [and fishhood] through confronting risks.
I love TED Talks. Sometimes, however, I discover that after watching a video, I can barely remember anything of substance. That’s why I took the time to transcribe Stanton’s words, to give us all a chance to reflect on the many big ideas Stanton laid out in his talk.
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.
For Part 9, go here.
I hope you have enjoyed this series.