Finding Dory Clips

This is your first sequel as a director…

No. Toy Story 2… And Toy Story 3 and Monsters U

Well, as a director, I mean.

As a director, yeah. But my experience in being under the hood has been since 1996.

So you have a lot of experience there.

Yes.

When you were like, “We’re going to do this,” what did you purposely try to avoid, the sequelitis… I feel like there are many traps.

I think the very thing that you guys spend most of your time doing, which is comparing, looking at patterns, and finding things is the enemy. I try to stay stupid and not think about any of that stuff. The reason Toy Story works is because we were too young and dumb to know what’s right and what’s wrong. We just had the guts to do whatever we thought hit us as OK at the time, knowing that we’ll just change it until it works. So I need most of the four years that I’m writing something to be safe; safe to do every awful choice possible, to do every taboo choice. So I purposely don’t want to know any of that stuff. I don’t even want to look at the first film as much as I can. I want to have all my options… all my bad options on the table, because I’ve just historically seen that when I have that kind of freedom it eventually leads to the answer, even if I have to go through sometimes years of the wrong choice. I need that kind of safety, if that makes sense.

That makes sense.

So I don’t think about that stuff, almost as a superstition.

Gerald Finding Dory

That’s fair. How did the sea lions come about? They are some of my favorite new characters in this film.

Fortunately, it’s very much in the same vein as the seagulls. I grew up on the East Coast with seagulls everywhere. I just knew they were rats with wings. So it kind of came like being a dog owner; you just knew what a dog would be like. So having sea lions everywhere in the North Bay all the time, it was pretty instinctual for all of us that it would just be lazy and about territory. To the point that, yes, they probably would eat Marlin and Nemo if they had any desire to get off their butts, but they’re not. [Laughs.]

Rich Moore

I noticed some things in the credits, particularly the Rich Moore mention in the special thanks.

Rich [Moore] and Jim [Reardon] and I are classmates. We go way back. We were very close all through school and stayed very close all through our professional lives. I was trying to always woo Jim and Rich to come up and work at Pixar and they were always kinda wooing me to come to Simpsons. We’ve know each other forever. We’re very close friends. I finally convinced Jim to come onboard to help me write WALL-E. So he worked at Pixar for a couple of years. And then Rich we finally got into Disney because he wanted to stay living south. And now the rest of the world has discovered how great of a filmmaker he always was. He was always the star of our class. And Jim was always the smartest guy in our class. I was just one of the lucky people that got to take advantage of working with them. So they’ve done, as friends, extra help when we wanted other eyes, because now we not only have the brain trust at Pixar, but we also show the equivalent of their story trust down at…

Rich told me that they’re not as smart as you guys. They’re not the brain trust…

Well, they’re rising very quickly. And frankly, Rich and Jim were always that smart. I just had a little bit more interaction with them as far as getting help. And I helped them a bit on Zootopia, too. So it’s a very mutual…

When did they get involved in that process? Is it like animatics or is it like going through the…?

What we found is the smart thing to do, and I don’t know if it’s a hard, fast rule, but it just seems to be in the last couple films. We kind of wait till we think the film is working but we have one more shot at changing everything. And that’s when we kind of show it to Disney, because everybody has lost all their objectivity at Pixar. So we kind of need, “How can we show this to a group that’s just as smart but doesn’t know anything? And we’ve got one more chance at the bat to just kind of expose something that was sitting in front of us that we couldn’t see.” They don’t like that meeting and we don’t like that meeting, because you want to be done. You’ve worked really hard. It’s usually about two and a half, three years in. you don’t want to know that there’s still something wrong. So it’s never a fun time. But it’s always like, “Thank goodness they saw it.”

So in the meeting for this, what comes up?

Dory’s arc was still not clear. Even though we understood it finally as the filmmakers, it wasn’t clear to the rest of the audience. And that’s what brought forth the flashbacks. The flashbacks were a last-minute idea. They were the opposite of a problem I had on Nemo. On Nemo, for three and a half years that entire prologue of him losing his wife and family was actually doled out as flashbacks through the whole movie, and then the real tragedy was exposed at the time of the fishing net. And you never related to Marlin. Everybody always thought he was too whiny and too needy. And then the minute we put it all to the front and didn’t change a line of his, everybody sympathized with him. That’s what made it so daring to put such a tragedy up front, because it helped the whole movie. So to suddenly discover in an ironic way that we had the opposite problem. I had too much prologue in Finding Dory and I was telling too much. So we realized, “we need to make there be a hole in this and let Dory… let us be alone with Dory.” As she gets farther, she earns memories and we get to experience that cathartic-ness with her. It gave me such a sense of peace because it was like the inverse of the other movie. But that only came out of pressure from it still wasn’t working 100% when Disney watched it.

Well thank you very much. I appreciate it.

OK. Good to talk to you, man.

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