The Creative Secrets Of The Most Successful Animated Studio In The World

There is an expression that: “what is made for everyone is loved by no one.”

In the worlds of art and commercial these words are close to an immutable law. For good reason. In almost every case, trying to satisfy everyone results in pleasant, but quickly disposable content. However, every so often there is something or someone who proves this assumption wrong.

In cinema, Pixar animation is a rare exception to the rule. They make movies beloved by all demographics. Young and old. Critics and consumers. City dwellers and suburban soccer moms.

And they haven’t done it once, they pull…

7 Tips From Finding Nemo Director’s TED TALK

How do you write an unforgettable story?

Director Andrew Stanton knows as well as anyone. He’s been doing it for three decades at Pixar studios.

His work as a writer produced animated classics like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. His time as a director brought beloved stories like Finding Nemo and Wall-E to life.

In a recent TED talk, Stanton shares how Pixar veterans like him and Pete Docter use storytelling to inspire audiences.

The bad news: there is no instruction manual for a great story.


How to write a story your audience can’t resist

How are stories made? Pixar’s Pete Docter — the director of such Pixar hits as Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out, says a “story isn’t made, it’s discovered.”

As a young animator, Docter believed Walt Disney woke up with fully formed stories in his head. When Pixar hired him at 21, he learned what looked like a flash of inspiration was a painstaking process.

This is a process Pixar has mastered as good as any in the business. Over the past few decades, they’ve enjoyed a near flawless track record. …

Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

“How do the brightest creative minds consistently put out great work?”

I asked this question many times when I began writing. To me creativity felt like a mystical process. The artist a divine figure, blessed with a supernatural ability to turn the mundane into magic. I wanted in on the action.

Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work seemed like an answer to my prayers. The book divulged the daily habits of everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Nikola Tesla. …

The Godfather started out as a 600 page novel. That turned into a 3 hour movie. It finished as a 10 hour trilogy. However, Director Francis Ford Coppola summarizes the epic in a single word:


The Conversation came out 6 months before Watergate. Some say it predicted the event. All agree it captures the paranoia and distrust of the time. But to Coppola it’s about one thing:


Apocalypse Now is a cinematic odyssey down the Mekong River. It took over a decade to make. The cast and crew nearly went insane in the process. …

Why it’s important to continue seeking out great art

At the end of the year, Oscar-winning Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11, Traffic, Contagion) publishes a list of every TV show, movie, and book he watched or read in the calendar year.

In 2019, Soderbergh watched well over 200 movies and episodes of television. And read several dozen books and plays.

I foolishly tried to get an exact count, but gave up halfway. To those brave enough for the task, you can find Soderbergh’s full list here.

Soderbergh is not the only example of this. …

Brando and Coppola on set

The Godfather’s journey from unlikely best-seller to silver-screen classic is an epic tale in and of itself. One filled with contention, compromise, and ultimately triumph. Former Paramount President Of Pictures Robert Evans describes it as “more volatile than the war the Corleone family fought on screen.”

While the fraught production wasn’t necessarily pleasant for those involved, it delivered a trail of bread crumbs for film geeks to feast on. With the movie’s 50th anniversary just a year away, I wanted to share some of my favorite behind the scenes stories and footage from the film:

Coppola’s Godfather Notebook

The Behind The Scenes Battle For The Greatest Movie Of All Time.


Iconic shot of Marlon Brando and Salvatore Corsitto from the film’s opening scene

On March 15, 1972 The Godfather premiered in New York. A late season snow fall marked the occasion. But the weather deterred no one; eager filmgoers snaked across six city blocks waiting to get in. The event itself was a star-studded affair. A gala of big shot executives, Hollywood royalty, and US diplomats; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger flew in from Washington to attend the event.

A notable absence was Francis Ford Coppola. The film’s director fled to Paris; the Atlantic Ocean providing a physical and metaphorical boundary from the project he’d completed. Coppola wanted nothing to do with…

What does a masterpiece look like?

In its humble beginnings. Before the gloss and polish? Before the Rave reviews, and golden statues.

Perhaps something like this:

Credit: Regan Arts

The photo above comes from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Notebook. This “notebook” is actually a 700+ page breakdown of Mario Puzo’s Novel.

Before shooting a single take, Coppola picked apart every page of the source material: mining it for themes, setting, and images to use in the film.

The books is not only a treat for Godfather fans, but a reminder of the raw work that kicks off the creative process.


These Lifeless Phrases Bore Your Reader

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Does your writing have “Cadaver Words”?

I hope not…

Cadaver Words mar good ideas and butcher great writing. They are as lifeless as a limp corpse. They hollow out promising prose. And erect steel walls between your work and your reader.

Use them at your own risk.

What are these dreaded words?

Cadaver words come in many shapes and sizes, but they share two qualities. They are vague and emotionless.

Think weak adjectives like: nice, good, and happy.

Nondescript verbs like: walk, stop, and think.

Dull drum nouns like: car, house, and cat.

For the writer Cadaver Words are tantalizingly…

Antonio Rengel

Educator and Copywriter Who Writes About Creativity, Marketing, Pop Culture, And Occasionally Mindfulness Meditation

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