Disney covered my travel and expenses for the Monsters University Event.
Anytime I see a Pixar movie, they always remind me how important it is to have a great story. That’s what Pixar is so good at, that’s why they are so successful they come up with a good story and Monsters University is not just a “pre-quall” that everyone wanted to make, it’s a story, a story about two friends, and how they become friends and well let’s talk about how the story came about. I sat down with Dan Scanlon and 24 other bloggers and we interviewed him and the conversation really explored how the movie’s story was created.
Why are Mike and Sulley meeting in college instead of 4th grade?
This question came up because in the movie Monsters Inc. says something about them meeting in the fourth grade…
Mike says to Sulley, you’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade. And so it’s a thing that a lot of people have brought up, and we certainly noticed it right away when we started developing the idea. And it can be really tough when you have a moment like that. We really explored it a lot. We did several versions of the film where we actually showed the guys meeting when they were younger, and one of the things that ended up happening is we ended up realizing that, in order to service that particular line, we were hurting the story.
We were hurting the story that we wanted to tell, which was the story of how these guys met, and how they, became friends. It became clear that in order to respect that line, we would had to have made Monsters, Elementary, which was not a story we wanted to tell. So it was really Pete Doctor and John Lassiter who kind of came to me and said… you kind of have to let that go. It’s gonna hurt both movies if you don’t tell this right. And the spirit of that line in the first film was to say, these two guys have known each other a long time. So we felt like it still supports that idea to have them meet in college. So, let’s just imagine that you’ve been jealous of my good looks since fourth grade’s just a monster expression……
…..It also gives you an opportunity to just get to see another place for monsters to, to go that, that seemed classic. And we, have never done a college movie. No one had ever really tried that, so, um, I think that was where the, the big idea… Or where the idea came from.
How do you tell a story that takes place in college and keep it family friendly?
We’re always trying to do that for the most part. But it is tricky. I mean, you want it to feel like college, and college is pretty wild. But, you know, we want it to be tasteful, and, uh, and so I feel like the good thing is is they’re monsters, so they can be wild, and, it felt like we just replaced whatever with, what you would think of a little kid’s birthday party. They’re running around, and hanging from things. And it was, like, yeah, that still works, you know? Guys hanging from the ceiling and throwing things around… That became the college party, and it still kind of works, even if you took out everything else. But, uh, yeah.
How did you come up with Mike’s storyline?
…..It went through a lot of very different changes, and we went through times where we thought maybe it should be Sulley’s story and not Mike’s. And Mike’s story kept rising up to the top as the one that was the most important. They tend to change a lot. And I think that’s good. I think we want to make sure we’re telling the right story……..
I didn’t have a lot of, like, wild, crazy college stuff going on. I saw plenty of it, but, um, I guess I feel like that’s what I connect with with the movie is more on an emotional level. That feeling of showing up at an art school, and realizing that, though your mom puts your drawings on the refrigerator, you’re actually not the greatest artist in the world, it’s horrifying. And it’s humbling, and I think that people have that experience a lot.
And that part of it, that idea of Mike being up against that was what I felt would be the heart of the story, and what I felt connected to me personally is, boy, what do we do when things don’t work out inevitably? It’s so wonderful that we tell people you can be anything you want if you never give up. But sometimes it happens, and, and are we there for people to kind of help them go, no, maybe you’re not this, but you’re this. And that’s what I love about this story.