Interviewing and spending time with brilliant minds is always a treat. I admire creative souls who produce magnificent pieces of art, and Dan Scanlon is one of those souls. During my recent enrollment, and all-expense paid trip to Monsters University, I had the privilege of meeting with the director of the school at Pixar Studios. I participated in a roundtable discussion with the Monsters University Director, Dan Scanlon and wanted to share with you some of the things I learned about Dan and the upcoming release of Monsters University.
One minor dilemma the movie crew encountered was coming to terms with how to address the line from Monsters Inc. where Mike says to Sulley, “You’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade.” Because Monsters University shows that Mike and Sulley actually meet in college, the team needed to decide how to deal with that line that many people remember from the original movie. Here is what Dan Scanlon had to say about it.
“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, well, 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.”
See, I never would have placed that line from the first film, and questioned the meeting in college. Movie makers really have to think about everything!
When asked how the director and crew decide how scary to make a movie, or who to gear it toward, this is what Dan had to say:
“I think initially we always sort of make these movies for ourselves, and our own families in mind as the gauge. But then we do test screenings and things to kind of just get a feeling of that type of stuff. It is a tricky movie when you’re dealing with the issue of fear. The good thing is the kids are still with the monsters. The monsters are still these sort of fun characters. And even when there’s intimidating monsters like her (the dean of the college), I think you’re still kind of with your main characters. It is always a tough line. You want to make sure that there’s a story that’s, you know, a fear as we remember from being kids ourselves. It’s thrilling, too. It’s those great characters in films we remember from our childhood. You just always want to make sure you’re not hurting the experience by taking too much.”
Director Dan Scanlon places himself closer to a Mike Wazowski during his college years. He was very focused on getting good grades and didn’t have a lot of friends for a while. He says that when he went to art school he realized that while his mom may have put his drawings on the refrigerator, you may not actually be the greatest artist in the world, and it was quite humbling to realize that.
The part of Monsters University that relates most to Dan is when things don’t quite work out for Mike Wazowski, and “boy, what do we do when things don’t work out inevitably?” “Then there are people in your life who help you realize that no, maybe you’re not this, but you could be this.” That is the message that Dan loves about Monsters University.
Be sure to head to theaters on June 21st, for humorously good time with Monsters University!
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