Pixar’s Movies All Suck…

…to begin with, that is. 

And Pixar isn’t afraid to admit this.

In the sublime business book Creativity Inc. (which is also a great book on managing creative teams), Ed Catmull explains how this works as they work on a movie.

Creativity INC cover

They get sold on an idea, knowing that the first version is going to suck. They then work through a few iterations until it sucks less.

…all our films, to begin with, suck.

This is the big misconception that people have, that a new film is the baby version of the final film, when in fact the final film bears no relationship to what you started off with. What we’ve found is that the first version always sucks. I don’t mean this because I’m self-effacing or that we’re modest about it. I mean it in the sense that they really do suck.

Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

They even admit the following, about Toy Story, a movie we can all easily imagine just being created as a perfect thing in one go.

We’d rebooted the story completely, more than once, to make sure it rang true.

Ed Catmull

Of course, this has a big lesson to teach us writers.

Know, in your heart, that your first draft sucks, and that this is fine. 

Write it again, redraft it and change the plot.

Just don’t give up on it.