Features and Columns · Movies

Pixar’s Secrets for Finding Inspiration

Choice snippets from Pete Docter on how the studio navigates creativity.
Pixar Inspiration Up
By  · Published on February 5th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about Pixar filmmaker and CCO Pete Docter and his thoughts on inspiration.

There’s no fast track to inspiration. Anyone who dabbles in a creative discipline will tell you that. Rich, exciting ideas are rarely forced. So when heavy-hitting creative folks, like Pixar’s Pete Docter, have insights to share, we’d do well to listen.

Docter began working at Pixar in 1990 on the recommendation of the late Joe Ranft. He was the tenth employee in the company’s animation group and one of its first animators. Docter’s Pixar credits are overlapping and multitudinous. To say he’s been an integral part of the company’s most seminal works is an understatement. He’s one of the loudest creative voices at a studio that enjoys one of the more rock-solid reputations in the business.

The video essay below assembles recordings of Docter speaking about his creative process. He touches on a swath of points, from the value of collaboration to the importance of being specific about what you want people to take home with them after they see a film. The main throughline, all told, is an emphasis on flexibility, on knowing when to pivot, listen, and tweak an idea to best serve the story. It is a wholly liberating philosophy and a gentle reminder that when you’re stuck, the solution may only be glimpsed after you take a step back.

Watch “Pixar’s Pete Docter on Inspiration“:

Who made this?

This video essay is by the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society, which is run by Andrew Saladino. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

The video’s format is worth mentioning. The Royal Ocean Film Society has always incorporated stylish and captivating animations and kinetic text into their work. And this video, entirely composed of audio snippets and devoid of narration, feels like a culmination of this formal approach.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.