I loved 'Dumbo.' I watched Bugs Bunny time and again. The Muppets were big, too. All of those, they have this real, not darkness but poignancy, that's what makes it stick with you.
I like doing everything. That's why I came to Pixar, as opposed to Disney or any other studio - it's small. At the time I started, I was, like, the 10th person in the animation group, and we all had to do everything. That's the way I like it, keeping it fresh.
I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends' films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.
It's weird - on almost every film I've worked on, the first sequence we storyboard ends up being the first sequence that goes into animation, and ends up being almost shot-for-shot the same.
I wanted to make sure that 'Up' wasn't a 3D movie about a man who sails his house to South America. It's a movie about an old man who sails his house to South America that also happens to be in 3D. So the first thing is always the story.
I remember as a kid having a balloon and accidentally letting the string go and watching it just float off and into the sky until it disappeared. And there's something about that, even, that feels very much like what life is, you know, that it's fleeting, and it's temporal.
In some ways, I feel like the strength of animation is in its simplicity and caricature, and in reduction. It's like an Al Hirschfeld caricature, where he'll use, like, three lines, and he'll capture the likeness of someone so strongly that it looks more like them than a photograph. I think animation has that same power of reduction.
'In-between' is sort of - an animator does the key poses. He'll do extremes, you know, like a character reaching out for a glass of water and then another one of him drinking. And the in-betweener has to do all the drawings that goes between those two. You know it could be 12, 23 whatever in-betweens.
'Toy Story' we found, sorta by accident, because we didn't know what we were doing, the idea of being replaced by somebody. Everybody has that fear, or encounters this jealousy at some point.
The way we work at Pixar is we write the script, but then we quickly move on into story reel, which is basically like a comic-book version of the film. And then we do our own dialogue and music and sound effects, all in an effort to be able to basically sit in the theater and watch the movie before we shoot it, essentially.]
When people go to the theater, they don't want to think 'I know exactly what I'm gonna get,' and then they get it and then they walk out. I think you want to walk in going 'I don't really know what this is about,' and have the fun of discovering it.