Pixar knows how to tell a good story.
Since 1995, the animation company has created a string of hits including franchises such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Nemo and standalone features like Ratatouille, Up, Wall-E and Inside Out.
According to Metacritic, a site that aggregates movie reviews by top critics, every Pixar feature to date except for one has scored between “generally favourable” and “critical acclaim”. In case you are wondering, the one turkey was Cars 2, which got an average score of 57. Perhaps surprisingly, the highest rated is Ratatouille, with an average score of 96.
So what is the “secret sauce” that makes Pixar movies so good?
While Pixar movies are often praised for their technical aspects such as animation, visuals and sound design, what that makes them most memorable is the stories they tell.
We don’t need to guess how Pixar does this because back in 2011, former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats shared a list of “22 rules of storytelling.” This list includes such advice as “You admire a character for trying more than for their successes” and, perhaps most importantly “Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.”
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at telling a Pixar-style story then now is your big chance. The Disney-owned animation studio has just partnered up with Khan Academy to create a free course called “The Art of Storytelling”.
The course is part of a series called ‘Pixar in A Box’ and it features lessons sourced from Pixar directors, writers and animators.
The first lesson, ‘We are all storytellers’, is available now and it features modules that teach you about your unique perspective and the initial steps required for world building. The next lesson is titled “Character” and it, along with others, will be available later this year.
Since it’s totally free and online, you now officially have fewer excuses to start writing your hit movie.