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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:27 am 
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There's a long, in depth interview with Joss 'Buffy' Whedon here

http://www.infocusmag.com/05augustsepte ... nuncut.htm

Which is mainly about the big screen Firefly spin-off "Serenity". However, in it he discusses all sorts of things, including his work on "Toy Story".

Here, he let's slip some interesting facts. I understand the page will only be free-to-view for a short time, so here's the full Toy Story segment.

Quote:
On the “Toy Story” DVD commentary, I think you’re mentioned only once, as the guy who contributed the line, “Wind the frog!” How late in the process came your involvement in that project? Was it just a dialogue polish, or did you shape the story as well?
It was [“Toy Story” director] John Lasseter’s concept. I had been working at Disney and I was staying at my farm in New York in the summer and they called and said, “We have this other project, ‘Toy Story,’ which we think is going to be a go, we think it’s the next movie. Can we send you the script? Because it needs to be rewritten.”

Which Disney project were you working on when you got the “Toy Story” call?
I was working on, let’s see, it was either “Marco Polo” … First they wanted to do “Journey to the Center of the Earth” meets “The Man Who Would Be King,” which eventually became “Atlantis,” which is why I’m credited on it. Because I was the first writer on it, even though I had not a shred in it.

Then they said, “No, wait, we want to do ‘My Fair Lady’ with Marco Polo.” Which I not only wrote a script for, I actually wrote the lyrics for three songs that [veteran stage composer] Robert Lindsey Nassif wrote the music to.

So you were already working on other Disney cartoon projects.
Yes.

And then you got the “Toy Story” call.
And they sent me the script and it was a shambles, but the story that Lasseter had come up with was, you know, the toys are alive and they conflict. The concept was gold. It was just right there. And that’s the dream job for a script doctor: a great structure with a script that doesn’t work. A script that’s pretty good? Where you can’t really figure out what’s wrong, because there’s something structural that’s hard to put your finger on? Death. But a good structure that just needs a new body on it is the best. So I was thrilled.

I went up to Pixar [the Northern California-based animation studio which produced “Toy Story”], and stayed there for weeks and wrote for, I think, four months before it got greenlit, and completely overhauled the script. There was some very basic things in there that stayed in there. The characters were pretty much in place except for the dinosaur, which was mine. I took out a lot of extraneous stuff, including the neighbor giving the kid a bad haircut before he leaves. There was a whole lot of extraneous stuff.

And then there was finding the voices. We were still casting. Ironically, Disney put the kibosh on the person they wanted for Buzz Lightyear because he wasn’t famous enough, so we couldn’t use Jim Carrey. But they had Tom Hanks in place. It was basically finding the voices and sitting with them while they came up with the gags and going over the boards and working with Jeffrey Katzenberg. It was a great, great process because you’re sitting around with a bunch of animators who are basically drawing caricatures of each other, getting Sharpie headaches and making a lot of jokes, and they’re the sweetest bunch of guys.

As you were writing “Toy Story,” did you have any sense that you were involved in launching what would become one of the most lucrative new big-screen genres of all time?
I think the thing that’s important to remember about it is simply that digital animation was starting to happen, but everyone was using it for the same thing, which was, [Whedon affects a shaky hippie voice] “To blow your mind – by putting the camera through a keyhole and into the ass of a fly and through the stars.” Nobody could control themselves.

But John Lasseter was like, “We’re telling a story. We’re making a cell-animation film. We’ll never think of it as anything else. We’ll never place CGI just to show what it can do, just to play tricks. This isn’t a 3D movie. This is a story.” Everything was very old-school in that sense. That’s what made it stand out and that’s what spawned the generation of movies that came after it. It was simply, “Oh! We already know how to do this; we’ve just got a slightly new medium to do it in.”

Did you have any influence on the decision to break with Disney tradition and not have the characters sing?
They knew they didn’t want to, and I knew they shouldn’t. I joined Disney because I wanted to write musicals, because I wanted to do what [“Little Mermaid”-“Aladdin” lyricist] Howard Ashman did. That sort of movie fell by the wayside while I was there. I watched as the musical numbers became more and more beautifully animated and more and more disposable musically. The animated musical died with Howard Ashman.

“Toy Story” was a different animal. This was never meant to be a musical. These characters were not the kind that would sing and dance. It just didn’t have that feeling.


So you spent four months on “Toy Story”?
I spent about four months on it before we got the green light. When we got the green light and the script was approved and they were putting it together, I walked away, started doing other things, then came back a couple months later.

They had shut the movie down. I went up to Pixar, and they actually said, “Listen, we’re having to shut down for a while because we’re having story problems. Many of you are going to be laid off, and Joss is here to fix the script.” And then I was just like, “Why are you pointing at me? What’s going on? This is horrible!” I think this was “Black Monday.” I don’t know if it was a Monday. I think it was a Monday. But it was definitely referred to as “Black.”

So we sort of went back into the trenches and made sure we had everything we needed and nothing we didn’t. And then, you know, as is always the case with animation, I spent another couple of months on it and then it got reworked somewhat from there. I think one of the last things that was added – certainly it was after my time, and it’s the thing I most wish I could take credit for – was the crane-worshippers.

The little 3-eyed aliens.
I think I spent more time explaining that I didn’t come up with that than anything else.

How much time altogether did you end up investing in the project?
More than six months. It was not a polish; it was a rewrite and with animation you’re writing with every visual. Every shot is up on a board somewhere, so you’re writing in great detail. It’s a very fluid and complicated process.

Can you point to a specific “Toy” contribution of which you’re particularly proud?
I think the thing that I can point at and say, “This I am proud of,” is really the voice and the sensibility of the characters, keeping them from being that sort of old-school Disney – what my wife would refer to as “old-man humor.” Getting a little more voice and a little more edge into the jokes and into the bits, and just helping the structure, seeing it through.

The whole thing with the mutant toys, as we referred to them, forming the skateboard thing to bring them out, that came after Mattel rejected my Barbie-as-Sarah-Connor rescue scene.

I remember them talking about that on the DVD. Were you invited to participate on the DVD at all?
Uh, no. [Laughter.]

Didn’t get the phone call?
No, I didn’t. Somehow Pixar has managed to scrape by without me. I thought “Toy Story 2” was actually beautiful and wonderfully realized and I didn’t have anything to do with that. I definitely feel I played a part in “Toy Story,” a substantial one, but it is John Lasseter’s movie.


Good stuff. I'm most interested in the news that Disney were (apparently) developing the Marco Polo film, as this is something I've never heard before.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:35 am 
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Very interesting read! Bless my lucky stars Jim Carrey didn't become the voice of Buzz. And we have Joss Whedon to thanks for Rex.

<i>My Fair Lady</i> with Marco Polo? How hasn't that been realized yet?! :wink:


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