Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Toy Story 3" Disney's Circle Seven Style

With the new release of Pixar's "Toy Story 3" Blue Ray edition came a special bonus feature that takes a look at some of the original artwork from Disney's Circle Seven Studios. While working for Disney's Circle Seven, writing the Monsters Inc. 2 script, we were asked to come aboard the TS3 project and rewrite the script. They were in a pretty serious time crunch and we had only a couple of months to rework a lot of the story. It was our first time writing in animation and when we took the job we were pretty clueless as to the politics that were driving this and all of the other sequels at Circle Seven. We eventually began to learn about the battle going on with the potential buyout, etc.

In spite of that, they were very serious about these films and we certainly didn't want to be the guys who messed up the classic Pixar films we were being asked to write. Long story short, we finished the draft of TS3 late 2005, only to have the whole thing tossed out with the merger/buyout of Pixar. "They will never read your drafts,” we were told. We've had projects shelved before, so even though we had put our hearts and souls into the two films, we just moved on. (Ironically, we would end up working for John Lasseter a few years later on Tinker Bell And The Great fairy Rescue". An amazing experience, as we went up to Pixar and were teamed with a power trio of very talented women who over saw the film for Pixar and JL.

So, with the release of artwork on TS3 special features, we thought it might be fun to show some of the images of the story we were working on. Keep in mind the opening of the TS3 that we wrote was a contemporary version of the opening scene they would invent for their TS3.

We thought it would be cool to open the film with a glimpse into the imagination of Andy while he played with Woody and the gang. In our version, Andy was still a young boy so it was not shown in the form of a video flashback...but, like Pixar we too thought it would be fun to see the gang in an intense, action packed sequence...a fool if you will, like TS2. You're in a crazy action sequence only to be sucked out of that world when his mom calls him for lunch, it's there we find we are really inside Andy's mind as he plays with the toys. The idea was such a hit with the director that they immediately began boarding the sequence and hired David Lowery a Storyboard Artist famous for his action sequences like in "Spiderman 2", Iron Man, etc. We even had the same fun with the semi-truck shooting off of a bridge only to be saved by Buzz, which TS3 did with the train.

The story itself was beginning to take shape and we too had a lot of fun with a scene where the toys get trapped in a daycare facility. This was a scene originally written by Jim Herzfeld that we punched up. Ken even made a brief appearance in our draft, (back at Andy's house Ken wandered into Andy's room looking for Barbie who had recently dumped him).

The most fun we had was playing around with the different languages and characters from the other Buzz toys shipped back from around the world. They had all been recalled and were in various states of disrepair/insanity. A quite insane Zurg was the first one to introduce Buzz to his ultimate fate of not being repaired, but sent to the toy crusher. Much easier to just ship out a new one, than actually repair the recalled toys.

Finally, world class Art Director, Ric Sluiter's Viz Dev work is featured here. Ric landed on his feet after the project was shutdown, and now works his artistic miracles at Blue Sky Animation. Pretty obvious why, when you see his work, see more at his blog -

Maybe we'll get around to putting up some of our "Monsters Inc. 2 Vis Dev, when that film has its Blue Ray release!

Finally, some lessons we've learned along the way are that things do have a way of working themselves out. Pixar's Toy Story 3 has turned out to be exactly what it was meant to be and made by the people who were meant to make it...nice to have that perspective some four and a half years later.