Andrew Stanton

FINDING GLORY - How to make a successful sequel 

Words: James Luxford
Photo: Getty Images/montage   

Finding Dory (and Nemo) creator Andrew Stanton on the art of making a smash-hit sequel

1. Find your motivation

“I had no intention of going back. I had made other films, and hadn’t watched Nemo in about eight years. But we wanted to re-release it in 3D in 2011 so I had to approve it. I had to sit in the theatre like an audience member and found myself so dissatisfied with how we ended it with Dory. I was worried about her – what if she forgets Marlin and Nemo and gets lost, or doesn’t know where she’s from? She needed closure, she needed to be finished.”

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2. Question your motives

“It can’t be because, ‘Well this one was successful, so the audience will come back.’ That’s never the right reason. We’ve always thought, ‘Does it have the same instincts and fertile ground that the original did?’ What is the spark? What’s the stuff in there that’s really rich, because you’re going to get up out of bed for the next three or four years and it’s not going to work for most of that time, so there better be some gold in that hill that you really think is there.”

THE FACTS: 

  • FULL NAME: Andrew Stanton
  • BORN: December 3, 1965 (age 50)RockportMassachusettsU.S.
  • SPOUSE: Julie Stanton
  • CHILDREN: 2
  • FAMOUS FOR: Directing and writing A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, John Carter
  • UPCOMING: Currently writing Toy Story 4
  • DID YOU KNOW: Joined Pixar in 1990 as its second animator and ninth employee.
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3. ​Don’t be afraid of criticism

“Within the walls of Pixar, it’s a messy, incestuous, overlapping place, and it’s meant to be. We’ve learned on every project we’ve worked on that we make a better film asking advice and input from all our fellow filmmakers in the building. It really makes for something greater than what you could do on your own. It’s like, if you’re trying to teach someone something you already know, you look at it differently. You suddenly understand it better for having said it out loud to another person.”

andrew stanton on Twitter

About to do interviews with some friends. #FindingDorypic.twitter.com/omtUPIRAhS

4.​ Milk the success of the first film

“It turns out one of the benefits of making a sequel, especially a sequel to Nemo, is that we got our phone calls returned pretty quickly. We had the luck of being able to get our dream cast [including Idris Elba as a sea lion and Sigourney Weaver as… the disembodied voice of Sigourney Weaver], and every single person said yes. It was awesome.” 

5. Embrace your inner doubt

“Truly, Nemo was one of the hardest movies to make. It didn’t feel like it was working until the last eight months. Dory was no different. There’s something weird about these films when they’re finally finished and they seem preordained or effortless. It means there was a tremendous amount of pain behind it.”

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