Monsters film school
DAN SCANLON REVEALS HOW MAKING MONSTERS UNIVERSITY PREPARED HIM FOR THE CHALLENGE OF DIRECTING ONWARD
Sequels can be a tough nut to crack for any director, prequels tougher still. So when Dan Scanlon made his Pixar directorial debut with a prequel to the beloved Monsters, Inc. it proved a steep learning curve. “A prequel is a hornets nest in a way,” Scanlon tells 3D World. “You get the characters that you get and you can’t change them wildly because they have to hook up to the next film.” As the filmmaking process got underway Scanlon came to realise that the art of a prequel is in meeting the characters as different people and surprising audiences with the backstory of how they got to where we saw them last.
Scanlon worked with Kori Rae on Monsters University, kicking off a creative partnership that would continue into Onward. “I love what the movie became about,” he continues, “it was a movie about the obstacles in life. It felt like something I hadn’t seen a lot in movies, especially kids’ movies. They tend to tell you that if you work really hard and don’t give up then everything will work out, though that’s a wonderful message, frankly it’s not always the case. Kori and I were excited to make a film that would be there for people who hadn’t had that experience.”
Monsters University equipped Scanlon with valuable experience ahead of taking on Pixar’s first foray into the fantasy genre. “I learned about working with the crew at Pixar,” he recalls, “these incredibly talented artists and filmmakers. Going into Onward I knew what they were capable of and what I could challenge them with. It was a cool experience going into Onward with the confidence of having done this once before.”