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Interview with Andrew Stanton
Director and Writer of “Wall*E”
By Marie Asner 

Andrew Stanton has already won an Academy Award for the Pixar animated film, Finding Nemo (2003), which he directed. In 2008, there could be another Oscar awaiting him for the Pixar animated film, Wall*E about a little robot who works on a junk-filled Earth. It is 700 years into the future and humans now live in an enormous spaceship. This clever plot involves the little robot and his robot girlfriend, Eve, who brings a  sweetness to the film. Stanton wrote and directed Wall*E.

Andrew Stanton began his work in films by borrowing his parent's camera and making movies. No surprise, then, to find him studying film arts in college (California Institute of the Arts) and eventually joining Pixar Studios in the early 1990's. Stanton has worked as a writer for Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), plus Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and then directed Finding Nemo. 
Wall*E is not your typical animated film. There is no dialogue, except lyrics from a song, for the first third of the movie. Wall*E is rich with detail including scenes of a junk-filled Earth, Wall*E's birds-eye view of the universe as he hangs onto a spaceship and Wall*E's trip away from the spaceship. This is Science 101 rolled up with Astronomy 101 and Biology 101. It is subtle commentary on waste management, damage to the environment and lack of recycling. In fact, there are few bright colors in the palette of Wall*E, so when green is shown, it really stands out and green here indicates life. There are robots for every type of work and each seems to have their own personality. Humans are enormous and pudgy, eating all day and no exercise.

In a recent phone interview, I asked Andrew Stanton what challenges he encountered during the making of Wall*E and did he and his team ask opinions of scientists or was the film pure imagination. Here is a man who gets to the point. He replied," We chose to go first with pure imagination and then contact scientists to see if this was possible…we went to the jet propulsion lab (JPL) to see how the Mars Exploration Rover was constructed and how it would move on Mars…..we worked with scientists on long term exposure to no gravity while in space (sending humans to Mars) and how the human body would lose bone mass so this is how we came up with the idea of the blobs who literally have no bone structure…the body would atrophy….we went with the idea of what if you did not have a purpose in life, just a blob."  Stanton continued, "Wall*E  is really a love story and we gave Wall*E characteristics of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin." You can see this through the physical actions of Wall*E. He isn't a poised robot, dirt clings to him like a magnet, curiosity sometimes leads him into troublesome situations, but when he sees Eve, he is smitten. 

Andrew Stanton's advice to students who want to pursue a film career, whether it be directing or writing or another part of the industry, is to make your own movies. Be creative. Draw as often as you can, with pen and paper, too, and be inspired by what you see around you. Imagination is the key and be open to your surroundings. Inspiration comes from observing.

I asked Andrew what a director/writer such as himself, would look for in hiring, and his answer was, "Look for imagination and an ability to express yourself so everyone can see what you mean." There you have it---work at your craft, practice your craft and be able to describe your craft so other people can see and feel your passion. Words of advice for any situation. 

In Wall*E, the name of the ship where humans reside in space is called Axiom. It's a word that literally means a self-evident truth, from the Greek word meaning deserving.  Andrew Stanton, in the script for Wall*E, shows that even though on this futuristic Earth, all around may look as though it is falling apart, there is still hope. Wall*E may just be Andrew Stanton's missive to us, that no matter what part of the galaxy, you can't escape love.

Wall*E is rated G and opens in theaters June 27, 2008.  Enjoy.

 Copyright 2008 Marie Asner


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