Pixar is one of the most secretive studios in Hollywood, and it is one of the few that is actually very good at maintaining that level of secrecy, an incredible feat for the age of the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. Although we know the story about how the studio was formed and its process for developing films, there is quite a bit about the inner workings of Pixar that we still do not know. Today, a new book by Pixar’s president, Ed Catmull, was released, and it is packed with fascinating stories about the studio!
“Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way Of True Inspiration,” co-written by Catmull and Amy Wallace, a journalist currently serving as Editor of Los Angeles Times’ magazine, focuses on how to run a successful business, with numerous stories from Pixar’s history used to illustrate the points. The book has earned major praise from the press, with some even hailing it one of the best business books ever written.
The official description of the book is below:
From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath.
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”
For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as theToy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity reallyis. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:
• Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
• If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
• It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
• The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
• A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
• Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board.
Pixar is well-known for the way it makes feature films because the studio has had a bevy of success stories. Catmull has played a major role in helping Pixar get to the position it is in today, so it is great to have the opportunity to hear what works, directly from him. The book is sure to be a great resource to anyone interested in how Pixar functions.
“Creativity, Inc.” is now available nationwide. You can purchase a copy from Amazon here!