Taking advantage of an opportunity to hear and meet with John Carter director Andrew Stanton, Los Angeles based members of the 8,400 member strong John Carter Sequel Facebook Group trekked to the Hero Complex Film Festival on Sunday for a screening of Wall-E followed by a Q and A with Stanton hosted by the LA Times’ Geoff Boucher. Representing the Facebook John Carter group were Daria Brooks and Madeline Gann, whose 26 theatrical viewings of John Carter are unmatched (as far as we know)…..and Jan Austin, author and proponent of the John Carter Sequel Fan Petition. Other group members on hand included Sparky Santos, Gary Hatch, Wendy Van Camp, Patrick Malloy, Jack LesCamela, Cindy Pattison. and Oscar Sanchez.
During the Q and A, the group heard Stanton field questions from Boucher on his experience at Pixar as an animator, writer,and director on films including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E. For Jack LesCamela, the biggest takeaway from the session was hearing Stanton talk about the Pixar concept of animation as something that, while children-friendly, is not meant to exclude adults: “”It’s something we’ve been saying since 1992: (At Pixar) we don’t make movies for children. We don’t make movies inappropriate for children –we’re not interested in that– but we make the movies for ourselves, and the age range is from 25 to 75.”
Wendy Van Camp said, “He spoke about Steve Jobs too. How the man was a genius and how he loved to work with him. Called Jobs a born leader.” Van Camp added: “You know, I have to say that I was very impressed with Andrew’s manner. He was very kind and friendly to everyone that was there, even when faced with a long line of fans. Genuine warmth.”
Sparky Santos was struck by Stanton’s openness to doing sequels of Pixar’s growing catalogue of animated hits: “”If the STORY is there – we’ll do a sequel” — and the fact that development at Pixar can take years, longer than the average tenure of a studio chief in other studios. “Studio heads come and go, but the creatives in Pixar continue on. It is a 30 year effort,” Stanton said, likening the process to planting a tree and sticking around to see the tree grown and enjoying its benefits in the future.
Daria Brooks said, “I was also impressed with Stanton’s remarks about not being “preachy” about causes or messages through his films, particularly with Wall-E and the subject of recycling, likely the basic message that everyone gets from that film. I suppose that if you look at it from a cinematic point of view, you can actually tie it to John Carter in that you’re contrasting the barely habitable Mars of 150 years ago to an uninhabitable Earth of 700 years from now. If either makes the audience understand the folly of wasting resources, it wasn’t Stanton’s intention to beat the audience over the head with the idea. He wants to communicate a great story (and it’s OK if we learn something from it as well). I love directors who feel that way about their art.”
Facebook Group member Patrick Malloy said, “I found it interesting that he said that Studio Heads come and go, but that Pixar/the Pixar way of doing things will outlast any studio head. This made me feel encouraged that John Carter will in fact weather the storm, being that he is following the Pixar playbook. It is the Pixar way to see a project that is believed in through to fruition, regardless of the current whims of current heads of studios and executives. His project will outlast all of those particular hindrance, for he knows that he is in it for the long haul. I was also encouraged when he talked about how, without anyone being the wiser, he worked in secret upon Wall-E, so that he had a certain amount of the project ready to present before it was officially started. His reason was that if what he had was good, then he could proceed with it, while if it missed the mark, then he had not wasted any “time/money”, since the project was not officially started yet. I would imagine that he has done, or will do, the same with the John Carter sequel project. Lastly, it is interesting that Wall-E was chosen for the Hero Complex film festival, as it provided him a way to connect with fans and thus be visible. He is showing how positive and passionate he is as a filmmaker and creator. It seemed to me that he was making in a subtle nuanced manner the statement that ‘I am here, my spirits are not dampened in the least and I am in this for the long haul.'”
Or, as John Carter would put it: “I still live!”*
[*Thanks to group member Mike Carlock for pointing this out!]