Andrew Stanton remembers his forgetful fish in ‘Finding Dory’

From left, “Finding Dory” producer Lindsey Collins, writer-director Andrew Stanton, Ellen DeGeneres and co-director Angus MacLane pose at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

From left, “Finding Dory” producer Lindsey Collins, writer-director Andrew Stanton, Ellen DeGeneres and co-director Angus MacLane pose at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Pixar Animation Studio’s 17th film “Finding Dory” never was part of the plan.

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL-E”) hoped to make a sequel to his 2012 live-action “John Carter,” but it received an unfair drubbing from critics and audiences, and the project was scrapped.

Yet Stanton has made his peace.

“I’ve always been in it for the long game,” says Stanton, during a recent conversation in the Pixar offices. “That movie will exist on a shelf, or in pill form, or something, and somebody will find it.”

Around that time, Stanton re-watched his Oscar-winning “Finding Nemo” (2003) with an audience and emerged feeling “unresolved” about the Dory character (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres).

“I knew her back story when I came up with her,” he says, describing a character whose short-term memory loss leaves her constantly abandoned by everyone she meets, so she builds an emotional armor of friendliness and optimism.

“People walk out of that movie feeling great and loving her. And I realized that she doesn’t see herself as we see her,” he says. “I couldn’t drop it. So I started to develop the story.”

Stanton says Dory evolved after he had seen DeGeneres performing a kind of mid-thought quick-change on her 1990s TV series “Ellen.”

Later, he begged her to do the role.

“There’s a symbiotic relationship between her and that character that no other Pixar character has,” he says.

But making Dory the lead character in the new movie was a challenge that took time to mount.

“Short-term memory loss is the worst thing to give to main character because you lose self-reflection. That’s the only tool you have to show how a character is changing,” Stanton explains.

Other aspects of the film, however, were easier, describing advances in technology.

Calling “Finding Nemo” a “magic trick,” he adds, “Most of it is underwater, and we’re just floating dust and making a bunch of things wave back and forth. It gives the illusion that we’ve put water in the shot when there’s none.”

Today, animators can create photo-realistic water, and so in “Finding Dory,” they’re showing “everything,” Stanton says.

At Pixar’s outset, he says, “We knew that ‘Toy Story’ would be the ugliest film we would ever make. That’s why we put all our eggs in the story basket. Technology demanded to be improved.”

“Now we’re in a place that, it’s all been solved,” he continues. “It’s like talking about making paint. Nobody cares. It’s how you use the paint. It’s not about technology now; it’s about choice.”

IF YOU GO
Finding Dory
Starring: Voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson
Written by: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, Bob Peterson
Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Rated PG
Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes

Andrew StantonEllen DeGeneresFinding DoryFinding NemoJohn CarterMovies and TV

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read