Friday, June 20, 2014


There's something to be respected in bludgeoning honesty.

You know the kind. The brutal truth that cuts straight into the heart. It's an uncomfortable habit, no doubt, but there's an argument that it often helps more than it hinders.

Because, like it or not, we are all in a search for truth. What kind of person are we? What kind of life can we build? What kind of relationships do we engage in?

The icky questions we can't shake. The ones that take a lifetime to answer.

So we look for help along the way. We look to the trusted voices. We forfeit our perspective to the guidance of the experts.

And, with far more frequency, the experts are speaking to us. The magic of technology provides them a pulpit.

And what are they saying?

“People say ‘It’s all about the story". When you’re making tentpole films, bulls***. The story (of the recent Alice In Wonderland remake) isn’t very good, but visual spectacle brought people in droves. And Johnny Depp didn’t hurt.”


That was Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Technical Officer, Andy Hendrickson, describing the thinking behind the studio’s film strategy. Disney also happens to be the studio that made the 'Alice In Wonderland' remake.

Yes, this is the attitude they have towards their own film.

Is he right? 'Alice in Wonderland' did make $1,024,391,110 worldwide, at the box office.

But consider 'Toy Story 3'. It has a 99% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound Editing. It was the third animated film (after 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Up') to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Oh, and it made $1,063,759,456 at the global box office.

So, you have Hendrickson's expert opinion.

You also have a bundle of facts about two hugely successful films.

Are you now able to determine whether you should follow the expert advice and ignore storytelling, simply making a film with visual spectacle as its centrepiece?

Of course you can't. You don't have enough information. Making a determination now would be allowing someone else to do your thinking for you.

But this is what your peers do, every day. They parrot the platitudes of the self-appointed lords of the manor, using the expert's name as a shield against critical discussion.

And in doing so, they have put themselves on a path to mediocrity.

Yes, you should remain open and listen to people with experience.

Yes, you should heed what has been done in the past.

Yes, you should welcome unabashed honesty.

But you are not an etch-a-sketch, to be shaken clean by an expert and reprogrammed with their perspectives. Andy Hendrickson would proffer you his expert advice, and meanwhile he doesn't seem to realise that his film with a 'not very good story', is derived from a beloved and respected classic book. Two books, actually. Why would you want your thinking to be dictated by his perspective?

Become your own expert. Create your own process. Forge your own path.

Because expertise is short lived, circumstances change so rapidly, and many 'experts' clearly have no clue what they are talking about.

If you need to hear a voice of truth, develop your own.

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