John Lasseter CalArts Graduation Speech

Can you imagine John Lasseter showing up at your school/uni/place of work to give a motivational speech? Can you begin to wonder how inspired you’d be if the man behind Pixar and some of the greatest animated films of all time were to utter some words of wisdom in the same space as you?

For the vast majority of us that will never happen, but thanks to the wonder of YouTube we can peer into a world where, for some very lucky graduates, the experience was very much a reality.

At CalArts Lasseter showed up, after being given an honorary degree, to address a crowd that clearly revere him as a god like figure. And the great thing is that Lasseter laps it up. You can see how much fun he’s having and you can easily turn green with envy at both those in attendance and the amazing life of Lasseter himself.

A couple of thoughts in there ring so true for me, in particular the sentiment “it is so important to create in your own voice”. As a writer I see so many self-help guides and pieces of teaching that tell you how to write, what you should include in your writing, how to format your work etc etc. And I think that is total rubbish. That’s not to say I’m anti-education, but when it comes to art you learn by appreciating and analysing those who have gone before, not by following a formulaic set of rules laid out by a self-proclaimed expert. People need to find their own style and voice by working and creating in their own way; I’m glad Lasseter feels the same.

And to surround yourself with others: “You need others…work with others. Lean on others. Celebrate others”. This fits in with the mindset of another genius Harold Ramis, who said he owed his entire career to collaboration.

It’s also just ridiculous that John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Michael Giaimo, Chris Buck and Tim Burton were in the same class together! That’s way too much talent in a single room.

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

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