On this day in 1995 the computer-animated film Toy Story was released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film, directed by John Lasseter, was the first feature-length film produced by Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of Walt Disney. Widely considered one of the greatest animated films of all time, Toy Story and has earned over $350 million.
Today Pixar Animation Studios, located in Emeryville, California, is one of the most successful studios in movie history, grossing over $7 billion and winning 26 Oscars. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 have all won the Academy Award for Best Animated Features.
In his book To Sell Is Human, Daniel H. Pink attributes the success of Pixar to “The Pixar Pitch,” a template that provides a structure for the most important part of every Pixar film – the story:
Once upon a time____________. Every day____________. One day____________. Because of that, ____________. Because of that,_____________. Until finally___________.
The following is an example of a pitch for Finding Nemo:
Once upon a time there was a widowed fish named Marlin who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo. Every day, Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away. One day in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into open water. Because of that, he is captured by a diver and ends up as a pet in the fish tank of a dentist. Because of that, Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo….Until finally Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite, and learn that love depends on trust.
According to Pink, the strength of the Pixar Pitch format is that it a concise and controlled “framework that takes advantage of the well-documented persuasive force of stories” (1). Just as the fourteen lines of a sonnet seem to be the best package for a message of love, the six-sentence template of the Pixar Pitch is the perfect way to deliver a packaged plot.
Today’s Challenge: The Six-Sentence Sell
What story would you tell using the Pixar Pitch as your template? Try your hand at creating a narrative that uses the six-sentence structure of the Pixar Pitch. Imagine that you are making a pitch for the next Pixar feature. If you are working with others, have a contest to see who can come up with the most compelling pitch.
Quotation of the Day: In the South, we tell stories. We tell stories if you’re in a sales position, if you’re in a retail position, you lure your customer by telling a story. You just do. -Tate Taylor
1-Pink, Daniel. To Sell Is Human. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012: 170-174.