Author: Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace
Title: Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
Published: Apr 8, 2014
I picked up this book as soon as I saw it was coming out. I’ve always loved Pixar films. They’re entertaining and extremely well made. I don’t know much about the animation business, but they always seem to be pushing the envelope and leading the industry.
The book, written by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, details a bit of the history of Pixar as well as some overarching themes of their company that have helped them to produce so many box office hits. Ed lays out some foundational elements that he believes have shaped the company so far – particularly candor and honesty.
I expected to read quite a bit about how Pixar is run and how they develop movies. Catmull definitely delivered. He described in detail the Braintrust meetings, where company leaders get together in an honest and open environment to discuss the progress of movies in production. He goes on to stress the importance of being upfront and honest with feedback even delving into some experiences where allowing a movie to flounder cost them quite a bit of man hours and finances for a film that never hit theaters. Even more, Catmull described many of the roadblocks they have run into along the way and offers potential solutions.
At the end, the book discusses the Pixar merger with Disney, a huge undertaking no doubt. Catmull describes how he has attempted to fiercely protect the culture at Pixar and the difficulties of managing two huge creative companies at once.
This book certainly wasn’t a how-to when it comes to cultivating a creative culture. There isn’t a step-by-step guideline in the book that leads to creative genius being formed. Instead, Catmull relies mainly on past experiences and reflects back on how those experiences drove decisions and pushed the company forward. I found the book to be interesting and informative from the point of reading about the origins of Pixar. As for take home implementation, readers can find that to. Although a few of the ideas that Catmull reflects back on may not be possible for smaller creative groups, the underlying message is certainly applicable. If nothing else, it’s interesting to read about the history of Woody, Buzz, and all of your favorite digital characters.