Exclusive: The World of WALL-E

The artists behind this year's freshest film share their story with RT.

by Joe Utichi | Wednesday, Jul. 16 2008

To celebrate the success of WALL-E, RT brings together eight key collaborators on the project to share the world of the film, and the journey it's taken since that infamous lunch in 1994, with readers.

Andrew Stanton has been with Pixar since the early days, co-directing A Bug's Life and directing Finding Nemo and WALL-E. He's also contributed to the writing of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL-E. He'll next be involved in an adaptation of John Carter of Mars which will mix live action with animation.

Andrew Stanton:
I had to trick the guys here to get the project going. After we finished Finding Nemo and I came back from vacation - you're basically under-the-radar and no-one's paying attention to you here at that point - with three storyboard artists I secretly boarded the first act of WALL-E, because I felt that if I even tried to talk about it with people here, or how it should work, I wouldn't be able to do get it across. I felt I had to prove it to them and they'll either say, "Yes you can do it," or "No you can't," and we won't waste any time. And that's how this movie got the green light.


Derek Thompson joined Pixar in January 2005 to work on WALL-E. Prior to his involvement with the company he spent 14 years working in comic books, illustration, video games and live action features.

Derek Thompson:
For WALL-E we faced a number of distinct challenges separate from other projects here. One of the biggest ones was the fact that most of the movie had no dialogue. As storyboarding artists a lot of the burden fell on us to try and convey a lot of character and emotion and nuts-and-bolts storytelling without the benefit of lots of dialogue.

David DeVan is an animator at Pixar and has been with the company since A Bug's Life, working on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatouille before WALL-E.

David DeVan:
We looked a lot at Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin - old silent film. It was treated more like we were making a semi-silent film for much of the movie. We all watched The General one day at lunch, they screened it for us. It's really amazingly affective - piece by piece it works, but when you see it all together you really feel those references.

Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

Andrew Stanton:
We also looked at lots of movies that did that so well - 2001, The Black Stallion, Never Cry Wolf - and those are movies where a large portion of them are dialogue-free or not dialogue-dependent. But we found that most great movies have elements like that so it's not that foreign a moviemaking technique, it's just one of those things that if you talk about it, people can convince themselves that it won't work, or they won't go and see something like that.

David DeVan:
Talking is so prevalent in all animated movies, as it is in ours as well, and it was a big challenge to complete abandon that device. WALL-E has to be so charming that you fall in love with him without dialogue.