Disney Pixar BRAVE Director Mark Andrews

Disney Pixar BRAVE Director Mark Andrews

As I pack and get ready to leave tomorrow to visit LA and attend the premiere of BRAVE in Hollywood, I can’t help but think back to April and the trip to Pixar Studios. It seems like a lifetime ago that I roamed the grounds were some of the most creative people in the animation business work and play.

While there I got to sit down with Mark Andrews, the director of Disney • Pixar’s newest animated feature film, BRAVE. Andrews is a quirky fellow with a mass of untamed brown hair, a quick wit, and the laid back mannerisms of a California surfer dude. Which isn’t far from the truth – Andrews was born and raised in California.

He’s a self-taught artist who had planned to become a Marine after high school, but the people who know him best, his friends and family convinced him that he wasn’t suited for the military life; he was far better suited for the life of an artist.

Andrews ended up at Cal Arts in LA, the school founded by Walt Disney. Andrews reminisces with a huge grin, “And I said, I can actually have a career where I’m just drawing all the time?  Done. Check. And that’s about as far as my inhibition went.  Everything else, doors just opened for me and I just jumped through.”

Andrews goes on, “I went to the Disney internship after Cal Arts, after four years of Cal Arts. I got my BFA.  I was one of five who got the Disney internship.  After that, three months of the internship they would never hire me again.  I was just being myself, being a rebel and now I’ve shown them.  Now, I’ve shown them. That’s right.”

So Andrews left the confines of Disney for the less-restrictive Pixar Studios where he’s worked on several projects. But even in this supportive environment, there are struggles. Andrews explains, “Every project gets bogged down with story, every single one.  Andrew Stanton was up against the line in Wall E. You know, Pete Doctor takes his time developing films; he’s like six to seven years after film. The fastest film we ever had from start to finish was Incredibles. Ratatouille also took forever and it got bogged down with storyboard and it just got stuck and even Brave.

Disney Pixar BRAVE Director Mark Andrews

Disney Pixar BRAVE Director Mark Andrews Tries His Had at Highland Games

Pixar’s BRAVE movie was seven years in development and during that time Andrews was brought in to replace Brenda Chapman. On the controversy surrounding the change, Andrews say, “You know, something has to happen or change and we’ve had director changes here at Pixar before and this is just the thing that needed to happen to free it up to break it. So I come in.  They asked me to take over. I come in, I look at it. It’s a great story. These great characters. This character theme. This parent, child story, right?  Set in Scotland that I love.  It’s medieval that I love, right?  I’m all okay, what, how do we fix this?  So kind of coming in and being an objective eye.”

Andrews goes on to explain his process for bringing BRAVE back to life.  The first thing he did was get rid of everything that seemed unnecessary with the purpose of getting the story down to the bare bones. The new team went from that fresh starting point and started filling in the holes in the story. Thankfully, Pixar Studio executives supported the overhaul even though they’d spent a great deal of money supporting the film to this point and Andrews had just thrown it all out.

Andrews is confident that the finished film is one that audiences will love and he’s proud of the work the Pixar team has done to bring together Brenda Chapman’s original concept to the big screen.

Mark Andrews, BRAVE Director, meets with bloggers April 2012

Mark Andrews, BRAVE Director, meets with bloggers April 2012

See BRAVE in theaters nationwide on June 22, 2012
and follow #bravecarslandevent on Twitter for coverage
on the BRAVE premiere in Hollywood
and Cars Land coverage in Disneyland.