Dan Scanlon

Dan Scanlon

For writer/director Dan Scanlon, Monsters University does not necessarily mark his directorial debut. He wrote, directed, shot, and starring in an independent comedy called Tracy in 2009. But to compare making an independent live-action comedy to being in control of a $100-million plus budgeted animated tentpole film at Pixar — based on an existing and beloved Pixar property, no less — seems like an unfair need to do. In this context, Scanlon is the rookie. Charged with bringing characters like Mike and Sully back to the big screen, the director seemed very aware of the prestige that goes along with directing at one of the film world’s most innovative houses. Yet, as we sat down at a table just outside The Steve Jobs Building on the Pixar lot to talk about his Pixar directorial debut, the longtime storyboard artist and writer (Cars, Brave) was one other important thing: calm. If there was ever any pressure for the young writer/director, it has long come and gone. At this point, he seems to be enjoying this part of the ride. In our conversation, we talked about the pressure, the innovation and the lessons learned during his first run in the director’s chair at Pixar.

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dan scanlon andy

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Dan Scanlon has worked at Pixar for almost twelve years (he started the day before 9/11), and it’s taken this long for him to direct his first solo effort for the studio, Monsters University. Actually, though, that’s not a very long time to wait, especially considering he’s the youngest person there to helm a feature (he turns 37 two days after the movie hits theaters). Prior to this, he co-directed the 2006 Cars short Mater and the Ghostlight with John Lasseter and had been a storyboard artist on Cars, Toy Story 3 and Disney DVD sequels The Little Mermaid II and 101 Dalmatians II and was on the senior creative team for Brave. In 2009, Scanlon put out his award-winning feature debut, a non-Pixar-based live-action mockumentary he stars in titled Tracy, which you can watch as a web serial here. That’s not all the past works of his you can watch online. Much like Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who got the Short Starts treatment a few weeks back, Scanlon has been quite generous and not at all shy about his early work. He’s personally uploaded a handful of films he made in high school and at Columbus College of Art and Design, many of which he appears in or voiced characters for (in The Chase he plays a guy who likes to be peed on, which hopefully isn’t a sign […]

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Monsters University - International Poster

While not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together tend to make audiences sit back and wonder, geez, I wonder what these two were like in college?, not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together came with the sort of sweetness and humor that Pete Docter‘s Monsters, Inc. did. Next year’s prequel to the Pixar hit, Dan Scanlon‘s Monsters University, takes us way back into the early years of Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski’s (Billy Crystal) friendship and matriculation at, you guessed it, Monsters University. Lucky for us, the project has started to roll out some teaser posters (and they are OMG adorable, squeee), including an international one up top and a domestic one after the break. Who knew college could be so totally charming?

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Monsters University

Pixar and Disney are going back to college (and back into sequel/prequel territory) with Monsters University. The movie, of course, acts as a feeder school into Monsters, Inc., and features John Goodman and Billy Crystal in their old/younger voice roles. The film is being directed by Dan Scanlon (one of the writers on Cars), and while it’s not at all an indicator of quality, this first teaser trailer is pretty dull. It’s not at all imbued with the kind of Pixar magic we’ve come to love – with its generic voice over and obvious gags. The timing doesn’t even seem right. Check it out for yourself:

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It’s no surprise that Pixar is going into its bullpen to choose a director for their sequel to Monsters, Inc. Neil cast his vote for Angus MacLane (who directed the Wall-E short Burn-E), but we can now confirm that the job has gone to Dan Scanlon. This will be Scanlon’s first feature film, but he has a writing credit on Cars, a co-director credit on the short Mater and the Ghostlight, and he’s acted as a storyboard artist on several project. It’s difficult to say what kind of job Scanlon will do with Monsters University, but he’s got the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the Pixar team. The question really is, what will fans want to see in the sequel? What kind of partying does a young monster do while away at school?

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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