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What if...

All our films begin with an idea that inspires us. Pixar creators discuss the importance of "what if" questions in storytelling and challenge us to reframe our favorite films as "what if" statements. These questions spark imagination, open doors to creativity, and kick off the creative process.

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Video transcript

(metal clattering) - Although our movies involve hundreds of people and take years to make, they all begin with a simple idea about some world and character. - What if there's life out there in the universe? - What if a rat wanted to cook haute cuisine? - What if our toys that, you know, are all around us actually were sentient and can come alive? - These what if questions invite the imagination into a story we want to explore. Let's hear how our story artists use what ifs. - So what if questions kind of really drive that imagination. - The best what ifs are questions that sort of, they feel like a key that unlocks a door. - It really shuts down the logic part of your brain, and it lets you engage the dream part of your brain, and somehow it opens up the doors to imagination, or at least for me it does, and what if sort of seems to ask this question to let yourself wonder. So when it came to writing and directing Sanjay's Super Team, the thing that I came to first was what I wanted to say. What if we could finally see what my father was seeing in his mind with his spirituality and his faith? What if we could show that with vivid, three dimensional, Pixar technology to this little boy who worships cartoons. That was the big what if that I challenged the art department with. - At Pixar, these what ifs are not only fun, but they're a simple way to communicate a story idea and kick off our entire creative process, so it's important to be able to communicate stories in this concise way. In the next exercise, you'll reframe your three favorite films in terms of what if statements.