Vision and leadership at Pixar

From Ed Catmull’s talk at the Economist Ideas conference:

I do believe you want a vision, so you start off with a person who has a vision for a story. And we do things to try and protect that vision and its not easy to protect it, because they feel these pressures.

One of the protections is the notion that they have the final say so. Now this is a very hard thing to say because we say we are filmmaker led. The reason its hard is if they can’t lead the team, we will actually remove the person from it.

We will support the leader for as long and as hard as we can, but the thing we can not overcome is if they have lost the crew. It’s when the crew says we are not following that person. We say we are director led, which implies they make all the final decisions, [but] what it means to us is the director has to lead.. and the way we can tell when they are not leading is if people say ‘we are not following’.