The most highly regarded family and animated movies -- critically and through box office success -- have something for everyone. What then followed was Disney Animation’s second resurgence through the likes of Wreck It Ralph and Big Hero 6.
And the concept of Four-Quadrants has even expanded to projects that skew a little older, but still fall under the umbrella of young (teens in this case), old, men, and women. We turn to Part II of Disney Animation Producer Kristina Reed’s exclusive one-on-one with ScreenCraft.
ScreenCraft: Are there certain character types and themes that best fit within a film geared towards the whole family? What's interesting is that the high level summaries can apply to many films but the great ones are the ones who told their stories well. So at the start of Kung Fu Panda, the story team knew that Po would be heavy, because pandas are just built that way, but they also knew it wasn't right for our character to defeat the villain and save the town by turning into some kind of muscle-bound hero. Eventually, they pinpointed that Po's central flaw was not his weight but the lack of confidence his weight caused. Kristina Reed: The concept of a Four-Quadrant film really speaks to how to make the film appeal to as many people as possible.
Think Pandora in Avatar, San Fransokyo in Big Hero 6,or in the Harry Potter series, an entire complex world of wizards overlaid onto our own world. The theme of wanting to be different from who you really are is a perfect example of a fundamental and universal theme: we've all experienced this, no matter our age or gender.
ScreenCraft: What are some of your favorite family-oriented films, both in live action and animation? But going one step further, for me personally, I think Elastigirl is one of the greatest mom characters to ever grace the screen (live action or animation).
Kristina Reed: I can only speak to the process at Dreamworks and Disney Animation, where we are largely looking for writers to ride along through the process with the film director(s). Additionally, those studios, as well as Pixar and many others, hammer out creative in the story room -- which generally means with a team of story artists and the director(s).
In particular, making an animated film generally takes years which gives us some bandwidth to keep reviewing the film in pieces and as a whole and keep polishing. ScreenCraft: Are there any secrets to writing humor that both adults and children can appreciate and laugh at? In Kung Fu Panda, there's a moment where Shifu runs in to the kitchen with horrible news that the master turtle has died and Po is caught standing there with two round wooden bowls on his chest, like breasts.
When the audience can feel what the characters are feeling, then the story can take them anywhere. ScreenCraft: What types of things in screenplays turn you off or disengage you as a producer?
Kristina Reed: In a nutshell, I'm turned off when I can't tell what the characters are feeling. As you write, take a moment after finishing each scene and make sure you know what your main character is feeling. ScreenCraft: What’s the best advice you can offer for those wanting to get into animation?
Over the years, I’ve learned and developed new techniques, methods, and processes that have changed all that.

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ScreenCraft is dedicated to helping screenwriters and filmmakers succeed through educational events, screenwriting competitions and the annual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship program, connecting screenwriters with agents, managers and Hollywood producers. These are the projects that have the most outreach in regards to which audiences embrace them most.
Look no further than the resurgence of Disney animation in the 1989 and through the 1990s with the likes The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin. Their Four-Quadrant movies brought forth an added depth accompanied by new animation technology in the form of CG -- Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E, Inside Out, etc. Throughout the history of Hollywood and cinema in general, there have existed Four-Quadrant movies that continue to stand the test of time. This was a breakthrough of sorts, because it meant that all the film's training moments (and ultimately the film's journey) would not be about getting better shape but finding the thing in himself that would make him victorious. The biggest challenge with animation is to make sure we're never pigeon-holing ourselves into making a film that will only entertain kids.
The initial sketch of the main characters will often be part of this first pitch, but they get additional shaping and fleshing-out, along with the details of the world and specifics of the themes as the story starts to evolve. It doesn't have to be an actually-big world (think Forrest Gump or Wreck-it-Ralph) but it has to bring you into a place or point of view that's different from your daily existence.
Going back to the Wreck-it-Ralph example, the main character -- Ralph -- wants to break out of the one-dimensional role he's had for decades. Now to add the fun and the humor, without ever straying from the authenticity of each character's feelings, and you have the makings of a movie for all audiences. It has everything we've been talking about: relatable characters, each with a flaw to overcome and a journey to take, along with smart production design, great action set pieces and wonderful, entirely character-driven humor. Speaking as a mom and a career woman, I think that family is a testament to Brad Bird's brilliance with that film. If you had told me that you were going to show me a film about a human accidentally raised as an elf who now needs to leave the North Pole to find his true self, I would have begged you not to. Samples generally come to us through agents, and we're looking for the following skills (in varying priorities, depending on the project): structure, humor, character. The directors had made the decision to take the gag out right before we screened for a test audience of fifth graders. Make the character emotionally true in everything he says, whether it's meant to be funny or not. As Rapunzel is setting foot outside her tower for the first time in her life, she pauses just before she lets her toes touch the grass. After the discovery of the internet, not only the demands for top-notch copywriting service increased, but the process of hiring and employing them became much more simple.
In the case of Four-quadrant projects, they appeal to the young, the old, men, women, and everyone in between.

The audience, often consisting of families, could laugh, cry, and scream in delight while on the edge of their seats.
The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Avengers, Harry Potter, Night at the Museum, etc.
Kristina is an Oscar-winner through her work in the instant classic Disney Animated Short films Paperman and Feast. In Po's case, it was his resilience, literally his ability to take a blow and get back up, over and over, that defeated the villain. At its core, what every audience member wants, regardless of age and gender, is to go on a journey that is fun and emotionally resonant. No one in his current world will to support this change so he literally has to break out of his current world.
And that character in particular I believe and relate to: a woman who can stretch in any direction, who loves her husband and her kids, who literally contorts herself to save them every day in a variety of ways, and every word that comes out of her mouth is entirely true to who she is and what she's about. But because Jon Favreau tells the story with complete emotional truth as to who this character is and what he's going through every step of the way -- finding the real resonance in each scene of this characters' journey -- he's created a story for all of us who've ever felt out of place. This is not saying that many writers aren't those things, but that the story process requires those qualities to be highly developed. It made me understand what a big moment this was for her and that she knew it and it made me root for her. If you think back about movies that didn't engage you, I suspect it's because the protagonist didn't ring true. Give them a line or an expression or a mannerism or small action to bring me into her head. For starters, there are many animation studios, creating all different types of animation for a huge global animation market.
Thus, copywriting is now one of the most lucrative businesses and is a viable career option. It was a beautiful resolution of the challenge because it allowed us to say that becoming the hero of your own story is not about losing weight or building muscles or fundamentally altering your body, but instead, determination and grit. Setting this story in a video arcade, seeing Ralph's world as one free-standing game, with a power strip that represents Game Central Station, where characters can travel to other free-standing games, uses the actual world of the film to crystallize the themes. Looking at the other side, for the stories that did engage you, it's because the character made you feel.
These moments -- done right -- won't bog down your film; they will only bond your audience to your protagonist, and when you get to your final third-act set piece, you will have earned the emotion. The work experience can range from highly collaborative multi-national productions to the proverbial independent artist working in their garage. Ultimately, we want to make a film and a story that is so strong and so enjoyable that families watch them for decades. With skills acquired through experience, a copywriter's value eventually increases along with his pay.
Animation needs all sorts of talents, from artistic to technical to strategic to financial and so on, so always I encourage people to explore and network.

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