Presto (2008) Movie Script

Hi, my name is Doug Sweetland,
and I'm the director of Presto.
I'd like to take this opportunity
to just point out
all the brilliant contributions
of everyone who worked on this short,
but, unfortunately, that would take
the length of a feature,
so I salute you, Presto crew.
Presto crew forever.
And, instead, we'll discuss
some of the underlying ideas
that are at the heart of Presto,
things that we were thinking about
while we were making this short.
Starting out, it's clearly sort
of a classic cartoon throwback,
but with some key differences
that I think make it intrinsically Pixar.
First, the short takes place in real time,
which means that we can't really cross
dissolve from a gag to another,
or from one set piece to another,
as is often the case
in old classic cartoons.
Ours has to run in real time much more
like its own sort of sequence
in a feature or something.
Which makes it, then, a self-contained
story in five minutes,
and not a serial.
Lastly, it's entirely pantomimed,
meaning that even though
they have voices,
we can't use jazzy dialogue
to kind of push things along.
One idea we wanted to convey
early on is just that
Presto is... Well, he's clearly a cad.
And that even though he has
these powerful magical hats,
he doesn't really have
any magical powers himself.
And so, in a way, this whole act
is sort of his exploitation
of these hats and this rabbit,
rather than by his own merit.
In fact, a friend had pointed out
how limited his imagination is.
He has what might be
the most powerful device in the world,
this sort of teleportation device,
and he only uses it to stage
sort of a mediocre magic act.
Another important concept
from a character standpoint
was just making Alec
as sympathetic as possible.
So here we are in sort of the gag
onstage/offstage section of the short,
and just notice that Alec's brows
are incredibly sad.
He's doing some sadistic things
to Presto,
but we just felt for the humanity
of the short
that he's not, himself, a sadist,
he's actually incredibly apologetic
and wishes that it didn't have
to come to this,
but it just simply must come to this.
Really, that was, like, a tweak that
came sort of late in the process
and it came just right down
to changing his brows.
For the longest time,
they were sort of like angry brows.
And just lightening them up
and making him look sorry,
I think, adds to the sympathy and,
hopefully, to the humor of that stretch.
Another thing is just notice that
he doesn't really ever move
from that spot on the table
and that's another important thing.
You think classic cartoons,
everything's got to be completely zany.
But a lot of, hopefully, the humor
and certainly the strength of Alec
as a character
stems from the fact that he's able
to do all of these things
without actually even really
barely moving at all,
certainly not his...
If you're looking at his feet.
And so, I think an interesting
thing to point out,
Presto has to move
a tremendous amount.
He's running up and down the stage,
he's very physical.
He affects Alec not at all.
Alec, not moving, is able to then
affect Presto a tremendous amount.
Looking at the ladder gag,
this is just an interesting example
of the story process,
that gag was really controversial
just because its physics
aren't sort of obvious.
So we tried cutting it,
but, actually, it made its way back
in the reels
simply as a way of getting Presto back
to center stage
so he could smash the carrot.
That is interesting to me in that it didn't
make its way back in by its own merit,
but simply as this ulterior
sort of choreography.
Looking towards the end,
there's actually a pretty huge hole
in logic, and it's coming up.
It's when Presto brings the carrot back.
Now you remember when he smashes
the carrot on the table,
he has no intention or reason at all
to save the carrot for later.
But we get past this point where
Alec has saved Presto's life
and he's somehow able to play it off
as if he'd intended to bring back
the carrot the whole time.
But, yet again, for no reason at all,
and it's just interesting to me that
in having shown this short
around the world,
no one has ever brought that up to me.
The fact that
it's basically this flawed logic,
and I think it's because...
I think, hopefully, the audience
is invested so much in what's going on,
on a character level, that they want
Presto to bring the carrot back.
And the fact that he's a magician
and he performs a magician's trick
is excuse enough
to allow the carrot to sort of exist again.
Another thing is it sets up
Alec coming out of the hat
at the end, which was intended
sort of as an ironic resolution,
that only when Presto completely
gives up
on the idea of trying to get Alec
to come out of the hat,
does Alec come out of the hat.
Only when he makes
a true gesture of reconciliation
does he get what he wanted all along.
So this is the happy ending
that you don't normally see
in classic cartoons.
And I have to say,
it worried me for a while
that it might not play
because it's sort of unconventional,
but I am very satisfied now
that we did, indeed, find
the best ending for this short.
It's one of my favorite parts.
Lastly, I would just add
that what you've watched
is just a combination
of unbelievable talents.
Definitely plural.
I don't think there's any one person's
work over another,
and, so again, I just sing the praises
of absolutely everybody
who contributed to this short.
So that brings us to the end of Presto,
and thank you very much for watching.