Ep 14 | Meg LeFauve - Writer (Inside Out, Captain Marvel, The Good Dinosaur)

Credit: Disney

Transcript

Meg LeFauve: I remember walking out of the first screening and the room was utterly quiet. Nobody clapped. Nobody did anything, and I thought, “Oh my god.” Because you screened the movie to 300 people and employees. I thought, “Oh my god, I’m totally fired.” I walked into the bathroom, and there were women in there crying from the movie, and I was like, “Oh, I’m not getting fired.”

Mike Battle: Hello, and welcome to Red Carpet Rookies. My name is Mike battle, a film production Junior working for Studios in London. Each episode I bring you advice and stories from film, TV, and content professionals to help demystify and democratize the industries for juniors and fans alike. Thanks for joining me. Let’s get started. Today’s guest is Academy Award-nominated Screenwriter and Producer Meg LeFauve. After getting her star in production, working for Jodie Foster makes it her goal on screenwriting and, boy, did she accomplish it? Writing Pixar is universally lauded Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Captain Marvel, and the eagerly anticipated My Father’s Dragon make is a Hollywood go-to for storytelling. If she wasn’t busy enough, she spends her free time giving back to future screenwriters through her fantastic Podcast, the “Screenwriting Life” alongside fellow Pixar alumni, Lori and McKenna, which everybody should absolutely check out for industry advice and mentorship. It’s also the reason that Meg has been the best guest audio we’ve ever had on Red Carpet Rookies. She joins us now from LA. Welcome, Meg. How are you doing?

Meg: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Mike: So, you were born and bred in Ohio, you’re a long way from the Hollywood Hills there. I’d love to hear about growing up there. Perhaps, if your parents’ careers had an effect on what you ended up doing?

Meg: I think they did. I grew up in Ohio, like you said, a little town called Warren, which is about an hour south of Cleveland, on the Pennsylvania border. When I took my husband back before we were married. Literally, I took him from the little town square with the band gazebo out to some Amish, OX roast that was happening. I mean, it was an idyllic place to grow up as a child. But I [also] felt lucky that then my father, who worked for General Motors, we moved a lot. We started moving when I was 16. So, then I started to get a broader experience. I actually went to three different high schools in three different states, we started to move so much. So, I really had to learn how to meet people, and I ended up learning the skill of how to be friends with a lot of different people because I never kind of wanted to get into one group and limit myself that way. So, that moving taught me a lot. I mean, at the time, of course, I hated it. I thought my life was the worst, I thought my life was over. But, of course, then I [get] used [to] it when I grew up and wrote “Inside Out” and understood what it felt like to be upended and be the new girl in school. My parents’ careers for sure influenced me in that my mother was an artist, she was a painter, and my father was an engineer. So, I think I have both parts of my brain that now apply to storytelling, art and being an artist and the ups and downs of that, the ins and outs of it, the business meeting art, all of which my mother went through. She was also an art teacher. I think I took that to my Podcasts. I did teach at UCLA and AFI. We come from a long line of teachers. And then, my father’s engineer brain. It’s really interesting. I sometimes feel like I’m engineering stories, if that makes sense. I really love story math. I love how do you make this work? I often talk about the engine of a story, what are the components of the engine and seeing patterns. I think all of that comes into my writing. I try not to let that come in until after what I call the barf draft, the inspirational artistic draft. I don’t think you can create or should create from it because then it gets mechanical. So, I try to be my mother for inspiration, the imagination and the artistry, and then bring my dad in as the engineer of the story, and how do we develop this? How do we make it better? How do we push ourselves? So, both of those things I use every day.

Mike: The best of both, I guess. Was there anywhere along the way when you were bobbing from those scores one to the next that you realized, you were an artist and you wanted to be a writer?

Meg: I started writing very young. Literally, I have stories that I wrote, the letters are inches tall and slanting to the right. So, I [have] always wanted to be a writer. The bigger issue for me was that I was afraid, I was so fearful of it being wrong and not being right, not being picked or chosen. I remember I sent a story into a Teenage Girls magazine at the time, and I didn’t get picked to be put in, and I said, “Okay, well, that’s it. That’s the verdict. I’m not a writer,” would not really understanding that though that means you are a writer. Every writer has many rejections and things that don’t work out. It wasn’t the right widget for that particular magazine. But I didn’t really understand any of that. I did go to Syracuse University for screenwriting, in which I was a dual major in English Lit and writing and had a great mentor there, Sharon Hollenbeck, who started to teach me those ins and outs, and the artistry of it that I now try to bring to my Podcast so that people can understand it. Because I really didn’t, but I was still chicken, I still came out to Hollywood and ended up going into be an executive and a producer really moving towards that Father brain, really moving towards being the engineer and helping other people with their stories, versus just standing in the spotlight myself standing in that harsh light of really showing yourself which is what the artist had to do. I just wasn’t brave enough to do it until much later in my life.

Mike: You’re talking there about wanting to be a writer and obviously moving out to LA doing the big jump. When you were younger, you’ve mentioned living in a smaller town and such, did you feel maybe different to your peers in that sense?

Meg: I was different from my peers in that my parents bought a piece of land in the woods, and my father had been stationed in Japan for many years, they had my three brothers and sisters there. They so loved it that they built a Japanese house in the woods, I grew up in a Japanese house with Shoji doors and green shag carpet because it was still the 70s. So, I was always slightly different. My mother was an art teacher, she would come and teach art. But I split my parents never let us feel different in terms of we still had to understand that people are people and no people are better than other people. So, it wasn’t, “Oh, I feel different in a bad way.” It was a good way. It was that my mother was driving us to Cleveland to go to museums and ballets. So, artistry was always a big part of my life. But in a very normal way. I didn’t really understand that everybody didn’t have so much original art in their house that it had to be rotated with the seasons. Because my mother just had so much of it. I just “Isn’t that everybody? Does everybody talk like that? So, no, I was... In terms of my own artistry. No, as for anything, like I said, I felt that I wasn’t good enough most of the time.

Mike: So, if you felt you weren’t good enough, I know that later date you set a beacon as you call it, for working for Pixar. Did that come from a more confident stance after maybe your later years? Or was that still something that you had when you’re younger?

Meg: I’ve always been a bit of a person. My father called a dog with a bone. If I decided something, and I decided I wanted something. The best thing you could do is tell me, “No.” Because I’d be like, “Really, I can’t do that it’s not possible? There’s no way that’s possible? But what if it was? What if we could do it? How would we do it?” I just have that brain which, I guess, again, is the engineering brain, like, “Really, it can’t work? This engine can’t work, really? What if we took it all apart and rebuilt the whole thing and invented a new piece?” So, I definitely have been born with that. I think I was born super empathetic. When I was in college, my teacher Sharon Hollenbeck sat me down and talked about the dangers of it that I was creating myself as a writer to be so empathetic, but also I needed to learn boundaries. So that I didn’t give myself away. Constantly live out in other people and their lives, which was a really good piece of advice. I remember her saying, “Or you’re going to have a very painful life.” I was like, “Oh, my God,” so I think that I have always been that dog with a bone person. But no, in terms of the beacon and being brave enough to step out and do it. It really came down to my husband. Once, I was working for Jodi, I’d been working for Jodi for 10-years, our deal was coming up again, to be renewed at Paramount. My husband sat me down and said, “You complain a lot about not writing and not being a writer. If you do it again, I have to tell you, it’s like shit or get off the pot. Like, are you going to do it? Or are you not going to do it? Because if you’re not going to do it, you can’t complain about it ever again. Like, ever.” Of course, at the time, I was like, “Oh my god, he doesn’t love me.” But, of course, it was a great act of love. It was an incredible act of love. I did it, I quit. I think I was also realizing, “Oh my gosh, do I want to be 65 and wonder what if? What if I had actually been brave enough?” If fear is the only thing stopping you, and I was lucky because, like I said, I was married, I had a husband who was also earning money. So, I had the ability economically to step off that cliff and to try it. So, really then the only excuse I have is that I’m too afraid, and that isn’t a good enough excuse to not do something in your life. So, I can’t let that stop you. So, I quit, which was crazy. Once I quit, and I was in that chop where [there were] people like, what are you doing now? You’re writing what? Suddenly, you go from “I work for Jodie Foster” to zero. I had babies, I did all kinds of things to avoid writing. But I think, after I had the babies, I really decided I needed that beacon to get me up every day and to be moving towards something because I hadn’t for 10 years really made my own schedule. If you think about it, you have to go into an office, and you have meetings, and you have constant things to keep you chugging along. But as a writer or an artist, that has to be completely self-created. I wasn’t good at it. I am not good at that. So, I set this beacon and I decided what is the most amazing and yet frightening thing I could imagine, and that was sitting in the “Brain trust room at Pixar” and having that level of a storyteller. Look at my work and give me notes. It’s truly terrifying. It’s so great. How exciting to have Andrew Stanton’s brain, looking at your work that it’s so hot, there’s nothing better, and yet, there’s nothing more terrifying. So, I set that as my beacon on the water. It’s not like in the movies, and then ABC, you get it. It’s like A, Z, C, D, F, G, you go all over the place. But I was gathering tools that I didn’t even realize I was going to need when I got to Pixar. Working with my friend who is a writer but also an actor, and he taught me to play and to let go of that engineer brain. Part of the artistry is to have fun, so he taught me to do that. So, I gathered lots of pieces so that the day that Pixar called, I was ready, relatively as much as you can be, to go into that level of artistry.

Mike: How did it feel when they finally did call? Given that you’d put that beacon in the distance. And then finally, they’re ringing you.

Meg: I [can] literally remember vividly exactly where I was. I was waiting for my sister who was flying in from Chicago, my sister Beth, and I was waiting. At LA, you actually have to wait downstairs, and they all come down the escalator and out the doors. I was standing there watching all these people get off the planes. My phone rang, and I looked at it, and the name is the “Head of development at Pixar.” I was like, “Huh,” and I answered it. She’s like, “Hey, Pete, read your script.” He’s like, “You got to come up, and he’s got this film, and he really loved to meet you to possibly write on it.” Literally, I was like in a sea of people walking by me going “Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Sure, that sounds good.” I just want to scream with delight. I mean, I don’t have the job yet or anything. But I have a chance at the job. My sister came off the plane, and I just started screaming, and she was like, “What is happening?” It was just really a highlight of my life, I’d say that call. And then, when I got a letter, this is many years earlier when I was trying to become a writer, and I was in the middle of that I’d left my job and [was] trying to really now work professionally. I got a letter from Hedge brook, which is a writer’s retreat for women only up in Washington on a little island called “Would be Island.” You had to apply and send your writing. It was my first step out as a writer, showing my writing to people, back to that girl who gave that story to that teenage magazine, I did it again, now, all these years later, and when I got the letter that I was accepted to come. I felt like, “Oh my god, I am a writer.” So, there’s all of those moments in your life that are the lights. The day I got my WGA card, I took a picture and sent it to every friend I had. You hold on to those because there’s also days as any artist where you’re like, “Oh my god, none of this works,” fraud syndrome. Part of artistry is going into the chop, going into the burning lava of who you are and what you have to say. That is hard. That’s part of the artistry. So, there’s always the ups and downs of it. I meet young people who are very much like I was who think “Well, it’s choppy and hard and burns, and I feel like a fraud; therefore, I’m not a writer.” I just laugh, and I’m like, “No, therefore you are a writer.” Everybody, even the geniuses at Pixar, has setbacks, has things that don’t work, has those dark nights where they’re like, “Holy crap.” That is the work. It’s not some sign from the universe that you’re off track, it actually means, “No, you’re [at] work, you’re in process.”

Mike: You’ve mentioned the call, the moment that Pixar rang you up. Do you remember the questions? I’m interested to know the questions he would ask you when he was first judging you for your scripts.

Meg: I got to fly up to Pixar and sit down and have lunch with him. Because we were going to write together. So, this is a very different kind of interview, Pete is a writer, this is very much his film, I was there to help him, [to] express his vision and the tools that I could bring a lot of that structure engineer brain that I was going to bring, but also myself, he needs to know who I am. Every writer, you put yourself in every movie, even when you’re working for a genius director like Pete Doctor, your job is to bring yourself to him to put into the work. So, it was a little bit of getting to know you, and then how do I work with directors. Because I had been an executive and I’d worked with many directors as an executive, I had that view of it very much, which is this is your film, and I’m here to help you get there, [and] get that vision out of your head and into a story. And then he said, “Okay, let’s go upstairs and take a look.” He took me upstairs to the story room and started showing me the drawings, the notes, and where they were with the story. I just started very casually spit balling with him in terms of well, which is, at this point, it’s asking a lot of questions. What do you mean by this? How would that work? Because I’m asking to dig in, I’m digging in, and then a couple of spitball ideas. So, it was a very active, quote, unquote, interview. But again, it had to be because I’m going to be writing with him and again, doing his piece. Of course, every week I’m there, I think I’m getting fired, but I don’t. I don’t know that I’m special that way either. The bar is very high at Pixar. You walk in every morning past a case of Academy Awards. Everybody’s doing their very best. Every artist in that building is bringing everything they have, all of their originality, all of their personal life. Everybody in the building is an artist and doing artistry from the producers to the actual physical artists. So, you do feel a camaraderie in that. But everybody’s standing in the heat of it too, which is great. It’s amazing, special experience to have.

Mike: You’ve touched on it briefly before. Ever since I read Creativity, Inc., which for the listeners is a book by Ed Catmull, who co-founded Pixar, he talks about the brain trust, and you touched on a little bit there. I’d love to hear about what it’s really like in the room and your first experiences. Is it radical candor, as they say?

Meg: Well, it has to be. On one hand, it has to be radical candor because that’s what you’re there for. But that sounds so harsh. That sounds like a weird thing. It’s not at all that, not at Pixar. Pixar is a very special place in that because, again, I’ve done live action and done other things. What’s very special about Pixar is that truly in that brain trust room, the only thing going on, the only motive that anybody at that table has, no matter how big and famous they are, is this the best story? How can we help you get to your best story? Now, sometimes that is radical candor, the best way to help you get to your story is to be very candid about what they didn’t get. They didn’t get it. Is [it] hard to sit there and be in received that? Sure, of course, you’re like, “Oh my god, they didn’t get it.” That’s hard. But you absolutely need to know what your audience [is], be they the geniuses at the brain trust or just the regular job audience, they didn’t get it. That was the hard part. That was always the fire part. But then, you would [always] get the best part, which was “Okay, let’s spitball some solutions. What could it be? It could be this; it could be that.” And wow, to watch them start throwing ideas and how their brains work. I still will be in any meeting I can with Andrew Stant just to listen to his brain work and where it goes as a master storyteller. So, that is the very best part of those brain trusts, is watching them start to originate and manifest. Again, it’s just ideas on the table, you don’t have to do quote-unquote, those ideas, it’s really up to the director, you’re going to go away and take some time off. And then, the director is going to say, “This is what I heard, this is what touched me, this is what I want to do. These [are] the ideas I liked.” And then, you’re going to reboot the whole thing. That’s the other thing a lot of people, I think young writers think that they’re going to write a script. “Oh, look, it’s 115 pages there, I wrote a script, I’m actually getting some people who like it. So, when I get notes, I just go back into my document and I noodle around in it, you put a band aid here, you change that line of dialogue here, I’ll change this scene here and the first act and this.” But that is not at all what we did at Pixar. I think one of the reasons their movies are so good is, each time it’s a teardown, you say “Okay, that didn’t work, you have to go back to the engine, the inspiration, the thing that’s generating this, and we would outline again, we would card all over again,” I’d open a brand new blank document and either rewrite that whole thing. But as scary as that is, it gives you freedom too because you have to recreate this based on all the notes that you got, and you have to be brave and realize that new ideas will come. But I think that is also one of the reasons it was such an amazing experience at Pixar. Because you were doing that level of deep work. Listen, there are so many people throwing good ideas all the time. I mean, it’s like having the chorus of creativity in your head. [There are] people that [say] “Oh, could be this, it could be that. She could do this. When I was an 11-year-old girl, this,” and you’re like, “Oh my God, that’s a great story. I’m putting that in.” So, in animation, as a writer, you’re working with the storyboard artists, so they are storytellers of themselves. So, they’re bringing all of their storytelling chops to you. So, you’ve gone through a lot of machinations and revisions before you even get to that brain trust.

Mike: Given the complexity of “Inside Out,” and I know it went through lots of iterations throughout, was there one moment in one of the brain trust meetings where somebody is, whether it’s yours or anyone else’s turn to the story on a dime?

Meg: Inside Out, it was never that dramatic. I remember walking out of the first screening, the room was utterly quiet, nobody clapped, nobody did anything. I thought, “Oh, my God,” because you screen the movie to 300 people and employees. I thought, “Oh my god, I’m fired. I’m totally fired.” I went into the bathroom because I had to go up to the brain trust, but I needed to get myself together before I went into the brain trust and got fired, which is, I’m sure going to happen. Which it wouldn’t happen, of course, but your fears are driving. I walked into the bathroom, and there were women in there crying from the movie, and I was like, “Oh, I’m not getting fired.” Everybody didn’t clap for me because they were too emotional. Because at that point, early in the movie, the movie ended right at the parents’ hug at the end, it didn’t kind of bringing you back up with all the funds. So that’s when I thought, “Oh, this is working. We got them.” So, I thought that was one moment of my own like, “Okay, this is good.” I’d say “The Good Dinosaur” went through huge shifts in those brain trusts. Even going from the whole plot, shift and one off-site where, by the end of the off-site, he was going to get lost in the woods and have to come back and find home, which was not when we went into that off-site, what the plot of the movie was. So, they can be huge. When you’re really digging in and people are really starting to throw it to a core level. Or they can be making what you have work in a better way.

Mike: One of the questions I’m really interested to know is, did you study any psychology literature when you were working on it?

Meg: Well, P doctor did a tremendous amount before I came to the project. He did years of study on emotions. When I came on, he had picked the five emotions and had a lot of places he wanted to go. In the mind. What I brought to it personally was I had put my children in a pre-school that was called an Attachment, pre-school, meaning they were teaching emotional intelligence in pre-school. So, this Pre-schools idea is that your kids are going to have their whole lifetime to learn A, B, C [and] 1,2,3. But what their brains are really doing at the pre-school level is developing Emotional Intelligence. So that’s what we’re going to help them do. And then, once they have emotional intelligence, it’s much easier to learn your ABCs and 123s and to exist in the world. It was a profound experience for me because they taught you exactly what sadness does in the movie, after [the] bing bongs wagon gets thrown in the dump. So, if you see your kid and he’s been building a block structure, and another kid comes up and kicks it over, and your kid gets angry and starts throwing blocks and getting mad, you don’t walk over and say, “Let me fix it, you can build another one. It’s not that bad,” because that’s all denying the emotional experience of their child in that moment. Instead, you sit down next to them, and you start to reflect back what emotion they’re feeling so that they can start to learn what is this raging feeling in my body? They’re only 3 or 4-years old? You say, “Oh, my God, you’re really angry?” “Yes, I’m angry.” “Why are you angry?” “I’m angry because he just... I worked all day on this block structure.” You have to have empathy. Because if you were writing a paper and on your computer, and the whole thing got erased, you would be pretty mad. Just because you don’t care about a block structure, he cares about the block structure. And then, once you reflect the anger, now, here comes the next emotion behind it, and the tears are coming. You say, “Now you’re sad, you’re really sad.” “Yes, it’s sad, it is sad to lose your block structure, it is really sad, it’s gone.” And then, you wouldn’t imagine how quickly it passes through, and they go, “Okay,” and they stand up, and they run around in there totally fine. Versus “Don’t feel that way. I as a parent, I’m uncomfortable that you’re sad. I feel like I have to fix it.” No, that is not, the philosophy is to let them have their emotions. So, I brought all of that in with me in terms of that scene with sadness, but all of it in terms of... I remember saying to Pete, “If the idea is that joy needs to accept Riley sadness as a way to connect to people, then people are going to have to be sad in this movie, but you can’t not do it in the movie, you have to be brave enough to say, you can be sad in the movie, and it’s going to be okay.” So, it was bringing all of that, I think is what I brought. But again, Pete had done all of his deep research.

Mike: Given that you had such an education in depth from Pixar, did you try and bring that depth when you were doing something radically different to take a gear shift here on something like Captain Marvel?

Meg: Yeah. Captain Marvel, I did with Nicole Perlman. The best part of doing Captain Marvel is getting to meet and work with her. We were in the story part of creating Captain Marvel, we’ve read all of the comics that are bringing in ideas of what the story could be, what is the story of the movie? At that point, you always are bringing what you know about humanity to any project as an artist or yourself, what do you know about humanity, you know about yourself. When you’re at that beginning place, I tried to go towards what I’m curious about, I tried to go towards my questions. So, I had read an article about girls learning to code, and that they quit. I thought, why are we quitting? Why are girls quitting boys? This [was] the question I had. So, I had that deep question, and I took it to Nicole, and we thought about it, and it was about failure, and that girls aren’t taught to fail. We’re taught to be perfect, we’re taught to service everybody else, but we’re not taught to fail.

Mike: Given that Captain Marvel I believe was the first female superhero from the universe? Did you feel a duty to all of those millions of young girls who want to be superheroes?

Meg: Of course, we’d lots of conversations about it and we felt a duty to represent women. But I will be honest, at a certain point we also had to forget it because you can get trapped in it, it can become its own box because no woman can represent every woman. Ultimately, we’re writing a story about a human being. So, while she is a female human, and it should be specific and express herself as a female and our experiences as a female. Ultimately, for me, you have to. In terms of that origination, it was like, as a human being, which is ironic because she’s a superhero. But really, what do we care? That’s what we also care about. What is her story? Why don’t why would we love her and care about her story? What does she want? And all the basic questions you need to ask.

Mike: Speaking of younger girls, but more younger people generally, you’ve obviously started the “Screenwriting Life” to give back to artists and give back to other screenwriters who can learn from people like yourself, what would be your elevator pitch to a budding screenwriter?

Meg: Really, the elevator pitch is everybody doubts, everybody has fears that don’t go away, but they start to feed the creativity and the artistry instead of blocking it on most days, some days they still block [it]. So, it’s just about doing it, and that the muses will start to come more and more, once you make a commitment to sit down every day and write, even if it’s just half an hour, and you have to learn your craft. You have to read scripts on the page of the bachelors who have come before you, watch the movies in the genre you’re writing or whatever you love. Because there are tools and crafts that you have to layer up on, you have to get a toolbox full of craft, and that just takes time, that just takes writing scripts, and many versions of them to learn it. You can listen to me here, you can go and get great teachers, you can go to seminars, I suggest all of those things. But, ultimately, that is not the part of your brain that’s writing, the part of your brain that writing has no access to any of that, it is just a dreamer. It’s dreaming it up out of the unconscious, and it needs time to do its work. It needs time to work on the page for it to come up, and that is the scary part. That’s what I call the lava. Because you don’t know what’s going to come up, you can decide that you want the story to go left, and if it goes right, it goes right because that part of you has its own story it wants to tell, and that’s when you have to be brave and let it go that way. So, it’s about bravery. It’s about fun and curiosity. It’s about doing it. I believe I’m the writer I am because of the choices I made. So, I don’t regret any of my choices. All I learned from working as a producer, and all I learned from Jodie Foster, and all the people I worked with. But I have less time to be a writer, I will tell less stories, you only have so many stories that you can tell in a lifetime. I have less of them because I waited [for] such a long time. So, don’t wait, jump in, learn this craft, learn the skills, get in there, learn it so that then you can move into the artistry part.

Mike: I’ve done a little bit of writing myself, and I’m in some of those communities online. One of the things that seem to come through the most and this is quite specific point. I feel like you’ll probably roll your eyes, it’s probably lots of... what’s your opinion on the agent manager question? More specifically, in a global world if you don’t live in Hollywood?

Meg: Yeah. The best thing for today is that you don’t have to live in Hollywood as much as you used to, honestly because things are so digital and mobile. Of course, it’s easier if you’re here, I would think, but just because you’re in the soup, and you’re meeting people everywhere. There’s more of your crew here, you’re but managers and agents, you need them, I’m not gonna say you don’t need them in terms of finding new work and getting work, doing the deal. But I think [that] if the goal is to get an agent, your scripts reflect that, I think that you become much more mechanical, and you’re writing from your head instead of your gut, you’re writing from what you think people will want versus what you want, you’re writing from the should versus just the organic. Like I said, Love of who you are. So, I think it’s better to write and be brave, and not even be different. Again, using the craft, using the skill set and the tools to show that difference and showcase it. I was reading that the Fleabag was one woman’s show first. That was her process of getting to that authentic self, that authentic thing that she wanted to talk about was, “I’m going to do one woman’s show, and then I will write it into a screenplay, etc.” So, however, you can get there. But that’s the work. I believe in my heart that if you’re doing that work, and it’s a lot of work, it’s not a hobby, it’s a job, it’s a profession, it’s a process, if you are truly doing that, we will find you. Because people will start to pass it around. People will be like, “Oh my gosh, have you read this?” Everybody in this town wants to be the next person to find that great writer. They want to get the chip to send it to their friend who’s an executive and be like, “Oh, my God, look who I found.” So, it does happen, and great writing is found. I literally had a mentee that I thought was a she’s a really good writer. I have no problem sending her script to people to say, “You’ve got to read this.” So that’s not because she got to be my mentee. That’s because she writes a lot, and she writes every day, and she’s digging down into herself, and that’s why she’s a great writer. That’s why she’s going to be found by the agent and the manager. So, I would just reverse it. Right now, if you say I need an agent and a manager, you’re putting the center of yourself outside yourself. That’s very tricky. I don’t know how you get that. But back in yourself, and if you say to me, “Well, I’ve written 10 scripts, and I still can’t get the agent and manager,” I’d probably guess you’re in the pattern somewhere in those 10 scripts. You’re not breaking through that blind spot. How do you find the blind spot? Maybe you’re getting a note in all those 10 scripts, and you’re really not taken the note, possibly, maybe, we could talk about it. Come to my Facebook page on the Screenwriting Life, and we’ll talk about it if that’s what’s happening. I love to figure that stuff out, by the way. Because, as I said, I’m a story junkie.

Mike: You can tell. On that fantastic answer. I’m going to move to our final questionnaire that I do on Red Carpet Rookies with everybody which is my own Ode to any actor studio in my own way. Are you ready?

Meg: I’m ready.

Red Carpet Rookies Quickfire

Mike: Okay, so just say whatever comes into your head. Number one, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Meg: Ever been given is super hard. I’m not going to do ever been given because I’m sure I remember working with “The Doctor” one day, I had a hard day, and we walked out of the meeting. He said I saw you thinking at the table, and you got to stay in, I need you to stay. I thought that [was] the only advice is to stay in, I’d say. The other thing I heard, whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. There’s a Buddhist saying that says, “Busyness is a form of laziness,” and I try to remember that every day, you’ve got to do the harder work that is not busy sometimes of self-knowledge and self-actualization.

Mike: Number two, do you have a favorite film? If our listeners were to watch one piece of your work tonight, what should they watch?

Meg: I always have a new favorite film. I love the crown, the way that it’s about a marriage and about siblings and family in such an extreme big way and in such an intimate way. I’m watching better things right now, which I love. When I’m working on a script, I watch a lot of baking shows. Because they have an end product. When you’re in this thing, and it feels like, “Oh my god, I don’t know how to finish and get this.” In terms of my favorite films, I’d say Blue because Law sky is Blue, and Ratatouille comes to mind. But again, I’ll change it tomorrow. But those are the two that come to mind. In terms of my own work, of course, “Inside Out.” It seems to really reach people and have a big impact on them. So, I hope people will watch it. But I also want to say “The Good Dinosaur.” I think it got lost in the shuffle there. They released two movies in the same year. I think there are beautiful gorgeous, amazing moments that the team of that crew of that movie brought in, and so I would love for people to see it.

Mike: Also, incredibly funny the bit with the “Triceratops” is amazing. Number three, what gives you a reason to get out of bed and write every day?

Meg: If I don’t write those characters, [they] will never exist, they will never get a chance to tell their story. I feel a sacred responsibility to do that. My other reason is panic.

Mike: Number four, which job in the industry would you do if you weren’t doing yours? Now, I know you were a producer before. What would you choose now?

Meg: I would probably be an editor. Again, they’re the last rewrite, but as a person especially right now who’s manifesting from the blank page, it’s just like, “Oh my god, I could be an editor and it could all be there right in front of me and I just have to put the pieces together,” which I know to all that are out there. That is not all it is and that it has its own art, but I’d love to try editing.

Mike: This is a big one and I apologize for in advance. If there’s one person you could work with living or dead who would you choose?

Meg: A dead person I’d love to work with is Sydney Pollack. Alive, I love Meryl Streep. Maybe it’s even cliche to say but it’s just the truth. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman I would love to work for some of those amazing actresses of our time. My last I do want to say for fun. I’d love to work with the rock. I think that would be super fun.

Mike: Who wouldn’t?

Meg: Or Hey, how about Lin Manuel Miranda? Let’s work with Lin Manuel Miranda.

Mike: I was on Mary Poppins. Actually, he used to dance around in the street was fantastic.

Meg: Oh my god, I’m so jealous.

Mike: Number six, what is a book that everyone should read?

Meg: I would say a book that I give out to everybody I know is Cheryl Straits book “Tiny Beautiful Things.” Or her “Dear Sugar” book which is truly one of the most profound amazing books I’ve ever read, I’m currently reading. I just finished “Nothing to see here,” which is amazing. Just the voice is if you want to know what a voice is in writing, read “Nothing to see here.” I also finishing up “Pillory Mantle’s series on [unclear 40:02], which is again, the writing. It’s like chocolate mousse, you just have to read, I can only read like a couple of pages, because it’s so beautifully written that I just need to savor it.

Mike: I love your passion. Finally, if you won an Oscar, who would you thank?

Meg: Well, I would, of course, thank my husband, Joe, and my kids [unclear 40:21] because, without them, I would not be anywhere near where I am. They are my inspiration and my support, and you’ve always got to thank the crew of whatever you got nominated for. Nobody in Hollywood does it alone. I mean, that is an understatement, especially for the writer. But honestly, I have a personal crew, I would call them, my support team, friends who’ve been around me since I first came to LA, before I was even working with Jodi, and who helped me in that transition, and they are really important to who I am. They’re still there with me. Literally, just this morning I was texting with two of them. Because this scene is not working, and what if the whole trip doesn’t work? What if this doesn’t work? They were sending back funny things to make me laugh and perspectives, “Maybe go sit in the closet and see if you feel bad?” Lauren and I share on our podcast that camaraderie of not being alone, I think you need it as an artist. You are alone in your artistry, that is a fact, it is you bringing up your own humanity and authenticity. But you need to put your crew around you, even if it’s just one person, two people who believe in you, and it’s just essential to me.

Mike: A lovely answer. That brings us to the end of our time. Thank you so much to Meg LeFauve for joining me, it’s been enlightening to look not only behind the doors of Pixar, but [also,] your mind as a writer. For anyone listening to this show. Please be sure to check out Meg’s podcast “Screenwriting Life” that is available on all major podcast players. Have an awesome day and we’ll see you next time.

Meg: Bye.