check this out: there is a great interview over at CNN with John Lasseter.
some worthwhile quotes from the article:
"My older brother Jim, who passed away six or seven years ago, was a brilliant interior designer who studied Japanese design. What he loved about their approach is that they'll design something and then they take away until they can take away no more. We have adopted that same philosophy here in our films."
"'You know, what I think makes sense in fashion design is to take a really wild fabric and then make a classic pattern or piece of clothing with it. Either that, or you take a classic fabric and make a crazy pattern with it.' [Jim] said if you design things that way, there is something familiar for people to relate to. But if you do both - take a crazy fabric and make a crazy pattern - people can't make any sense of it."
"Let me tell you a funny story. I took the family to see this film one weekend - I'll go to see almost any film that's good for the whole family. And so we're sitting there watching this film, which I won't name, and there are long stretches that are just not very entertaining. My little son - he was probably 6 at the time - was sitting next to me, and right in the middle of this dull section, he turns to me and says, 'Dad? How many letters are in my name?'
"I must have laughed for five minutes. I thought, Oh, man, this movie has lost this little boy. His mind has been wandering, trying to figure out how many letters there are in his name. So I told my wife, Nancy, what he said, and she started laughing, and then the story went down the row through my whole family, our four other sons, and we're sitting there as a family giggling and laughing.
"And I thought to myself, If ever a child anywhere in the world leans over to their daddy during one of my movies and asks, 'How many letters are in my name?' I'll quit."
the bit about japanese design is very useful for filmmaking, i think, and the second bit about always keeping something in your character that people can relate to is really important too. hope you guys take the time to read the article; it's a very good read.