THE PIXAR STORY
A Bright Spot in the History of Entertainment
Release Date: August 28, 2007
Starring: Brad Bird, Loren Carpenter, Ed Catmull, Diane Disney Miller, Roy Disney, Michael Eisner, Bob Iger, Steve Jobs, Ollie Johnston, Glen Keane, John Lasseter, George Lucas, Alvy Ray Smith, Andrew Stanton, Frank Thomas, Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, and narrated by Stacy Keach
Audience: All ages
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: Pixar/Disney/Buena Vista/Walt Disney Company
Director: Leslie Iwerks
Executive Producer: Spot in the History of Entertainment **
Producer: Leslie Iwerks
Writer: Leslie Iwerks
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, and Buena Vista Distribution)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
One of the heroes of the story is John Lassiter, who as a child got a copy of a book called “Walt Disney’s Art of Animation.” He was amazed you could make a living doing animation and decided at a young age that’s what he wanted to do. In the 1970s, he managed to study under “the nine old men” who created some of Disney’s classic animated features. In 1980, he was hired by Disney and began some early tests of computer animation. They were not well received. He was laid off (here’s where you can point out to your children that big setbacks can be important steps to success if you don’t let them crush your dreams).
Lassiter then met Ed Catmull and was instantly hired as the creative force for Pixar. Catmull and his coworkers were brilliant scientists developing computer animation technology but they needed a creative artist interested in computer animation to push their technology in truly artistic directions. The mix was great but the technology took years to reach the level necessary for a full-length feature (here’s where you can point out to your children that perseverance is vital to success).
When things were looking bleak financially, Pixar was sold to Steve Jobs, the legendary entrepreneur who was one of the founders of Apple Computers. A deal was made with Disney to produce the first-ever full-length computer animated movie. Michael Eisner of Disney pushed for an “edgy” animated movie aimed at adults. After much work the results were disappointing. Disney prepared to pull funding. Lassiter scraped the adult approach, returned to his root ideas and put out TOY STORY (here’s where you can point out to your children that integrity is a requirement for true success).
Pixar has amazed the entertainment industry by producing seven consecutive successful movies. While they work to avoid becoming stale by repeating the same formula, they maintain standards that include being clean, telling compelling stories and insisting on creating characters you care about. They treat storytelling as a craft and they are rewarded with critical and consumer respect. The brand name is worth millions on opening weekend because people trust that if it’s a Pixar movie, it’s going to be good. The same cannot be said for those who release nasty horror shows one week and something aimed at families the next.
The only drawback to THE PIXAR STORY is that you may go home discouraged that you’re not working for Pixar. The work is not for everyone – it’s obviously VERY demanding -- but it looks like a job you could love if you have a creative bone in your body (here’s where you tell your children work can be enjoyable and rewarding beyond just getting a paycheck). Sadly, the movie came out as a VERY limited release, so look for it on DVD in 2008.
THE PIXAR STORY is not a movie for toddlers but it would be great to show to older children and teenagers. In an age where many documentaries are left-wing attacks on American society, including its economic policies, it’s refreshing to see an inspiring story about capitalists striving to make the highest quality products they can. We need more stories that inspire children to want to grow up to do something really good with their lives. The movie also contains other great lessons about hard work, perseverance, integrity, and purity.