Christian Filmmaker Named Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation
The announcement that John Lasseter would be leaving Pixar due to misconduct allegations left many wondering who would guide the creative side of the animation studio. Disney announced that Pete Docter would take on the duties of the chief creative officer. Docter has been with Pixar since the beginning, as one of the writers and animators on TOY STORY, and has since written and directed such hits as MONSTERS INC, UP and INSIDE OUT. “I am excited and humbled to be asked to take on this role,” Docter said. “It is not something I take lightly; making films at Pixar has been my chronic obsession since I started here 28 years ago. I am fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people on the planet, and together we will keep pushing animation in new directions, using the latest technology to tell stories we hope will surprise and delight audiences around the world.”
What many may not know is that Pete Docter is also a Christian. In an interview he did with Radix Magazine early in his career at Pixar, he described how his faith interacts with his work as a storyteller.
Radix: How has having a child changed who you are as an artist?
Docter: Work-wise, I definitely see things differently. There are things I would find kind of quirky or weird, that might have a tinge of violence to it, but as a single guy, or even as a married guy, I’d think, “It’s funny.” But then when you have a kid, you think, “Oh, he’ll be watching this. I don’t know how I’d feel about that.” As a Christian, having my son has made me even more amazed by the whole Creation, when I watch him grow and start to connect things in his brain. I say, “That’s amazing.” It leaves me speechless.
Radix: How would you say that being a Christian affects how you do your work?
Docter: Years ago, when I first spoke at church, I was kind of nervous about talking about Christianity and my work. It didn’t really connect. But more and more it seems to be connecting for me. I ask for God’s help, and it’s definitely affected what I’m doing. It’s helped me to calm down and focus. There were times when I got too stressed out with what I was doing, and now I just step back and say, “God, help me through this.” It really helps you keep a perspective on things, not only in work, but in relationships.
At first you hire people based purely on their talent, but what it ends up is that people who really go far are good people. They’re good people to work with, and I think God really helps in those relationships.
Radix: I know you do a lot of praying, and that’s a big part of the artistic part of what you guys do.
Docter: Yes. You could probably work on a live-action movie that takes maybe six months hating everybody else and you’d still have a film. But, these animation projects take three or four years, and it’s really difficult to do without having a good relationship with the people you’re working with.
When asked if Docter would consider making a more explicitly Christian movie, Docter said he probably wouldn’t, preferring to tell stories that have more implicit messages than explicit. “To me art is about expressing something that can’t be said in literal term,” He said. “You can say it in words, but it’s always just beyond the reach of actual words, and you’re doing whatever you can to communicate a sense of something that is beyond you”.