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In Depth: Why These Female Pixar Characters Mean So Much To Me

30 Years of Pixar, A Bug's Life, Brad Bird, Brave, Brenda Chapman, Cars 3, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Pete Docter, Pixar Heroines, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2

Posted by Nia • October 20, 2017

It’s been over two weeks since the New York Times article on Harvey Weinstein was published and the dam finally burst in Hollywood. It seems almost unbearable to comprehend all the allegations that are still stacking up against Weinstein, not to mention the plethora of other men in the industry and beyond. The “me too” movement on social media has also shown a disturbing amount of women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by co-workers, friends, and family members.

This past week I’ve found it hard to focus and carry on with my life, job, and day-to-day activities.  It’s empowering seeing women come together, but also distressing to learn how it’s happened to us all, one way or another.

I needed inspiration and I needed something to lift my spirits up so I turned to what I know best to help me in troubled times: Pixar films.

Over the years not only has Pixar produced some of the greatest animated films of all time, but they’ve also created some of the strongest and most relatable female characters in the business. I was going to try and talk about all of them, but then realized how long the post would be (actually this would make a wonderful book some day). Instead, I decided to pick my three most important female characters and share why they mean so much to me both as a woman, and as a professional working in the animation industry.

Merida

Brave came out at a perfect time in my life, I was a sophomore in college and I was struggling with trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I was feeling the pressure of comparing myself to other people my age; be it with work, relationships, and even school.  I was even feeling pressure from certain family members about my love life and if I was going to be getting married anytime soon (this is a true story for any Greek woman).

Then Merida arrived, with her ridiculous hair goals, amazing horse-riding skills, and sassiness I wish I had when I was a teenager.

Merida broke the mold when it came to princesses – she had her own goals and her own motivations that she wanted to achieve in life, even if it went completely against what her family has wanted for generations. She didn’t care what her family thought and she was ready to fight against her mom if it meant being able to do what SHE wanted to do in life. Maybe she didn’t really have any dreams or goals at the moment, and that was OK – as long as she wasn’t stuck being a princess and fitting the mold, then she was content. That was Merida’s life, and she wanted to pursue those dreams of being free and exploring the countryside with her horse.

I also really appreciated how independent she was and how she didn’t need romance in her life to be successful. She was content with being alone, even if that meant being isolated from her own family or off in the forest basking in her solitude, that didn’t matter to her; she didn’t need a man in her life to tell her what to do or to be content.

I was the biggest tomboy growing up, I got dirty rolling around and play fighting and spent most afternoons playing sports with the other kids. But I still liked to dress up and get pretty; that didn’t mean I had to do it all the time. I really appreciated how Merida didn’t always need to be pretty or dainty or wear fancy dresses and spend her time curtsying to all the men; she wanted to roll around in the mud, dance in the rain, ride on horseback, climb mountains, and shoot arrows. I loved that adventurous side of her and I loved that she didn’t let anyone tame her.

I wish I had Merida to look up to when I was that young tomboy.

 Cruz Ramirez

It’s a shame Pixar wasn’t able to create a character like Cruz until now. She is one of the better things to come from this summer’s Cars 3 release and she might actually be one of my all-time favorite characters now.

Like Merida, I wish I had someone like Cruz to look up to when I was growing up and dreaming about coming to work in the animation industry in Los Angeles.

What I love the most about Cruz is that she showed me it doesn’t matter where you were born or who your family is, if you set your mind to what you want to achieve in life then you can fulfill your dreams.

People might keep telling you no, no, no; and you might continue to get rejection letter after rejection letter, but you have to keep going, to keep pushing forwards; hearing no or getting a rejection letter does not mean you’ve failed, but giving up does. It’s okay to have doubts, to feel bad about yourself, but you can still carry on and push forwards.

I also really loved the signal she sent to boys and girls alike, how it’s OK to be a girl and be really interested in boy things (like racing cars) or vice versa. In a typical male dominated world, it’s important to show young children that you can do whatever you want; it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl.

Cruz is the type of female character we need in film and TV now – a woman who stands up for herself, who goes against the norm, and who never gives up her dreams when obstacles are in the way.

Helen Parr AKA Elastigirl 

Helen is important to me, not only because I’ve always dreamed of being a superhero and kicking all sorts of butt, but because she’s a wonderful mother and person to look up to.

At the start of The Incredibles she’s living a pretty normal life, only having to deal with the typical mom duties that come with any parent. But soon it’s clear that Helen can balance both the mom and superhero life when she’s forced to follow and rescue her husband, Bob Parr AKA Mr. Incredible, when he’s off trying to deal with his midlife crisis.

It turns out that Helen actually saves her husband, brings her family closer together, and in turn, is a huge part in actually saving the world from the supervillain Syndrome. Where would we be without her? I’m really excited for The Incredibles 2 and having some more focus on Helen; which is a good sign that Pixar is definitely moving in the right direction regarding female characters.

One of my favorite things about Helen is that she doesn’t take crap from anyone, not her husband, children, or even Edna. She wasn’t about to sit around and wait for her husband to come home, making up different stories in her head as to why he’s been acting so strange lately. She was also not afraid to go against the societal norms at the time and take things into her own hands – she had every right to know what her husband was doing and to go and find him.

Helen is the type of woman and mom I aspire to be one day, with her, anything is possible. She gives me the confidence that I can balance both my work and home life completely if I chose to go down that path.  I work in the animation industry and have hopes of gaining as much experience as I can and moving on to different studios and jobs in the future. Thanks to Helen, I know that I don’t need to wait around for anyone to make the right decisions for me, and it’s possible to have a family and a career at the same time and be happy.

Each female Pixar character has taught me something different about myself throughout the years. What I love most about Pixar films, and the female characters they create, is that they provide a plethora of diverse characters from all ranges of life. Yes, fish and robots and superheroes are all incredibly different, but when you look at the stories that surround each character, and the struggles each woman (or ant) has to overcome, it’s all universal.

Who are some of your favorite Pixar female characters? And why are they so important to you?

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Pixar Launches New Experimental Shorts Department

30 Years of Pixar, Behind The Scenes, Luxo, Jr., Short Film, SIGGRAPH, Smash and Grab, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B

Posted by Nia • May 28, 2017

It was recently revealed that in August, Pixar will be hosting a panel at SIGGRAPH titled, “Smash and Grab: Off-The-Rails Filmmaking at Pixar.” The summary of the panel gave us some insight into what some of the talented folks have been up to in between projects at the studio:

“Pixar launched an internal, experimental storytelling initiative to create short films without executive oversight, to explore new creative visions and increase studio opportunities. This talk shares Pixar’s six-month journey of creating seven-minute shorts, with limited resources, amidst the backdrop of a busy studio, juggling multiple feature productions.”

Cartoon Brew reported the first film produced through this new division is aptly titled Smash and Grab, and will be directed by Brian Larsen. Larsen himself has plenty of experience at Pixar in the story trenches – serving as Story Supervisor on Brave and Head of Story on Piper, just to name a few.

Pixar’s first few short films, The Adventures of André and Wally B and Luxo JR., initially put the studio on the map and showcased what was to come with technology driving animation. The fact that the studio is continuing to push the boundaries of storytelling with their famed short films, and finding time to make new projects with an already grueling film schedule is quite impressive and inspiring.

We can’t wait to find out more about Smash and Grab, and their new shorts unit.

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New Disney/Pixar Gallery Nucleus Exhibition Opens in Los Angeles

30 Years of Pixar, A Bug's Life, Art, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Inside Out, John Lasseter, Monsters University, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, WALL-E

Posted by Nia • December 10, 2016

Have you ever wanted to see some of your favorite artwork from Pixar films in real life? Fear no more, as a new exhibition has just opened up at Gallery Nucleus in LA today. For the first time ever, the gallery will be showcasing brand new images from each of Pixar’s feature films. What makes it even more unique is that John Lasseter himself picked each design for the show. There will also be hand-signed limited edition prints for sale by each artist who worked on the pieces.

Thanks to Oh My Disney for providing the artwork that will be featured at the showcase.

By Bob Pauley

By Bob Pauley

 

By Tia Kratter

By Tia Kratter

 

By Randy Barret

By Randy Barret

 

By Pete Docter

By Pete Docter

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Teddy Newton

By Teddy Newton

 

By Bill Cone

By Bill Cone

 

By Dominique Louis

By Dominique Louis

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Lou Romano

By Lou Romano

 

By Robert Kondo

By Robert Kondo

 

By Harley Jessup

By Harley Jessup

 

By Steve Pilch

By Steve Pilch

 

By Rickey Nierva

By Rickey Nierva

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Sharon Calahan

By Sharon Calahan

 

By Daniel L Munoz

By Daniel L Munoz

 

Be sure to check out Galley Nucleus and celebrate the art of Pixar if you’re in town – it runs from today, December 10th to January 8th, 2017.

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Pixar President Jim Morris Gives Insight Into The Studio’s Creative Process

2D Animation, 30 Years of Pixar, Animation, Behind The Scenes, Ed Catmull, Interview, Jim Morris, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Nia • February 9, 2016

Courtesy of Time Out: Hong Kong and Disney/Pixar.

Jim Morris has been president of Pixar Animation Studios since 2005. He came to Pixar after working for a lengthy period at Lucas Digital. While at LucasFilm, he helped make a slew of films including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars; just to name a few. During a recent interview with Time Out: Hong Kong, Morris gave readers a little glimpse behind the scenes of Pixar and what it takes to create the animated films the studio is most famous for.

One of the main discussion points during the interview was the fact that Pixar, for the first time in the studio’s history, was able to release two feature length films in 2015. According to Morris, Pixar’s original plan was to have at least one original film every other year, followed by a sequel every other year.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge this year. We’re actually finishing films every eight months. We have enough production capability, but unfortunately that is not the issue! The issue is having the stories developed to the right point so we have enough content to make the films. That is the tricky part. It’s worked out fine so far. It does make a crunch with publicity; everyone gets spread a bit thin. But we’re feeling okay, we’re not at the point of regret, yet!”

The most important aspect behind every Pixar film is undoubtedly the story. Each Pixar film has been able to stand alone because of the unique characters that come along with the blend of animation and technology. In the scheme of storytelling at Pixar, the first step to launching a thousand feels is the emotional core behind each story.

“Usually the first thing that comes is an idea that engages the director. I would say there is some emotional core that motivates them to want to tell a story, and later we can infer a theme from that. Inside Out is an easy one to talk about – [director] Pete Docter was wondering why his daughter had changed. It started out as that core idea, but it evolved. It went through so many iterations. After we have that starting point, the characters get forged from that, and then more about the setting and the world gets forged from that.”

Storytelling aside, actually getting the film up on it’s feet after the initial concept is approved is tough enough. Most of the hours put into a film at Pixar exceed Walt Disney’s standards for his classic, 2-D animated films.

“Something most people don’t realize about our films actually is that, even though the computers are doing the animation, our average film takes 20,000 person-weeks to make. And that is probably a little bit more than most traditional, hand-drawn Disney films took. The amount of labour it takes to make a film like this is huge – the textures and scenes are painted by hand. Our joke used to be that we are where high-tech and low-life collide.”

There has been some criticism towards Pixar for it’s lack of women directors. Brenda Chapman has been the only female director to take the helm of a feature film for 2012’s Brave, but due to creative differences she was replaced by Mark Andrews halfway through production. Morris brought up that Pixar is indeed trying to fix this problem and make the company more diverse in regards to more opportunities for female storytellers.

“One thing we’re trying to do is to expand the roster of directors. We’re trying to build the next generation and make the company more diverse, to get a breadth of voices to tell a range of stories. We’re 37 percent female at the moment, and we’d like to be 50 percent. We don’t have a lot of turnover at Pixar though, which makes that somewhat challenging!”

Before concluding the interview, Morris was able to dish that there is some NEW original content in the works for a series of films on top of the already scheduled (and very anticipated) studio line-up.

“We have a bunch of confirmed titles. There’s Finding Dory later this year. We’re working on The Incredibles 2Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. Dan Scanlon, who did Monsters University is working on an original film. Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, is working on one, too. We have a new director called Brian Phee, who is working on a new movie, and we have a few shorts that are in the works. I can’t say much more than that or I’ll get in trouble!”

It’s certainly strange thinking that far into the future about films at Pixar, but exciting to know there is some awesome content brewing at the studio and a new director in the loop. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Jim Morris over at Time Out!

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Pixar’s 30th

30 Years of Pixar, Pixar

Posted by Simoa • February 3, 2016

On February 3, 1986, Pixar as we know it was born! Today marks 30 years of excellence.

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From humble beginnings as a computer graphics company, Pixar, nestled in Emeryville, California, is now a world renowned animation studio.

“The little studio that could” has been making huge leaps in both art and technology. It has blended math and science with the magic of storytelling. Through risk, innovation, and unparalleled imaginative flair, the films of Pixar have made a significant impact on pop culture. It has become synonymous with quality, timeless entertainment that everyone can fall in love with.

If you’d like to share what Pixar means to you, please email us at upcomingpixar [at] gmail.com.

Happy 30 years to Pixar, and here’s to 30 more!

 

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