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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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Toy Story 4 details surface

Jim Morris, Rumors, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • March 4, 2015

New details on Toy Story 4 have emerged. Since the project was announced last November, the reaction to it hasn’t been the most welcoming. Kyle recently shared an interview with Pixar’s president Jim Morris, and he had some interesting things to say about the 2017 feature. Bonnie 1

The interview appeared on Disney’s Latino News blog. What can be gathered from my translation is that this fourth film is not a continuation of the third one. If that’s the case, does this mean it’s not part of the trilogy at all? Is Toy Story 4 going to function as a separate film entirely? Is it, as Kyle also wrote, more in the vein of the shorts and specials?

Morris also mentioned that the film will be a romantic comedy. And that’s not all, the relationship the toys have with children and people will not be explored. Now this is interesting, because we would have to infer that Bonnie’s role won’t be expanded further, since that’s the only child Woody and the gang interact with. And if this is true, it’s pretty disappointing. We knew from the press release that Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever) were on hand for the script and that a love story would be the focus of the fourth film. We also know that Jones’ involvement is the strong female voice John Lasseter wanted in the writing.

As of now all we have is speculation, but this is certainly an intriguing set of developments! Toy Story 4 is set to be released in June of 2017, with Lasseter sitting in the director’s chair.

What do you think of these new Toy Story 4 details?

 

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Jim Morris Set to Give SIGGRAPH ’10 Keynote!

Jim Morris

Posted by Martin • May 25, 2010

Pixar’s General Manager, Jim Morris, will take on this year’s SIGGRAPH crowd as the convention’s keynote speaker, according to a recent press release!

"People Behind the Pixels" is the theme surrounding the upcoming visual effects gathering. Morris makes for a fitting speaker on this topic as he’s been an effective leader throughout his 23+ years in the industry!

Before joining the Lamp in 2005, the production exec held top positions at LucasFilm. He is currently well known to Pixar fans as Andrew Stanton’s right hand man, Producer on WALL-E. Stanton even has him back overseeing John Carter of Mars at Disney. All of this is made possible while managing Pixar’s ever expanding library of products — talk about a busy guy!

I’m curious to know what Jim Morris will cover as SIGGRAPH ’10 keynote speaker. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be "one of many can’t miss" moments as promised by Conference Chair Terrence Mason.

The 37th Annual SIGGRAPH convention will be held in Los Angeles starting July 25th and running through the 29th. Pixar has quite the history at this event, somewhat recently gaining infamy for handing out walking teapots.

Will you be attending SIGGRAPH this year?

(via Business Wire)

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The 81st Annual Academy Awards and Pixar [UPDATED LIVE]

Academy Awards, Andrew Stanton, Awards, Jim Morris, Pixar, Presto, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • February 22, 2009

Welcome, Pixar fans everywhere! Today is February 22nd, 2009, and you know what that means: it’s the long awaited Academy Awards, the biggest movie event of the year.

Let’s recap, Pixar was nominated 7 times this year, 6 for WALL•E and 1 for Presto! Here’s a list of the Pixar specific nominations.

The awards season culminates on this one event, and now it’s the moment of truth. Good luck Andrew Stanton and company!

Note: When Pixar wins an award, is mentioned or featured, it will be posted below in real time.

——-

Awards Count: 1

Winner: Here are the Pixar winners from tonight’s awards.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: WALL•E (Andrew Stanton)

Congratulations.

Passed: Only nominated.
Best Original Screenplay: WALL•E  (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter)
Best Animated Short Film: Presto (Doug Sweetland)
Best Sound Editing: WALL•E (Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood)
Best Sound Mixing: WALL•E (Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt)
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score): WALL•E (Thomas Newman)
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song): WALL•E (Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman)

Chatter: What’s happening on the red carpet and at the awards? All times are EST.
7:40Peter Gabriel, nominated for Best Song (Down to Earth) just showed up on the red carpet and talked to E!. This begs the question, since he isn’t performing, who is?
7:50– A quick shot of John Lasseter and co. on TV Guide, awaiting an interview…
8:00– Official red carpet coverage is now on LIVE on ABC.
8:25Michael Giacchino, composer of The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and of the 2009 Oscars, was featured in clips from an interview with designers and planners of the show.
8:30– Ceremony starts hosted by Hugh Jackman.
8:55– An excerpt of Andrew StantonJim Reardon and Pete Docter‘s screenplay for WALL•E was shown for original Screenplay, it was the lighter shot. Milk won.
9:00– An awesome montage featuring our favorite little robot chronicled the top animated movies today featuring Bolt, Kung Fu Panda, Horton Hears A Who, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Space Chimps and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
9:05
– In some funny news, Jack Black (presenter of Best Animated) told us how he makes money. He voices a role in a DreamWorks movie and bets all that money at the Oscars for a Pixar movie, the audience including Jeffrey Katzenberg laughed!
9:10WINNER! Although WALL•E threw away the Oscar over a video tape in the video, it was that film that took home the award. Andrew Stanton got up and accepted thanking Jim Morris, Lindsey Collins, John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs among others.
9:25- A montage of romance in movies of 2008 featured WALL•E prominently with 4 clips chronicling WALL•E and EVE‘s love story! "Evah", "Waaaaall-e"
9:40– Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull was featured in the Sci-Tech Awards recap. Jessica Biel called it like it is, Catmull is the god of CGI! The camera focused in on him hearing the praise two times. He really deserves the nod considering he pioneered CGI, and where we would we be if he hadn’t?
10:30WALL•E clips are shown during the Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing nomination roll call. The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire win respectively. I don’t get it, WALL•E was supported by sound, but oh well…
10:40Define Dancing played on top of the montage for legendary actor Jerry Lewis.
10:50– Composer and Pixar regular, Michael Giacchino directed tracks from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, Milk, Slumdog Millinaire and WALL•E. Specifically WALL•E’s Define Dancing. A.R. Rahman won for Slumdog.
11:00John Legend takes the stage with the Soweto Gospel Choir in place of Peter Gabriel to sing Down to Earth among A.R. Rahman in a medley of Slumdog Millionaire and WALL•E songs. Jai Ho from Slumdog won. On a better note, John Legend did a pretty great job on Down to Earth.
That’s it for the Pixar awards. The Best Picture award winner is Slumdog Millionaire!
But there’s more Pixar at the Oscars…
11:55– They played a short clip of Up during the credits (where Pixar was mentioned numerous times) in a montage of upcoming 2009 films.
12:00– In the final disclaimer, they played a track from Ratatouille, End Creditouilles by Michael Giacchino.
The end– Pixar was VERY well represented this year!

My thoughts: Congratulations to all the winners, especially Andrew Stanton on his second Academy Award and this extremely successful awards season!! Also, I wish to congratulate all of the Pixar nominees: for WALL•E Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter, Ben Burtt, Tom Myers, Mathew Wood, Michael Semanick, composer Thomas Newman, singer/songwriter Peter Gabriel, for Presto Doug Sweetland, and of course everyone who made these films possible! Congratulate the winners and let us know how you feel in the comments section below.

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Don’t forget: It was announced that during the Oscars telecast a trailer for Pixar’s next movie Up will run, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Details here.
Sounds like Disney decided to play a trailer for the Touchstone film The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock. It’s quite disappointing that they changed their mind about an Up trailer, unless it was misreported, at least they played a short clip from the movie during the end credits of the awards show.

Where to watch on TV: The 81st Annual Academy Awards will play today (2/22/09) on ABC, live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, starting at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST.
For international viewers, please check your local listings.

Keep it here for chatter about red carpet appearances as well as my opinion on Pixar and other awards!
Readers, feel free to comment on anything interesting going on during the telecast or to predict and congratulate the winners!

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Lasseter and Co. Awarded Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival (Plus More Awards)

Andrew Stanton, Awards, Brad Bird, Jim Morris, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Pete Docter, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • January 26, 2009

The Venice Film Festival‘s Golden Lion Award will be given to Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios chief-creative officer John Lasseter.

He will be accompanied by Pixar directors Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird and Lee Unkrich. The award is given to those who have contributed largely to cinema, as these men have. For example, this prize was previously given to Lasseter’s good friend and world renouned animation guru, Hayao Miyazaki. The festival runs from September 2-12 of this year but no date has been specified for John Lasseter and company’s ceremony. From Variety.

And: Jim Morris has won the "Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures" at the Producer’s Guild Awards for his amazing work on WALL•E. This is just another one of of WALL•E’s amazing achievements as of late and it just keeps getting better. See the rest of the winners here.

Also: Animated News named WALL•E the best movie of the year (out of all animation) and also ranked WALL•E (along with Kung Fu Panda) as the third best DVD this year. This is all part of A-N’s Best of 2008 list.

Congratulations to everyone at Pixar!

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Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins Talk All Things Pixar

Blu-Ray, Jim Morris, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, UP, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • January 13, 2009

Collider.com brings us an in-depth video interview with WALL•E producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins. They talk about everything from possible sequels to re-releases of Pixar’s masterpieces on Blu-ray.

Highlights include reactions (very positive ones) on WALL•E’s recent awards and Pete Docter’s next film Up. Also Jim and Lindsey touch upon Pixar’s 3D movies and what makes the Pixar 3D experience superior. They also confirm that Pixar plans to release all Pixar films on Blu-ray, yes, even Finding Nemo, eventually.

This is a must watch interview for any Pixar fan!

(Thanks Coming Soon for the heads up/Thanks Collider for sharing the vid.)

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Jim Morris Nominated for Producer’s Guild Award [WALL•E Awards UPDATE]

Jim Morris, WALL-E

Posted by Upcoming Pixar • January 7, 2009

Briefly: Pixar General Manager and WALL•E producer Jim Morris recieved a nomination from the PGA for Producer of the Year in an Animated Theatrical Film. This would be Pixar’s third time being nominated in the category, let’s hope Pixar wins for the third consecutive time (previously they took home the award for Cars and Ratatouille). WALL•E is up against Bolt and Kung Fu Panda this year.

(via TPB)
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And in related news…
WALL•E won the People’s Choice Award for Best Family Film.
Congratulations, Pixar!

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Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Re-Rendered

Jim Morris, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • September 29, 2008

Collider.com sat down with WALLE producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins to talk about the DVD and future Pixar projects. The WALL•E details are being saved for November, but some interesting information was disclosed on the Toy Story franchise.

As most of us know, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be re-released in stereoscopic 3D on October 2nd, 2009, and on February 12th, 2010, respectively. What many of you may have been asking is, will Pixar be adding in anything to Toy Story and its sequel for the theatrical re-release, Jim Morris says, "Not a thing. We’re not changing a thing in the movies." He does add that the film will look even more stunning because it is being re-rendered to today’s standards and will be released exclusively in 3D to get audiences ready for Toy Story 3. Speaking of TS3, it will have a standard and 3D release, but for those of you who were hoping to see these films on an IMAX screen unfortunately Morris had this to say, "Well, we’ve always talked about doing IMAX stuff and never had it come quite to fruition. We haven’t found the right thing."

Be sure to read the full article (including an interesting interview) and look forward to Collider’s report on their visit to the Emeryville campus and the WALL•E DVD/Blu-ray news.

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Stanton, Morris talk JCoM

Andrew Stanton, Jim Morris, John Carter of Mars

Posted by Martin • September 26, 2008

Briefly: Yesterday in a meeting at Pixar Animation Studios, Andrew Stanton and Jim Morris shared some vague details about John Carter of Mars, some previously revealed.

Andrew Stanton shared that he was going for a new look on JCoM, something the previous incarnations didn’t have in terms of overall look. When asked if the movie would be in 3D, Pixar general manager Jim Morris exclaimed, "I hope not!". Previously known facts were talked about briefly such as Mark Andrew’s involvement with the writing of the film. Still no word on the look of the film, rumors point to a hybrid live-action/animated movie, and no word if it’ll be fully produced at Pixar, or when it’ll be released.

To read the full article head on over to Animation World News.

(via Animated News/The Pixar Blog)

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Jim Morris Named Pixar General Manager

Jim Morris

Posted by Martin • September 10, 2008

Ed Catmull announced in a press release today that Jim Morris is Pixar‘s General Manager, a newly created position. 

Morris’ title appreciates what he’s been doing for the past few years, overseeing every aspect of Pixar production, from features to shorts, to DVD’s to theme park attractions. The WALL•E producer joined Pixar in 2005 but has had 13 years of experience as (former) president of Lucasfilm and manager of it’s two main divisions, ILM and Skywlaker Sound.

Catmull also named Andrew Millstein Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new general manager, he’s been with Disney for 11 years.

Catmull commented: "Jim and Andrew are two of the most talented, capable, and experienced production executives working in animation today, and we’re fortunate to have them running the day-to-day operations of our two animation studios." Both Millstein and Morris report to Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ prez, Ed Catmull.

(via PR Newswire)

Congratulations and good luck to both of you, Mr. Morris and Mr. Millstein!

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