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10 Things We’ve Learned About Lou That Proves It’s One Of The Most Charming Pixar Shorts

Cars 3, Dana Murray, Dave Mullins, Interview, Lou, Premiere, Press Conference, Shorts

Posted by Nia • June 14, 2017

At the Cars 3 press junket on Saturday, we got to learn loads of new information about Lou, the short that will be playing in front of the film this Friday. During the making of presentation, director Dave Mullins and producer Dana Murray gave us some wonderful behind the scenes information about how the short was slowly pieced together.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  1. Under the guidance of story guru and overall legend, John Lasseter, Mullins incorporated some must-needed rules for every Pixar film. “Pixar films have very specific ingredients. They have heart, meaning your character is flawed in some way and experiences personal growth over the course of the film. Entertainment, which means the story has to be unpredictable and funny. There’s a setting, which needs to take the viewers to a place they’ve never been before, is exciting, and new. And finally, the animation, and this means the film can only be done with animation and need the medium’s full attention.”
  2. Lou is Mullins’ directorial debut and he’s spent 4 years working on it. He’s even been pitching short film ideas since 2005, but Lou was the first one given the green light from the studio. Mullins is passionate about telling good stories and he started searching for ideas that would stick. He wanted something full of heart. And he turned to the inspiration that came from his childhood, such as moving around a lot due to his father’s job, and leaving behind friends in every city – at time, he said, he almost felt invisible.
  3. “When you bring an inanimate object to life, you have to think about it’s intended purpose in the world.” The lost and found box was initially a bully, stealing the children’s toys in the playground and then eventually learning his mistakes and returning them at the end of the film – but that didn’t work because there was nothing to love about him. At one point during the conception of Lou, the character itself was actually a little boy with all of these toys attached to him. Instead, Mullins went back to the core of what the character was: a lost and found box. It was meant to find and return lost toys to children, so that itself sparked an idea that Lou himself would be the hero/protector of the playground.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  4. Mullins’ wife, Lisa, who’s a stop motion animator, helped him pitch the film to John Lasseter and Pete Docter by creating a real life maquette of Lou. The model showed how the character would be incorporating objects in to his design and how he would be bringing this character to life by forming him with toys. The overall design of Lou changed throughout the course of the film as they tried to figure out the easiest ways to animate him, but in the end they went back to simple design that Lisa created for the pitch (which in turn, you will see in the finished short).
  5. Dana Murray jumped from Inside Out to help Mullins as producer on Lou. Her biggest job, besides scheduling and budgeting, was partnering with Dave and forming a deep friendship with him so that she ensured he wanted to tell the story he set out to create. During story development they had the obvious challenges like how they’re going to dramatize Lou when he’s built with all of these random toys, and second, how are they going to populate a playground when this is just a short film. If you look closely at the children in the short and even the bully, J.J., you’ll be able to find re-use designs from Finding Dory and Inside Out.
  6. Even though the story was locked down, they had their hero, Lou, and the playground bully, J.J., there were still issues in figuring out how to depict J.J. and how they’re going to get to the heart of Mullins story. “For J.J. we tried a cross between Scott Farkus from A Christmas Story and John Conner’s friend from Terminator 2. But these kids just seemed way too tough for what we needed for our story. So we looked at Jonah Bobo from Crazy Stupid Love. And even though he has this tough look, he’s also really vulnerable at the same time. This is really the look we needed for that character: someone who is tough as nails, but also full of heart.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  7. “What pitches well, doesn’t necessarily play well on screen. This happens every time you go into a new department and without fail, when your story is taken through the different departments, it’s just another moment to remake your film. And at Pixar, you’re never really done working on story.” Mullins and Murray had to completely change Lou‘s story several times throughout the course of the film as they got notes from Lasseter and Docter, and when they took their production to the next stage of development. The Lou at the start of this production, when it was initially pitched, is something completely different to what’s on screen.
  8. With every Pixar film, they always have to try and raise the stakes regarding animation and technology. With Lou‘s case it was actually animating this complex character and making it look as believable as possible. “The simplest solution to animating Lou was that every piece of him needed to be animated by hand… everything was animated like how a stop motion animator would do it. To this day, I still have animators cursing my name. But despite all that, we at Pixar love these challenges and the animators really dug into Lou. They were up for the task.” In regards to Mullins using simulations in Lou, Mullins and his crew used cloth simulation on Lou’s red sweatshirt as well as many other elements depicted throughout the film.
  9. “When we animated J.J.’s entrance, it was a great intro but we had some problems with it. The first one was that J.J. wasn’t really that entertaining, he’s just kind of mean for no reason and because of that, it was getting in the way of the ending. We really had to re-think that character again. So the question was, how do you make a bully funny? How do you end of caring for him? And this got me thinking about what motivates bullies. A bully usually acts one way because they want one thing: attention. So, J.J. became a kid who constantly disrupted other kids to get attention, making him an outsider. When Lou forces him to act with compassion, this changes how the other kids see him and he finally gets the thing that he really wants, which is acceptance.” This subtle change had an enormous impact on the film and showed the right character growth that was needed for both J.J. and Lou.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  10. Finally, Mullins chose Frozen composer Christophe Beck to helm the score for Lou. “He has this quirky sensibility about his music that we knew would fit the film really well. So we worked on that theme, and it was really important, because I wanted something that you could hum, something that would fit for the bully and Lou. Once we had that, Chris came up with this idea, which was, recording all the percussion parts separately in a round. So each note was played one at a time, and would go in a circle, to create this sort of mechanical tune.”

It’s safe to say that Lou is now one of our favorite Pixar shorts and we’re so excited for you to experience it on the big screen this Friday, June 16th.

Stay-tuned for coverage on the actual Cars 3 press event and reviews of the films.

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Pixar at the Venice Intl. Film Festival!

Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Pete Docter, Premiere, Toy Story, Toy Story 2

Posted by Martin • September 6, 2009

The much talked about Golden Lion Awards for Lifetime Achievement were presented to five key Pixarians today at the 66th Annual Venice International Film Festival

Specifically, it’s the gang of Pixar directors; John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird and Lee Unkrich! @DisneyPixar tweeted live at the event posting pictures and quotes from the honorees.

"Our goal has always been simple: to entertain our audience around the world." said Lasseter. That’s something the studio has surely achieved so it’s no surprise that the talented team was chosen to receive this "tremendous honor." After all, the award is presented to those who have contributed largely to cinema.

The group of highly acclaimed filmmakers were greeted by reporters and fans as the stepped onto the Pixar-themed red carpet. First arrived Pete Docter, then Brad Bird, followed by Lee Unkrich and Andrew Stanton. Last but not least was the studio’s Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter. I guess this is what it would be like to see the most famous faces of Pixar all in one place!

Special presenter George Lucas was full of praise, "I think Walt would be very proud that these are the guys carrying on the family business." Considering he sold Pixar over 20 years ago and saw it become the success that it is today, Lucas is a good sport.

Also of note, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D premiered at the festival! I’m sure the double feature screening went very well. The re-release will be playing in US theatres (for two weeks only) in about 25 days, October 2nd to be exact. You can swing on over to (edited for relevancy) Disney Living’s YouTube for the third in the series of John Lasseter Toy Story Collection blogs, this time featuring the "ferocious" dinosaur Rex!

To learn more about the Venice International Film Festival, drop by their official site. Browse through more pictures and quotes from the Pixar festivities at Disney/Pixar’s official Twitter. Stitch Kingdom also has a great photo gallery up. For more media coverage, read The Associated Press’ write-up.

A huge congratulations to the Pixar team on this monumental win!

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On The Green Carpet: Up Hollywood Premiere

Premiere, UP

Posted by Martin • May 16, 2009

The Up Hollywood Premiere was held earlier today at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Up "insider" on Twitter, @gossUP_girl tweeted through the whole experience. We’ve compiled a guided tour of the festivities based on these updates; please click on the links to view relevant pictures.

First and foremost, Hollywood Boulevard had to be cleared for decorations (such as this "foating" Up house) and the green carpet! Yes… green!! Before the screening jugglers, stilt walkers, and other performers were seen doing their thing among Carl, Russell and Dug, even the Aflac/Up NASCAR was there! 

Don’t forget the VIPs and stars! Guests at the event included the marvelous crew of Up (seen here crossing the street to get to the premiere) including Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Jonas Rivera, Michael Giacchino and John Lasseter! The group was presented with this awesome Up house made of chocolate! More Pixarians were there, but unfortunately no pictures of them are available at the moment.

The cast of Up talked to the press and were happy to be attending. Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Delroy Lindo, Elie & Pete Docter and the rest of the voice talent were happy to celebrate the occasion. Of course, Pixar’s good luck charm, John Ratzenberger, was there too! Other special guests included Jeff Garlin, Patton Oswalt, Jon Voight, Justin Chambers, Melissa Joan Hart, Blink 182, Barbara Eden, Tia Carrere, Mimi Rogers and Eve Plumb among others.

It seems the premiere was a huge success! Look out for possible extended coverage in the next few days.

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Up Premiere at Cannes Coverage [UPDATED]

Premiere, UP

Posted by Martin • May 13, 2009

Up opened the Cannes Film Festival today making it the first animated and first 3D movie to open the prestigious event. We’ll be bringing you coverage of the event, onsidered the official premiere, right here thorughout the day:

Press Conference: After the opening screening of Up, director Pete Docter, co-director Bob Peterson, producer Jonas Rivera and executive producer John Lasseter gathered for a press conference. There was a large range of questions asked such as what people inspired Carl and the rest of the cast’s design, struggles working on the film, political messages and much, much more. Critics and reporters from around the world also gave a good share of praise to Pixar’s next installment. Watch the 40 minute discussion on Up streamed here, but be warned, the reporters slipped some spoilers here and there.

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Tweet UP: Follow the Up team on their Cannes experience through @UP_dates on Twitter! They are tweeting live right now from France with pictures of the press conferences, parties and other goings on at the event. Some highlights for you to check out right now include the illustration of Carl that Pete Docter drew for fans and this tease of the photoshoot featuring tons of balloons. The Twitter account is expected to let us know about other events in Pete Docter and co.‘s own journey promoting Pixar’s 10th feature, follow them now, and don’t miss a thing!

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Pixar on the Red Carpet: The director of Up, Pete Docter, definitely didn’t go to Cannes alone. His whole Pixar posse came along: John and Nancy Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Bob Peterson and his wife, Pixar co-founder/president Ed Catmull and more. Check out this mini slideshow from Cannes featuring a picture from the photoshoot next to the Up display and shots from the red carpet. Click to view larger, pictures courtesy of Getty Images.

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To finish UP the Up coverage for today, I’d like to say that reports point to a great reaction to Up. The first animated picture to open Cannes was a success. Congratulations Pete Docter and co. on delivering another winner!

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Up Opening the Cannes Film Festival!

John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Premiere, UP

Posted by Martin • March 19, 2009

This year marks the first time ever that an animated film has opened the Cannes International Film Festival, and that movie will be Pixar’s next offering, Up!

The highly anticipated film will premiere on May 13th and play in 3D in the opening ceremony. It is not known yet if Up will be… up for competition at the festival. Let’s hope for the best. After all, it isn’t just the first animated film to open the festival, it’s also the first Disney movie and 3D movie to do so! 

Here’s what Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter had to say about this exciting announcement:
“We are absolutely thrilled that the Cannes Film Festival has chosen ‘UP’ to be its prestigious opening night offering. This is a huge step for animation, and further supports our belief that a great animated film is simply a great film. Pete Docter, the director of ‘UP,’ and the amazing team of artists, animators, technicians, and storytellers at Pixar have worked so hard to create a great motion picture that is impressively fresh, funny, and powerfully emotional.”

This year the Festival de Cannes (Cannes Film Festival) runs from May 13th all the way to the 24th of that month.

We congratulate Pete Docter and his Pixar team for this very special honor!

(via BBC/Official Press Release/SlashFilm)

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WALL•E Premiere in Germany

Premiere, WALL-E

Posted by Upcoming Pixar • September 22, 2008

WiesnJust wanted to remind our German readers that WALL•E will start this week on the 25th. Disney Germany is already running lots of ads on television and there are a lot of billboards exclusive to Germany. One of my favorites is the Oktoberfest one here in Munich which you can look at here.

I’m also posting pictures and links to the premiere video which was held in Berlin last week.
There is also a great WALL•E personality test (German Only) which you can take, to find out which WALL•E character you are the closest too. 
So I hope that everyone in Germany enjoys this great movie. please let us know what you think on our forum here.

(German synopsisWas wäre, wenn die Menschheit die verschmutzte Erde verlässt und vergisst, den letzten Roboter auszuschalten?  Das ist die einzigartige Geschichte der neuen intergalaktischen Animationskomödie von Disney und Pixar. Ein kleiner Roboter namens WALL•E kämpft sich tapfer durch die Müllberge, sammelt, sortiert, säubert, räumt auf… Doch nach all den Jahren alleine auf dieser Welt hat der liebenswerte Kerl einen winzig kleinen Defekt entwickelt: eine Persönlichkeit. WALL•E interessiert sich einfach für alles, ist überaus neugierig, und auch ein kleines bisschen einsam. Bis eines Tages die coole Roboterdame Eve auf der Erde landet und das Leben von WALL•E auf den Kopf stellt. Und ehe er sich  versieht, liegt die Zukunft der Erde und das Schicksal der Menschen in WALL•E´s Metall-Armen…

I personally would like to thank all the people at Disney Germany, Way to Blue and Black Rabbit presse service for all the information to WALL•E German premiere!

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Bonnie Hunt’s Friends at Pixar Make Opening Titles!

Premiere

Posted by Martin • September 8, 2008

Bonnie Hunt, voice of Sally Carrera in Cars, Flint in Monsters, Inc. and Rosie in A Bug’s Life; premiered her new talk show today.

Highlights include appearances by Robin Williams, singer Meiko and a mention of our favorite animation studio. Yes, Pixar did do the opening titles for The Bonnie Hunt Show. They were inspired by her niece’s drawings, and brought to life by Bonnie’s friends at Pixar Animation Studios!

Great personality, great set, great show!

Watch a clip of the show here.
Check your local listing to watch the daily talk show here.

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The Girl Who Cried WALL•E

Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, Pixar, Premiere, Trailer, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • July 2, 2008

Some of you may have heard the story about a girl named Courtney, who cried at the WALL•E teaser trailer, and posted it on YouTube and her blog for the world to see. Well this was only the beginning of a heart warming tale of generosity and kindness from the folks at Pixar. 

So the story goes, after posting the video, folks at Pixar started to get a hold of it emails started coming in telling her how much they appreciated it. Only then for a producer at Pixar to send an email telling her they had a Christmas present for her; a crew jacket and a nice note. 
What a display of kindness! But now for the cherry on the cake. Last month, she got more emails from the folks at Pixar, including the producers, inviting her to attend the Pixar premiere of WALL•E. They flew Courtney and her boyfriend out to SF, put them up in a hotel. At the screening, Andrew Stanton said the following,

"Six months ago, when the first trailer for Wall-E came out, we were only halfway done with the film, and we weren’t exactly sure how we were going to get it done. We were exhausted. And then, one day, a movie showed up on YouTube showing a girl watching the trailer for Wall-E. And every time she watched it, she would cry on cue. When we saw that, we knew we were on the right track."

She was even teased by Brad Bird. The next day she got a tour of Pixar. 

This truly is a heart warming display of affection and kindness from Pixar to a girl who inspired them and reassured them that their movie was going to be good. Read the full account here.

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WALL•E’s Coming Out Party

Premiere, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • June 24, 2008

The above video is WALL•E at the World Premiere on June 21.

Video Courtesy of o-meon

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Entertainment Tonight At The WALL•E Premiere

Premiere, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • June 23, 2008

Click the image to the right to watch a video from Entertainment Tonight at the WALL•E premiere.

[via The Pixar Blog]

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