Sunday, January 06, 2008

The story behind "The Pixar Story"

Leslie Iwerks created a documentary called, "The Pixar Story."

Does her name sound familiar? It should!


"if it hadn't been for Roy's help ... Well, Leslie's first film, "The Hand Behind the Mouse - The Ub Iwerks Story" (Which -- FYI -- is now available on DVD. This award-winning documentary is one of the extra features offered on "The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit." This new 2-disc "Walt Disney Treasures" hits store shelves today) probably never would have been made.

"To explain: Ms. Iwerks is the granddaughter of this animation pioneer... Lucky for Leslie, Roy was quick to throw his support behind this proposed documentary. He not only convinced Michael Eisner that the Walt Disney Company should fund this production, Roy even arranged for Leslie to have access to the studio's Animation Research Library. Where she was then able to get her hands on the original drawings that her grandfather had done for such landmark shorts like "Steamboat Willie" and "The Skeleton Dance."

Ub in action:

"Right after that screening [Man Behind the Mouse], I was sitting down to lunch with Lasseter and Ed Catmull when John asked me if I'd be interested in interviewing some of the folks at Pixar," Leslie remembered. "I think that his initial goal was that Pixar would then have something for its archives that would capture that particular moment in time. But after I did all of those interviews and started to cut them together, I realized that I had a film here."

"When you get right down to it, this is really a story about people who were trying to do something impossible. Ed Catmull dreamed of someday producing the first computer animated feature. And thanks to John Lasseter's talent and Steve Jobs' financial support, Ed's dream was finally able to come true," Ms. Iwerks said. "But before that could happen, there were years of struggle."

"And that's what "The Pixar Story" does best. It documents who Lasseter, Catmull & Jobs got the company through those years of struggle. How John's gift for story and character made the early Pixar shorts & features really shine. How Ed's insistance that "We always hire people who are smarter than us" gave Pixar the talent that they needed to keep things moving forward. And how Steve's patience (more importantly, the continual pressure that he put on Lasseter & Catmull to succeed) eventually paid off.

"Of course, what's kind of ironic about this screening being held in the holiday season is ... Well, if John Lasseter hadn't suggested that Pixar should pitch Disney on the idea of making this 30-minute-long CG holiday special (Which was to have been called "A Tin Toy Christmas" and starred the title character of that animation studio's 1988 Academy Award-winning short, "Tin Toy") ... Well, there probably wouldn't then have been a "Toy Story.""

Enjoy! We're also putting this in "Movie Watchers" since "The Pixar Story" is a movie that's coming out.


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