The recent announcement of SparkShorts, the “Experimental Storytelling Initiative” within Pixar, deserves to receive a lot of praise — with its fresh perspective of storytelling set within the famed studio, this is a bold mark within the studio that shows the company is not standing still. “We created an opportunity for artists to show us some new ideas by doing a low-budget project of their own,” stated Pixar Animation Studios President, Jim Morris.
The program currently lists six films (as shown below), however, this list could grow quickly as the filmmakers are given a small, six-month time frame and a small budget to create their own personal film. Kristen Lester, writer/director of Purl had the best definition of the program, noting, “SparkShorts is Indie filmmaking inside of Pixar”.
VP of Development and New Media, Lindsey Collins noted that the program allows for the studio to start thinking about the future storytellers, directors, and producers. “Who are they? and how do we get a sense of who they are right now?”, shared Collins. The program continues to explore and find new and emerging directorial and producing talent from all departments within the studio (story, animation, etc.). Edwin Chang, writer/director of Wind, noted that SparkShorts brings together “people with very different backgrounds, both culturally, ethnically and also careerwise”.
You can read about the announcement of the SparkShorts program in our post from last week, but now let’s dive into more details about the six projects announced so far.
Directed by Kristen Lester, produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan and lighting DP Farhez Rayani.
Synopsis — An earnest ball of yarn named Purl gets a job at a fast-paced, high-energy, male-centric start-up. Things start to unravel as she tries to fit in with this close-knit group. Purl must ask herself how far is she willing to go to get the acceptance she yearns for and in the end is it worth it? You can read even more about Purl in our earlier post here.
SMASH AND GRAB
Directed by Brian Larsen, produced by David Lally and lighting DP Farhez Rayani.
Synopsis — After years of toiling away inside the engine room of a towering locomotive, two antiquated robots will risk everything for freedom and for each other. Read even more about Smash and Grab in our earlier post here.
Directed by Rosana Sullivan and produced by Kathryn Hendrickson.
Synopsis — An unlikely connection sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.
Directed by Bobby Rubio and produced by Krissy Cababa.
Synopsis — A father discovers that his son floats, which makes him different from other kids. To keep them both safe from the judgment of the world, Dad hides, covers, and grounds him. But when his son’s ability becomes public, Dad must decide whether to run and hide or to accept his son as he is.
Directed by Erica Milsom and produced by Krissy Cababa and Michael Warch, along with supervising TD and lighting DP Danielle Feinberg.
Synopsis —A non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world.
Directed by Edwin Chang and produced by Jesus Martinez.
Synopsis — Wind is a magical realism story about a Grandma and a Grandson trapped in a massive, never-ending sink-hole, living on a large boulder suspended by strong winds. Together they scavenge falling debris to build an escape, hoping to find a better life in the outside world.
HOW TO WATCH
On Pixar’s Twitter, it was noted that the first three films (Smash & Grab, Purl, and Kitbull) would be shown at the famed, El Capitan Theater on January 18, 2019 — followed by a release on YouTube and Disney+ when it launches later in 2019. We cannot wait.
YouTube Release Dates:
- February 4, 2019 — Purl on YouTube
- February 11, 2019 — Smash & Grab on YouTube and YouTube Kids
- February 18, 2019 — Kitbull on YouTube and YouTube Kids
Pixar Post — Julie