Friday, July 26, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #8: Dan the Pixar Fan

First of all, apologies for not being able to bring you The Luxo Limelight last week. But never mind what happened last week, because today, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the one and only Dan the Pixar Fan. Currently residing in Rexburg, Idaho in the USA for college, he is originally from Stratford, Connecticut and enjoys collecting all sorts of Pixar-related trinkets and knick-knacks. He and Pixar go way back, so learn all about that in this week's interview!


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
 Boy is this a tough one! When it comes down to it though, I have to say Toy Story…can I count the trilogy as one? :) Toy Story started it all and started my love for Pixar. I was 5 years old and it completely captivated me. I can’t say I remember actually seeing it at the theater, but I can say I remember very anxiously waiting for it to come out on VHS. A story I can vividly remember is while I was waiting for it to come out on video (it took a LOT longer then), I would sneak down to the computer at night and my mom would find me playing the “Toy Story Animated Storybook” game. It was my way of getting some of the Toy Story magic and visit the characters while I waited to see it again. As you can tell, Toy Story impacted my life - as it did the world - and has a special place in my heart.
Again, to choose a favorite short film is difficult but I’ll go with the first one that came to my mind…Partly Cloudy. The story is just so cute and original and I love the tone, design and music. It has that Pixar magic and charm that made me love the studio in the first place and was an instant classic/stand out for me.
Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
Hmmmm… well what I love about the all the characters that Pixar creates is that they are all imperfect. They make mistakes but they always have the courage to grow and fix those mistakes, which make them so lovable. It’s amazing how they can take mostly non-human characters and give them such human flaws, emotions, dreams and dilemmas that we can all relate to. There are too many great ones for me to narrow it down, but if I had to pick my favorite and most relatable currently it would have to be Mike Wazowski. He was always one of my favorites since Monsters, Inc., but his story in MU impacted me even more, as it’s very similar to where I’m at in my life right now.
Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Again, they are all so great. None of them have disappointed me. They have all brought something so special and unique to the Pixar table and all have a ton of heart (which you can see/feel in all of their films). That being said, I’ll have to choose John Lasseter as my Pixarian favorite. Without him, there would be no Pixar-or at least not as we know it. Even though he had a rough start with his career, he did not give up. He didn’t let anyone get in the way of his dream. He’s passionate, innovative and I’ve always admired his enthusiasm and positive attitude. Being the director of Toy Story, he really set the tone, heart and humor that we still find in Pixar films today (I have to stop and give credit to all the Pixarians again though as these films are such a collaborative effort when it comes to the heart, story, screenplay, emotion, etc…). There are many other reasons why John Lasseter stands out to me as a favorite (like his love of toy collecting like me) but I’ll just leave it at that!
How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
I touched on this a little in the first question but I’ll expand a little bit. Again, I was 5 when Toy Story came out and was such a little fan. I had Toy Story bed sheets, collected the toys, played the soundtrack (on tape) over and over, put the green army men in my Christmas tree/reenacted other scenes from the movie, made my own box buildings (like the ones you see in Andy’s room) and was Buzz Lightyear for Halloween the following year. I really don’t know why I loved it so much (as I was too little to really understand the tremendous quality of it - or maybe I did) but I think it just really captured my imagination and I loved the characters. Everything thing about it captivated me. It’s interesting to look back almost 20 years ago and try to get inside my little 5-year-old mind to figure out what stood out so much to me. All in all, it did stand out to me and I anticipated the release of the studio's next film, A Bug’s Life with much excitement. As the years went on and other computer animated films from other companies started trickling out, even as a little kid, I knew the big difference between a Pixar film and, say, a DreamWorks animated film. Now there are SO many CGI films, that many young kids (and even sometimes some adults!) probably don’t even know how or care to distinguish a Pixar film from any other company…I always knew the difference, always trusted the Pixar name and always will.
Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I’m REALLY looking forward to The Good Dinosaur! It feels like a perfect/natural addition to the Pixar lineup. So far they have touched on all the classic things that all young kids seem to love at some point (toys, bugs, monsters, super heroes, cars, space, etc…) and dinosaurs fit right in there! I know I went through a dinosaur phase and I know this film will capture my inner child once again. The images and story points released so far are fantastic and the design of the little boy (well from what I've seen so far) remind me of me when I was little. :) You put a little boy and a dinosaur together and you know it will be a touching story…and the fact that Bob Peterson is directing (co-director of Up, a writer on so many favorites and the voice of some of the most memorable and funny characters in Pixar’s history…seriously this guy is going to nail it) and Peter Sohn (director of Partly Cloudy - again, my favorite short film - and also the voice of many memorable characters and a great story artist) co-directing just solidifies it for me. It’s gonna be great!
Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there?
You got it right…just a dream! I've woken up from a few dreams where I was working at Pixar actually. :) Working there would be incredible but I’m not going into animation. I really wish I had that talent though!
How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
Most of my family understands why Pixar is the best out there but some of my siblings don’t really see a difference between Pixar films and other animated movies. It’s more like if their kids like a movie than that’s good enough for them. My mom has always understood my love for Pixar films and I think completely knows the difference. My dad likes just about any animated movie that comes out and thinks they’re all hilarious (whether from Pixar or not) but I think he still knows that Pixar puts out the best quality and (thanks to me) he always knows about/anticipates the yearly release. Luckily, I married someone who completely understands Pixar and is so supportive about it! My wife Brita loves Pixar a lot, loves learning more about the films from me and understands that the Pixar quality always comes through.
Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Yet another classic!!
Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
Oh many times! That’s one of my favorite things about these films is that there is always a lesson to be learned…and it never feels cliché. After each film, I always like to look deeper and find the important themes and messages. Since it’s the most fresh in my mind, I’ll choose the message in Monsters University as one that I've implemented lately. It has actually helped me develop a different attitude towards what success is and that even though I may not have some of the talents others have, it doesn't mean I’m just "OK". There are so many incredible messages in that film that I can relate to that I can’t even begin to start writing them all. :)
You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
Well, film is so subjective. What I love, some others hate (and vice versa). This person I’m “arguing” with is probably debating Monsters University vs. Despicable Me 2, haha. I would probably not try to convince them or argue with them but I would listen to their opinion and then give mine, which is: I like quality, classy things and I’m very detailed oriented. Pixar to me is my type of humor, beautiful animation (the best out there by far), lovable/relatable/iconic characters and the heartwarming/genius stories…they’re quality, classy and extremely detailed. :) The movies are more than an “all star cast”, pop culture references, bathroom humor and a hip soundtrack. If that’s your style than that’s fine! But it’s not mine. :) In short - Pixar films are timeless and for everyone of any age and that’s how I like it.
Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
Stay classy Pixar! In my opinion, you’re 14 for 14 films with no need to go the more “worldly” or lazy route like some of these other animated films out there...
If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
…Just keep doing what you’re doing! Thank you SO much for YEARS of magic and I'm looking forward to many more years of magic to come! :) You’re the BEST!


Dan currently runs his own blog, where he frequently uploads photos and commentary on the latest additions to his ever-growing collection of Pixar gems. He encourages you to comment to give him any pointers on Pixar collectibles he may not know of yet, and likes to chat on Twitter as well - be sure to reach out to him at @PixarFanDan, right after you check out his fantastic blog, of course.

And as always, if you enjoyed reading this week's issue of The Luxo Limelight, remember you can always email me at if you are interested in being the next participant in the column!

Tune in again for the next issue of The Luxo Limelight next Friday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pete Docter Spills (Some) Beans on 'Inside Out'

As this year's annual Pixar flick is out and most folks have already seen it, fans of the studio begin to look to the future for excitement. What does the future have in store? Well, in 2015, Pixar is treating audiences to a little film called Inside Out.

Directed by the one and only Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), this animated adventure will take us "to a place that everyone knows, but no one has ever seen". The studio's 16th feature film will allow us to venture inside an 11-year-old girl's mind and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, some of the emotions featured as prominent characters will be anger, sadness, disgust and joy.

Docter also revealed that the film will have two storylines taking place simultaneously - one being what occurs inside the protagonist's head, the other what happens on the outside. “One story is hard enough,” the director explained. “This is two stories that need to talk to each other.” Pete also gave us an idea as to what the film will look like and said, "The characters are created with this energy because we are trying to represent what emotions would look like. They are made up of particles that actually move. Instead of being skin and solid, it is a massive collection of energy. It’s a lot of fun and really takes advantage of what animation can do."

No doubt this will be unlike anything we've ever seen before, both visually and storywise.

Apart from Docter, several crew members from Up are back working on Inside Out, including producer Jonas Rivera, and story supervisor Ronnie del Carmen, who co-directs this new animated flick. The film is written by Michael Arndt, the mastermind scribe behind Toy Story 3's genius script, who is currently also working on penning Star Wars: Episode VII.

There's still a bit of time until Inside Out hits the silver screen, but in the meantime, help pass the time by going out to see Monsters University - whether it's for the first time or for the fiftieth. And hey, The Good Dinosaur will be here in less than a year, so that should make the wait until Docter's next project a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Will 'The Good Dinosaur' Get Pixar Back on Top?

I recently wrote an article on the fantastic Disney news site Disney Dose regarding Pixar's upcoming feature film, The Good Dinosaur, directed by Bob Peterson. I talk about why some people claim that Pixar has "lost its touch" and how this new original film could possibly put an end to this frenzy.

Check it out over at Disney Dose, and while you're there, don't forget to browse through some of their other articles and get your daily dose of Disney all in one spot!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spectacular Monsters University Progression Reel

On average, a Pixar film takes 3 to 5 years to complete. Not only does the story have to be reworked and rewritten countless times until it's as close to perfect as possible, but once that tremendous task has been completed the filmmakers have to make the story come alive on screen through a series of steps. The following video should give you an idea of what a Pixar film looks like in each of those different stages.

Monsters University is now playing in theaters - go see the masterpiece that the artists in Emeryville spent years putting together!

Pre-Order Monsters University on Blu-ray

While Mike and Sulley are currently still busy pleasing audiences across the globe in theaters, Monsters University is already available for pre-order for those eager to get their hands all over a home video copy of the movie to enjoy in the warmth of their homes.

It looks like two different Blu-ray packs will be released for MU, as was the case last year with Brave. One will be a standard 2-disc "Collector's Edition" that will include both Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film, and the second will be the 4-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition", which will come with three versions of the movie: Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD - and of course, the usual bonus disc that Pixar always treats its fans to, stacked to the brim with delightful bonus features. At first glance it seems as if Disney has trimmed off the Digital Copy from this release, but fear not, you'll still be able to enjoy Monsters U on your mobile device, the only difference from previous titles is that now you'll have to download your film from the web as opposed to from an extra disc.

The sad news is that Disney seems to be playing the same mean old trick on us that they did with Cars 2 - fans looking to get all the juicy bonus features will have to purchase the more expensive, 3D-inclusive Ultimate Collector's Edition of the film, as that precious extra disc will be absent from the standard, 3D-less Collector's Edition.

Regardless of that annoying fact, you'll still want to own Monsters University and add it to your collection! Pre-order now, or you know, you can always just patiently wait until it comes out and buy the movie in-store, it doesn't make that much of a difference.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #7: Emma Evans

This week, I chatted with the very amiable Emma Evans, who currently resides in Missouri. She's quite the passionate Pixar aficionado and is full of big dreams for the future. Learn more about her on this week's Luxo Limelight!


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
My favorite short film is definitely La Luna, it’s so creative and something about it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My favorite Pixar movie though is either The Incredibles or UP. I can’t choose between them because I love love love the character design in both of them. I like the Incredibles because of the retro vibe it gives off with the sharp angles and the bits of saxophone in the soundtrack. 

I love the strong themes of love and devotion in UP as well as the subtler message of ‘It’s not the destination, it’s the journey’. Pixar is amazing at creating fun and light-hearted movies that still manage to leave an impact on the audience and allow them to become timeless classics.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
My favorite characters are probably Edna, Ellie, and Queen Elinor. Edna, simply because she’s hilarious and is the product of some AWESOME character design (good character design is everything).

I love Ellie because she is the kind of person that I want to be. She fearlessly pursued her dream to go see the world and have all sorts of adventures, but as she grew older and farther away from her dream she realized that she didn’t need to travel to be happy. And I find it so incredible that Pixar’s animators can take a character and show her to you for a mere ten minutes, most of which has no dialogue, and still allow you to come away knowing her and understanding her importance.

I think I like Elinor a lot because I sympathize with her. While everyone else watched the movie and was caring about Merida, all I could think was just how much of a brat she was. I mean sure, I wouldn’t want to be forced into an arranged marriage either, but I just didn’t connect with her. I felt bad for Elinor because I understood that everything she did was out of love and a desire to do what’s right, while all Merida cared about was herself. I think other people who watched Brave connected with Merida because they understood how she felt, and they wanted to be themselves in a world that wouldn’t let them. But I’m more like Elinor and I was always thinking, ‘Merida why are you doing this, don’t you know that you could cause your entire kingdom to fall into despair and desolation?!’ I understand Elinor’s struggle between what’s right for her kingdom and what’s right for her daughter. 

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
I’d have to say my favorite Pixarian is Pete Docter. He’s really inspiring because he’s the classic underdog. When they were looking for a new director after Toy Story 2 Pete Docter stepped up to the plate but they told him he couldn’t do it, he was too new. But John Lasseter believed in him and gave him the job anyways, which resulted in some of the most touching and emotional of Pixar’s movies. Also, John Lasseter, this guy is the greatest  person on Earth. there are no words to describe how awesome this guy is. I don’t really know why I like him so much, maybe it’s because he reminds me of my dad. But John Lasseter can’t be forgotten because he is John Lasseter and that’s all there is too it. 

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
About a year ago in class our school’s counselor had us considering what kind of careers we wanted to pursue; and I, of course, knew that I was going to do something artsy. I was trying to narrow it down to something more specific when it dawned on me, people at Pixar get paid to dream up characters! So, being me, I watched every single Pixar movie and the commentaries and read a bunch of books about the place to prepare myself for my future dream job. 

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I’m super excited about Teddy Newton’s new movie. I’m a HUGE fan of his
and I think it’s about time he get to make his own movie. I’m also pretty excited about Pete Docter’s new film because his movies are always my favorites.

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there?
Like I said before, I had my heart set on becoming a character designer for Pixar, but recently I’ve decided that I’m not nearly competitive enough to go out for a job like that. However, I do hope that maybe I can do something else for Pixar that doesn’t necessarily involve the arts.

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
To them it’s just another one of my quirks. They don’t really mind but they do get pretty irritated when we go to see a new Pixar movie and I provide a running commentary on the whole thing. :)

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Awesome, but intimidating.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life?
Everyday; that’s the magical thing about Pixar. They teach kids, and even adults, lessons that can help them through everyday life. 

Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
The lesson that Ellie embodies, that even though you may think that achieving your ultimate goals is the only thing that can make you happy, happiness is where your heart is. You may never achieve your dream, but maybe you didn’t need to. 

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
I would ask them when was the last time they created an entirely new computer system from scratch, invented an entirely new art form, and built a multi-million dollar company that impacted the lives of thousands of people and became a pop culture icon in only a few years. That might put them in their place.  Also, I would bring up the Death Star, which is my trump card.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
I hope they remain a real company for real people, rather than a huge corporate monster that spews out movies just to make money. Pixar is so friendly and family-like, so devoted to their work. They have an attitude that allows people to pursue their dreams of working there rather than becoming distant and corporate.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
Amid the squeals and manly tears of joy they would probably make out something like ‘I love you so much, you guys rock, don’t stop what you’re doing, EVER.’ or something else equally embarrassing.


Big thanks to Emma for contributing her fantastic answers! Follow her on Twitter at @LuxoCharaDesign and be sure to check out some of her extraordinary artwork on her deviantART page as well! And as always if you enjoy reading The Luxo Limelight, why not participate in it yourself? If you are interested don't forget to email me at!

Tune in once again next Friday for the eight issue of The Luxo Limelight!

Monsters University: A Triumphant Return to the Monster World

Yup, I've finally gotten around to writing my review of Pixar's latest animated effort, the highly anticipated prequel to their 2001 hit about monsters who scare children at bedtime for a living. I saw Monsters University one day prior to its official release date at an advance screening and planned to review it shortly afterward, but decided to leave it until I had seen the film a second time, just to be fair - I tend to still be in awe during the first few days after seeing a Pixar film for the first time, and I didn't want that to affect my review of the film. However, I'm happy to say that I am still fascinated with MU even after a second viewing.

Feel free to continue reading my rather lengthy, spoiler-free review.

I walked into the theater with monstrous expectations (pun maliciously intended), as I assume most people did. This was the prequel to a film that many people, including myself, grew up on and hold very dear, so naturally Monsters University had some pretty darn big shoes to fill. Nevertheless, I was confident that I would not be disappointed with what I witnessed that evening, and felt a pleasant little rush of adrenaline as the iconic lamp hopped across the screen and proceeded to traditionally squash the letter "I".

Monsters University tells the story of how monsters Michael Wazowski and James P. Sullivan first met (forget the "since the 4th grade" line from the original film, it's already been established that that's merely an expression used in the monster world) and eventually went from being college rivals to the best of friends. The beauty about this movie is that you don't have to be familiar with Monsters, Inc. to enjoy it, although fans of the original film will delight in subtle little nods to the 2001 hit here and there. While it ties in beautifully with its predecessor (or, chronologically, successor), Monsters University sets out to tell its own original tale as opposed to simply lead up to the original.

The film starts off and we meet the small, lovable green cyclops Mike, and learn how for the longest time, he has dreamed of becoming a scarer at the prestigious scream-collecting company, Monsters, Inc. He arrives with high hopes on his first day at Monsters University, full of determination and set on becoming the greatest scarer ever. Soon, however, Mike meets his polar opposite: Jimmy Sullivan, a gargantuan blue "mountain with fur", who comes from a long line of legendary scarers. As soon as the two monsters come face to face, sparks fly and a fierce rivalry is forged; Mike is hardworking, persistent, and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, whereas Sulley is quite arrogant, lazy, and thinks his last name will pave his way in life. Ultimately, their rivalry lands them in an unlikely predicament that forces them to put aside their differences and work together (alongside a ragtag group reject scare students), which is where the movie really starts to get good.

Parts of the plot may seem a tad familiar at first, like the whole idea of a group of underdogs trying to work their way back up to the top, but the filmmakers at Pixar manage to really bring their own special twist to it and not make it seem cliché. Monsters U will additionally surprise you with some enthralling twists here and there.

One of the highlights of this film is the extraordinary cast of characters. Monsters University has one of the greatest animated ensembles of recent memory; the members of Mike and Sulley's fraternity Oozma Kappa are all endearingly quirky, and each stands out as an individual. Terri and Terry's bickering is quite amusing, Don, the mature one, is a delight, and Art of course is absolutely hilarious on multiple occasions. But the true scene-stealer in this flick is the adorable five-eyed Squishy - you just can't help but fall in love with him whenever he's on screen, and there's one particular scene where he had me laughing uncontrollably. His mom is also a knockout, and Helen Mirren delivers a chilling performance as the frightening Dean Hardscrabble. One of the things I was also very interested in seeing is what they did with Randall. I'll leave it at this: they gave the sneaky purple lizard a very satisfying if brief backstory.

And of course, Mike and Sulley are as charming and entertaining as you remember them. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than Billy Crystal and John Goodman constantly, hilariously playing off each other - the chemistry between their characters is unbelievable. Overall, all the other voice actors do a phenomenal job bringing each of their respective characters to life in a unique way, and you really connect with all the main characters, which is rare today in the world of mindless in-your-face action blockbusters.

Other standouts that had more minor roles in the film but were nonetheless delightful whenever they happened to be on screen include Brock Pearson and Claire Wheeler of the Greek Council, and Frank McCay, a professional scarer whom Mike meets at the start of the film.

In terms of humor, this has to be one of Pixar's funniest - in fact, I'd place it only after Toy Story 3. It's quite insane really, the amount of clever wit there is in this film. The jokes in MU range from anything as simple as an amusing remark from Mike (which there are plenty of, I can assure you) to one of Art's bizarre antics, all the way to hilarious college-themed gags. There is something in this movie to make anybody laugh. I guess the funniness of a movie really depends on a person's sense of humor but, if you don't laugh hard at least once throughout Monsters U then...forgive what I say but, you, my friend, are soulless.

Also, I walked into this movie thinking it would simply be a really funny entertaining romp (which it was), but I was surprised at the amount of genuine heart MU really had. Sure, it's nowhere near being as tear-jerkingly sentimental as the original film or Toy Story 3, but it's sure got enough heart-warming substance to make you feel fuzzy inside, and comes with a very nice moral too.

Visually, well, what can I say? Monsters University is Pixar's best-looking film yet. The characters all move fluidly and with incredible personality, the sets are masterfully crafted and remarkably detailed, and the film as a whole is quite colorful and vibrant. I saw the movie in 3D and, I'll be honest, I forgot I was watching it in 3D for the majority of the running time. That's not to say the 3D is bad, it's just not incredibly memorable or remarkable, so you're not missing out on much if you see the film in the standard 2D format.

Randy Newman's score is also phenomenal, often paying homage to the music of the original film. Additionally, the film's soundtrack includes "Roar" by Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, and "Gospel" by MarchFourth Marching Band, which are both fantastic tunes that add beautifully to the film.

Now, a lot of people have said that while MU is good, it doesn't quite reach the heights of the original Monsters. That makes me wonder, however, if this had been released before MI, would people still be saying that? Walt Disney once famously said, "You can't top pigs with pigs." Maybe the reason this prequel doesn't seem as fresh as the film that came before it is because much of the clever inventiveness seen in MU we were already introduced to over a decade ago. But, ok, let's say Monsters U  isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Monsters, Inc. was - it still comes awfully close. And besides, who really cares if a sequel/prequel isn't as good as the original? What matters is if it's a good movie, which, in the case of MU, it is. A great movie at that, worthy of both the original film and the Pixar name. Pixar is losing its touch, you say? Pfff...don't be ridiculous. Not even close.

Score: 9 / 10

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

'The Blue Umbrella' Is a Mind Blower

My (delayed) review of Monsters University should be up tomorrow, but before I go on to that, let me briefly share my thoughts on the latest short film that the animation powerhouse known as Pixar has to offer.

The Blue Umbrella is pure delight. Despite having essentially the same basic storyline as Disney Animation's equally astounding Paperman, the way this short executes that story is really quite creative and original. And don't even get me started on the whole visual aspect of the short - it's just, yeesh, beyond words. With all the clever inventiveness you'd expect from a Pixar short, plenty of eye candy to gawk at, and an unbelievably catchy soundtrack, The Blue Umbrella is another charming addition to the studio's flawless library of short films. I look forward to the day when director Saschka Unseld helms his own feature-length film at the studio.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #6: Forster Keenoy

And we're back with yet another issue of The Luxo Limelight, where you get the chance to learn all about Pixar superfans from all across the globe. This week, I got to chat with the very awesome Forster Keenoy, one of the biggest Pixar geeks you'll ever come across.


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
I'd have to say the Toy Story trilogy. All three combined. I grew up with the first two and the third is the only movie that I consistently cry at (curse you Lee Unkrich!!!). It's harder to pick a favorite short. If you held me at gunpoint and asked me to  pick, I'd say Knick Knack. The comedy in the short is great. The characters in the short are great. Everything about that short is great. I love it.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
It is incredibly difficult to pick my favorite Pixar character because I just have so many! But the first character I fell in love with was Buzz Lightyear. Having been inundated with Toy Story ever since I was a little kid, I've been a Buzz fan for all these years. The gags that are done with his character over the course of three films are some of my favorite comedic moments, especially whenever he's in his deluded state. In fact, my favorite comedy scene in any Pixar film remains the Mrs. Nesbit scene. I feel like I relate to him in his steadfast loyalty to his friends. I consider myself lucky to have such great friends, both in and out of the Pixar fandom, and I would do anything for them, much like Buzz does for Woody in TS1 and TS2 and Jessie in TS3. He will always be my favorite character, no matter what.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Now I'm really on the spot. xD Out of the thousands of people who work at the studio, I'm going to narrow it down to three people: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Dan Scanlon. Let's start with JL. Obviously, everyone loves JL. He's the one who started it all. Without John, Pixar wouldn't even exist: Ed Catmull specifically hired John to do animation for the company when it was still under Lucasfilm's umbrella. However, that is not the only reason. John Lasseter seems like the most genuinely, heartfelt, funny, passionate man ever. Just looking through the barrier of a computer screen or television at his interviews, appearances on audio commentaries, even his viral videos for TS3, Cars 2, and MU, he seems like a guy I would like to give a big bear hug to. He's the best. Now Lee is up there because he is also a very funny guy. Listening to him doing the commentaries for TS2, MI, and Nemo, he seems to be someone who would always have a new joke everytime you met him. I also love him because he was the first director to connect with fans through social media. During TS3's development, Lee's Twitter was the place to be. Everyday he'd tweet behind the scenes pictures, reveal important news, or just interact in a whole new way. One of my early Twitter memories was, during one of Lee's Twitter Q&A's he used to do, he answered me back. I was on Cloud 9 right then. Lee was also the first director to personally respond to one of my (many) pieces of fan mail to the studio. It also helps he directed TS3, one of my favorite films of all time. Now, the reason Dan Scanlon is in my top three is kind of unorthodox. While, yes, Monsters U. was a fantastic film, Dan did something that still stands as one of the coolest things I own. June 23rd, 2011. I'd been thinking about writing a letter to Dan Scanlon ever since it was announced he was directing MU. That day, I just did it. I wrote something about being excited for MU and wishing him luck. I addressed it, stamped it, put it in the mailbox and put the flag up, expecting a reply in a month or so. Fast forward to July 11th. I had been out with my family doing random things. We got home and, as usual, I went to check the mail. I pull out the mail, casually flipping through it when I arrive an envelope addressed to me with just the return address Pixar (with Heimlich as the I). I flipped out. I ran inside and opened the letter. Out came a hand written note from Dan saying "Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you like the first film. I was a fan of that film myself. I'm looking forward to sharing MU with you and the rest of the world. Dan Scanlon." Also in the envelope was a hand drawn sketch of Mike and Sulley signed by him to me. Needless to say I was kind of excited. Immediately, Monsters U. jumped to the very top of my most anticipated Pixar films and, two years later, I'm happy to say it did not let me down. Thanks Dan. You're still the best! :D

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
It's hard to pinpoint just when I became a Pixar fanatic. I guess we can go back to my early years. In 1996, a film called Toy Story came out on VHS. My dad, for whatever reason, decided to purchase it for me. I fell in love from the start. Obviously, being a year old at the time I don't remember this, but my mom tells me that, every time she put Toy Story in the VCR, she knew that she had an hour and a half of free time to get stuff done around the house because I was just mesmerized. Then Toy Story 2 came around. Understandably, I was excited. We went to McDonald's a lot around that time because they had Toy Story 2 toys. Then we saw it in theaters and it became the first movie I ever saw in the theater. After that, I was hooked on Pixar films. For every film from MI to Cars, I would spend hours on its website. I was in heaven. Also, in, I'd say 2003ish, I decided to pop in the third disc in the Toy Story Ultimate Toy Box I had. And from that day on, making of featurettes became my favorite part of any Pixar DVD. Then, in August 2009, I rediscovered a forum that I had off handedly signed up for in 2008. That forum was Pixar Planet. It was a place where I could geek out with people like me. From then on, I was a very active member of Pixar Planet. I got lucky because in 2010, the place was really hopping with TS3 coming out. I joined a group called the Pixarteers at the beginning of summer 2010. By the end of that summer, they were some of my best friends. We would talk so much that even by the time we finished a five word post, three posts would have appeared! Those are two of the best summers ever (2010 and 2011). Then, in early 2012, I discovered a new Pixar fandom: the one on the Twitter. I am happy to say that I belong to two Pixar fandoms (which are starting to intermingle, which is awesome) that I love and am very glad to be a part of. I love you guys.

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
Out of the four confirmed future films (not counting the one alleged in development from MAndrews and Teddy Newton), I'll pick two. First up is Inside Out. I'm pumped because Pete has made two fantastic films and I have all the reason to believe number three will knock it out of the park. I'm also intrigued by the idea of it taking place inside of the girl's head. That opens up so many storytelling possibilities, it's not even funny. I'm super excited. The other one I'm pumped for is the Untitled Pixar Film About Dia de los Muertos. Obviously Lee has shown he can direct with TS3 and it's reunited Lee and Darla, so it really can't go wrong. I'm also interested to see what it will even be about. It seems like a slippery slope for Pixar to take, but I have all the confidence in the world in the duo of Lee and Darla, so I'm ready.

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
My family and friends are very supportive of my fandom. Even though I'm 17 years old, my parents will still take me to go see Pixar films or buy Pixar memorabilia. As for my real-life friends, as supportive as they are, I feel like they get a bit tired of hearing me drone on and on about Pixar. Because I talk about it A LOT. However, if my friends ever need an argument about something Pixar or film-related, they usually come to me. Of course, I have a lot of friends in the fandom and of course, they are the most supportive because they are in the same boat as I am. That's why I love the fandom.

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
Honestly, it's really hard to pick just one specific time that I've used a lesson a Pixar film has taught me because I use them every single day! If I had to pick one moral lesson from a Pixar film that resonates with me and that I use the most, it's the friendship lessons portrayed most skillfully in the Toy Story films and the Monsters films. The closeness that Buzz and Woody and Mike and Sulley feel are feelings that I strive for with my friends. Those duos are inseparable and I want my friends and me to be that close.

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
I just tell them to look at the facts. Look at the critics' scores (except Cars 2) and, especially, the audience ratings. Obviously, people are going to say Pixar is for kids, and, while, yes that's their opinion, I try to stress the lessons that Pixar teaches that are still relative in today's adult world, not just in the world of kids. I usually just go with facts, instead of my opinion, which is, of course, Pixar is the greatest thing in the world.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
I just hope that they hold onto their tentpole of great storytelling. One of my favorite quotes is JL's "The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art." I hope that, even through this patch of sequels/prequels and for years after, they continue to tell great, emotional stories that inspire millions around the world.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
Thank you so much for creating this wonderful company that has been such a huge part of my life, is a huge part of kids' lives, and will continue to be a huge part of people's lives for generations to come. Thank you.


Forster also sent in a picture of some of the treasures he's acquired over the years, and if you're a Pixar buff who has ever received a letter straight from the studio, then you can probably relate to his excitement when finding one of those nifty little envelopes in the mailbox. Check it out:

Be sure to follow Forster on Twitter (@pixarfan9510), and stop by his blog, Yet Another Pixar Blog, as well. Like him on Facebook (pixarfan9099) and add him on Instagram too, and finally, you can find him on the Pixar Planet forums under the username pixarfan9099. And of course, here's the mandatory weekly reminder to readers that if you would like to participate in The Luxo Limelight, all you need to do is simply email me at (don't be shy).

Thanks for tuning in! Check back next Friday for the next issue of The Luxo Limelight!