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 email@example.com 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!