Newton, Reher and Wellins Talk Disney and Pixar Shorts
TN: It was probably about the fourth time I saw it. It was usually with people who were coming in, like some actors that were visiting Pixar. We’d show them. And when they would react to it that’s when I thought, “Oh, maybe this works.” I think for all the people who worked on it, when we watch it, we’re just looking for all the problems. When you see fresh people come in, they’re like, “Wow, what’s that? That is really different.” They appreciate that aspect of it. I think the people who are working on it can’t see anything but what they did wrong.
Kevin [to Dean]: Did you ever show yours to visitors when they were there?
DW: Here and there, but mostly, it was just within our own ranks that we showed it. For me, it’s a communication thing. You put it out there, you get a reaction to it and you go, “Oh yah.” For us, we [Disney] had so many huge things going that our little team was not on the radar at all. Nobody knew it was being made, nobody knew that it even was in our own building. And after seeing it, people were going, “When did we even do that? When did this happen?” And so at that point I felt that we pretty much did what we were supposed to do.
KR: All of these original shorts for us are all done within the dip among productions. You want to keep people busy. Our dip had to be with people who did 2D animation, so it was a little different [than Dean’s film]. That’s why for the most part with us, it was the same thing, people were like, “When did this happen?” Well, it happened in-between Cars 2 and Brave.
DS: On Thursday, there was a session at TAC [the Television Animation Conference] with Jan Pinkava. He spoke of the iterative process of writing on Ratatouille. He described how there is a point on every production, where despite all the work and effort done up to that moment, you sit down one afternoon and say, “God, this is just a piece of shite.” [everyone laughs] But from there, if you trust the process and people you’re working with, something wonderful will come from this. Was there a particular period of time in the making of your films when you sat down and said, “What did I get myself into?”
TN: I thought it worked fine in the storyboard and everyone thought yah, this is interesting, this could be great. Then we started making it. And there were so many technical problems of how to actually align the two mediums, so many drawing problems. All those things started happening and were going on for maybe 3 months and I was thinking, “Oh my, they’re probably going to fire me and this will be the end of me at Pixar.” It was so mangled, it was almost unwatchable for a very long time. I was amazed. But then at one point, the people that were really good at multiple parts of the production, whether it was technically or artistically, those people came to the front and made the movie what it eventually became. I don’t think it could have been done without certain people like that, that had a more dimensional view of how the different parts would fit into the other.
DW: It seems to always happen that you get certain key artists, usually not even people you really know or expect, that suddenly have an almost adjacent, secondary vision that takes it home. You say [to them], “Yah, I think I know what I want to do” and they come in and sort of take it over. And they say, “I think I know what to do with this” and they go running and you go, “Wow, look at him go man! He really got it!” [everyone laughs].