Newton, Reher and Wellins Talk Disney and Pixar Shorts
DW: Yah. As hard as all the classes were to go through for pre-dental school, I loved science. But they were hard and I was getting Cs. So I decided to take some art classes to help out my GPA. [everyone laughs] I had one teacher when I went to UC Davis, who said, “These are really good, maybe you should do this!” I thought, “I don’t know if I can do this for a living. I love drawing like that but…” He brought me the Cal Arts admissions catalog and said you should check this place out. So I called them and looked them up, and it looked like there was a pretty good life in animation. I actually took a bunch of my drawings and put them in a Tony Llama cowboy boot box, taped it up and sent it to CalArts. Then they said, “Yah, you’re accepted to the film and video program.” I went, “Oh, OK.” [everyone laughs] I knew so little about it. The worst part was calling my dad to tell him I wasn’t going to be an orthodontist. He was like “Nawwww.”
KR: I just think the coolest thing, which I know has happened at least 3 times, is when you see a PA sitting just doodling and some art director comes by and says, “Did you draw that?” and all of a sudden they become a sketch artist or character designer.
DS: That’s part of the magic of being in that environment. The last thing I wanted to ask you is what’s next? Is there anything you can talk about?
TN: Well, I’m back in development, just coming up with some new cartoons at the moment. But, I haven’t pitched them yet so it’s still early. Probably another month or so. I’m still mixing ideas. We haven’t settled on any one yet.
DW: I am now in the “B” side, as Tick Tock Tale was the “A” side, of my springboard into a feature, which I’m developing right now at Disney.
DS: Is there a timetable on this project?
DW: It looks like it’s going to be 2014-2015, depending upon how things go. So far, so good. We’ve got a writer, we’re busy doing development artwork, we’re excited. John’s excited. I’ve been going on research trips, actually been using a lot of Pixar guys, like Jay Ward. He has been side by side with me as we gallivant around the US looking at crazy car stuff. It’s cool. Jay Ward is John’s car guy. He’s like the guru of all things automotive. He sort of oversees the integrity of cars, like on Cars 2, all the vehicles, their names and characters. His card says “Jay Ward, all things cars.” You gotta love that job. It’s great. It’s what you love and you want to be the best at it.
DS: How many shorts do you have in development and production at any one time?
KR: We’re finishing one for 2012. We finished early and are taking it to Annecy in 2011. There’s a funny short that got put in with Cars so we got bumped to go with Brave. Then we have two other shorts that are going before John, as soon as we get some time with him, for 2013. We’ve also put it out there to a number of other people, “Do you want to pitch a short?” And this one person says, “Nah, I got to work on my writing, I can’t deal with that.” [everyone laughs] OK, so you don’t want a million dollars to make a short, writing is more important, OK! [more laughter] So you never know.
Dan Sarto is the publisher of AWN.