The Oscars: Going Up Again with Docter
With Up finally getting a best picture Oscar nomination for Pixar yesterday (along with four other nods, including best original screenplay and best animated feature), I caught up with director Pete Docter one more time. We discussed the significance of the Oscar breakthrough along with the emotional impact of Up and, of course, Toy Story 3.
Bill Desowitz: Well, congratulations on the Oscar nominations and the tremendous success and love for Up.
Pete Docter: Yeah, very cool, thanks.
BD: Fifth best all-time for animation and second best for Pixar with nearly $300 million: All that early marketing anxiety for nothing.
BD: What's it mean for you being nominated for Best Picture?
PD: It's great that they've been able to shake things up, and I think [it's a great opportunity] to show how similar the process is creatively to live action: story and character and motivation, cinematography, the language that we use and how we approach things. I know on WALL·E they had Roger Deakins come by and was able to talk with our DPs and lighting folks in the same way that they would talk amongst themselves on a live-action show. So it's very, very equivalent.
BD: Now the academy can get more comfortable looking at animation as just a movie.
PD: We certainly look at them that way: we don't expect to get a free pass just because it's animated. They have to do the same heavy lifting as any film, and that's, as you mentioned, to affect people, to get in touch with their own experiences and find some emotional truth that speaks to them.
BD: Carl has certainly struck an emotional chord with a diverse group of people.
PD: Yeah, it's been fun getting to talk to a branch of people that might not have otherwise responded. I got a couple of great letters from retired folks: one woman who had her husband pass away a year ago and said she was looking to cheer herself up. "I went to the theater to see Up and…" And I thought, "Uh-oh: How is the rest of this letter going to go?" But she wrote that she really felt closeness to her husband and it was a great experience for her, and she just wrote to say thank you. So, that was pretty cool to be able to do that for somebody.
BD: And I read about the little girl who was dying and wanted to see the movie. And you had a DVD sent to her house and she watched it just hours before passing on.