Oscar 2012: Pixar’s Enrico Casarosa and Kevin Reher Talk La Luna
DS: Do shorts provide you with a window into whom may be right to helm a feature film? Is it also a testing ground for technical problem solving or technological innovations?
KR: Short films have traditionally been everything. They’ve been director proving grounds. They have [also] been about technology, everything from the skin in Geri's Game to the roiling clouds on Partly Cloudy, to feathers on For the Birds. But it also is an opportunity for some people who may not ever get a chance to direct a feature, but have this brilliant idea for a short film, to get an opportunity to be supported by the company and get a short made. Some of them rise to the occasion and become co-directors, or they become heads of story, sort of working through the maturing process to becoming a feature director.
DS: Enrique, let’s shift over to you for a minute. You mentioned that you work on story. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done at Pixar, and what brought you to the attention of the shorts group?
EC: Yeah, certainly. I started with the Pixar in 2002. I was the first story artist on Ratatouille, which was in development at the time. I worked for many years on Ratatouille, I worked on UP, and a little bit on Cars on well. Those were kind of my main three features. More recently I worked for a little bit on Cars 2, then took almost a year and half full time working on La Luna. So, I’ve been in the trenches of story there for almost 10 years now. And before I was a story artist on the East Coast, working on Ice Age at Blue Sky Studios.
DS: Tell us a little bit about what a story artist does day to day within the feature film production pipeline at Pixar. How does your work translate onto the screen?
EC: We feel that we’re there to support the director finding his story, the story he wants to tell. It varies in many ways. It can be as detailed as the director or the writer giving us 10 pages of the script with full dialogue and descriptions. In that case, we’re visualizing [the film] in the best way possible, so we’ll take that from the beginning!
DS: Could you elaborate on that?
EC: I’ll start from the beginning. As I said, in broad strokes, a story artist is really there to support the director in finding the story. The range of input varies, [sometimes] just visualizing and drawing a sequence that has been fully scripted, where there would be a very specific job to visualizing, finding the camera setups, determining the acting, the pacing, thinking about cinematography all around. So, there is that side of the job.
The other side that’s even more important is being there to brainstorm ideas. When we put these clips and stills together as story reels, once we storyboard everything, we look at them with some temporary score, temporary voices. It’s about trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not working, looking at how to make it better.
The story team is really there to support the director in those decisions. We do a lot of iterations of looking at this movie in storybook form. Hopefully, from the beginning [of the process] to the end you start getting to a movie that’s doing all that you want. The beginning is always a little bit broken up but you find your gems, tent poles, if you will.