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Pixar Debuts Experimental Storytelling Initiative, ‘SparkShorts’

First three animated short films -- ‘Purl,’ ‘Smash and Grab,’ & ‘Kitbull’ -- to be presented for exclusive one-week run at the El Capitan Theater alongside ‘The Little Mermaid’ starting January 18, followed by release on YouTube and Disney+ later in 2019.

Pixar Animation Studios has announced the official debut of its experimental storytelling initiative, dubbed “SparkShorts,” with an exclusive one-week run of the first three short films to emerge from the program at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood starting on Friday, January 18.

The three shorts -- Purl, Smash and Grab, and Kitbull, will screen for one week at the El Capitan Theatre alongside The Little Mermaid before kicking off Pixar’s first-ever YouTube launch:

YouTube Release Dates:

  • February 4, 2019 – Purl on YouTube
  • February 11, 2019 – Smash and Grab on YouTube and YouTube Kids
  • February 18, 2019 – Kitbull on YouTube and YouTube Kids

These first three shorts, along with the rest of the projects in the SparkShorts program, will also be available for viewing on Disney+ when the streaming service launches in late 2019.

SparkShorts is an experimental storytelling initiative that welcomes new creative voices at the studio to share their stories. “The SparkShorts program is designed to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios, said in a statement. “These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”

Lindsey Collins, vice president of development for Pixar, added, “We want to nurture our future storytellers and encourage them to share their stories with the world. Who are the future directors and producers and what crazy new ideas do they have brewing? What is the next big breakthrough in our industry? Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of SparkShorts. The program was created to provide opportunities to a wide array of artists -- each with something unique to say.”

Here are some details about each of the short films to emerge from the program so far:


Directed by Kristen Lester and produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan, Purl features an earnest ball of yarn named Purl who gets a job in a fast-paced, high energy, bro-tastic start-up. Yarny hijinks ensue as she tries to fit in, but how far is she willing to go to get the acceptance she yearns for, and in the end, is it worth it?


Directed by Rosana Sullivan and produced by Kathryn Hendrickson, Kitbull reveals an unlikely connection that sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.

Smash and Grab

Directed by Brian Larsen and produced by David Lally, Smash and Grab is about two antiquated robots who risk everything for freedom and for each other after years of toiling away inside the engine room of a towering locomotive.


In Float, directed by Bobby Rubio, a father discovers that his son floats, which makes him different from other kids. To keep them both safe from the judgement of the world, Dad hides, covers, and grounds him. But when his son’s ability becomes public, Dad must decide whether to run and hide or to accept his son as he is.


In Loop, directed by Erica Milsom, a non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world.


Directed by Edwin Chang, Wind is a magical realism story about a Grandma and a Grandson trapped in a massive, never ending sink-hole, living on a large boulder suspended by strong winds. Together they scavenge falling debris to build an escape, hoping to find a better life in the outside world.

Source: Disney/Pixar

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.