Disney+ Filmmaker Panel: SparkShorts

On November 12, Disney+ will launch as the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more.  One of the many offerings that will be present from the start of this groundbreaking channel is Pixar’s “SparkShorts” program–an in-house initiative designed to discover new storytelling voices and nurture new storytelling techniques.

Recently, AllEars was invited to Pixar Studios for an early look at some of their upcoming work.  Among the footage screened was a newly released short “Float,” by Toy Story 4 and Inside Out animator Bobby Rubio.  Afterwards, we were treated to a panel consisting of SparkShorts filmmakers Rubio, Brian Larsen (“Smash and Grab”); Rosana Sullivan (“Kitbull”); and Kristen Lester (“Purl”.)

Panel highlights:

“It was just a little experiment at the studio–we didn’t really know what to expect.  We knew that we had a lot of diverse, creative voices that we wanted to hear from, but we didn’t really have an outlet to give that many people opportunities.  So we started the SparkShorts program in an effort to do that.  The thought was, if we just gave these filmmakers a little time and a bit of budget and then just sort of got out of their way, what would they do?”

Lester on “Purl”:  “Purl” was inspired by my time working in the animation industry as a woman…for a long time, I was the only woman on a team of story artists, I was the only woman at a small company, I was the only woman in an office, and I was very lonely.  I just wanted so badly to do the thing that I loved, and I just did whatever I needed to do to fit in.  That meant everything from drinking at 9 am, to not talking about the fact that I liked When Harry Met Sally because that was embarrassing.

“I didn’t sort of realize how much of the feminine part of myself I was putting aside to be accepted.  And then I came to Pixar and started working with women for the first time…I went to a meeting and they were bringing in other female artists from the industry to talk to the story artists.  They had invited a woman to come and speak and she had been in the industry for way longer than myself, and she showed up and it was 9 am and she was wearing a full suit–a man’s suit–and she was like ‘what are we doing here, we should be drinking down at the bar!’  And I just had this realization that we were all turning ourselves into men, basically, in order to be here.  And if I turned around and looked at the women who were working, who were new to the industry, who were looking for someone to model themselves off of, they were looking at me.  And what kind of example was I setting?  I was basically saying ‘you can’t talk about bras, you can’t talk about this because that’s not what we do when we want to fit in, we want to be here.’

“So I went back to those meetings…and I was like TELL ME MORE ABOUT BRAS AND CATS AND THE THINGS THAT YOU LOVE.”

Sullivan on “Kitbull”:  “For me, as a kid, I had always struggled with being extremely sensitive and having a hard time making friends when I was really young.  And so whenever I did overcome that shyness I initially had, it was very powerful.  And making a friend when they’re hard to come by when you’re much younger–it just always stuck out for me.  So that was a theme I wanted to play around with ‘Kitbull’ and also just animal welfare in general because before, once upon a time, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian, and so I always envisioned telling a story with animals and how society treats them.”

Larsen on “Smash and Grab”:  “I was head of story at the time, working with Mark Andrews in development, and we were trying to get a project off the ground for a long time.  So artistically, I felt like I was on this track and could never get off of it because we were just trying to work this story over and over and over…The short was kind of a reflection of what I was going through at that time–I just wanted to break out and try something new, and yet doing that, there are some unforeseen consequences or experiences…

“There’s all of that fun stuff that you get to do, but there’s always these things that you’re going to learn about yourself and being put into that seat for the first time and you’re just trying to take command of this situation and get people through it.  It was kind of being reflected in the short at the same time, but it was really coming from my artistic struggle and just wanting to break out and get out of there.  It was an action-adventure in itself.”

Float poster

Rubio on “Float”:  “The short is based off of my relationship with my son Alex, and my son Alex is on the autism spectrum.  As a father, it was hard for me to deal with, and I remember going to the parks and looking at the other children, the typical children, and I hated it.  It just reminded me that I had something different, and that’s what I tried to put into the short.  It’s about a father who sees the difference, but doesn’t see the special until he truly accepts his son unconditionally.

“I wanted people out there to know that they’re not alone, and I wanted this to be a love letter to all the outsiders.”

These three shorts and “Float” will be streaming on Disney+ at launch, with additional shorts “Wind” in December and “Loop” in January–visit DisneyPlus.com to learn more!

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Drop us a line below.

Be sure to follow @allearsnet on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Check out our YouTube Channel for reviews, news, information and more!

Click below to subscribe to the AllEars® newsletter so you don’t miss any of the latest Disney news!

Click here to subscribe

Are you excited to check out SparkShorts? Let us know in the comments!

Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *