Pixar's Pete Docter has directed a number of top animated feature films, including Monsters Inc and Up. And now he's back with what will almost certainly be Pixar's next hit – and what he refers to as the work he's 'most proud of' – Inside Out.
A huge hit at Cannes and set to storm cinemas globally this summer, Docter discusses Inside Out in a special CNN Ones to Watch, which airs on CNN International on Sunday 13 June at 8:30pm. It's here that Docter will also reveal why he believes former Pixar art director and a 2015 Oscar nominee, Dice Tsutsumi is an artist to keep a close eye on.
Born in Tokyo, Tsutsumi left Pixar last year to begin an independent venture aiming to bring together two power houses of animation the US and Japan. Tsustsumi has lived in the US for the past 23 years, and CNN Ones to Watch is with him as he works on a new feature film that blends the best tools and techniques from both countries.
Here, Docter discusses the talents of his former colleague, as well as the inspiration behind his new movie...
Why did you choose Dice Tsutsumi as your 'One to Watch'?
Dice has a strong personal style, which I always love to see. His paintings are just beautiful, and he captures subtle things like bounce light and reflections with a bold, stylish deftness.
Are there things animation can achieve which other art forms can't?
Absolutely! To me animation has the potential to be a moving form of caricature. It's intentionally selective; it takes the incredible complexity of real life and leaves out anything irrelevant to what's being said. If done well, animation can feel simultaneously artificial and hyper-real at the same time, which I find fascinating.
Because of this, I also think animation can go places and reach people emotionally that other mediums can't. Some of the stuff we do in Up, for example, would probably come off as schmaltzy in live action. Somehow we get away with it in animation
What drove you to become an animator and director?
As a kid I was attracted to the craft: I loved skilled drawing and virtuosic movement. Later, the craftsmanship became less important and I was captivated by how a good animator can make a character feel as though it's alive, like the character is thinking.
Today, I'm in love with storytelling and the idea of saying something about life, as highfalutin' as that sounds. I want to capture some experience I've had, and put that across to the audience so they feel that same feeling. It's about communication; being able to talk about the world through sounds and images.
Which work are you most proud of in your career?
Right now, Inside Out. Who knows how I'll look back at it in 20 years, but today I feel like it captured what I felt watching my kids grow up. That change from child to adult is sad and difficult – and beautiful and necessary – and the film says that better than I can here using words.
What can audiences expect from Inside Out?
Hopefully they'll have fun; that's first on the list. Then too I hope they see their own inner world brought to life in ways they recognize but have never really thought about – like explaining where dreams come from, or why songs get stuck in their heads. By the end I hope the film gives them something to think about even after the movie ends. I'm hoping we give everyone a bonus souvenir to take home.
CNN Ones to Watch airs on CNN International on Saturday 13 June at 8:30pm.