Wednesday 12 June 2013

Former Pixarian Gary Rydstrom Heads to Lucasfilm Animation; Brenda Chapman Talks

Word just broke today that longtime Pixarian, Gary Rydstrom, who was a sound designer on multiple Pixar films, directed Pixar shorts Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian and the wonderful Lifted, and was directing the hotly anticipated newt (so that's still a no then?) is now directing an animated feature film for Lucasfilm Animation! You may recall that was where Brenda Chapman headed after her Pixar exit last year (although she now works for DreamWorks), and it was from said Brave co-director that the news emerged.

Chapman spoke to Animation Magazine about what's passed, what's current and what's next, and when asked about her consulting work at Lucasfilm, the director replied:

"I have been working on a project with Lucas for quite some time — about six months. When Lucasfilm was handed over to Kathleen Kennedy, she asked me to consult on the film to help solve its story problems. It was an opportunity for me to work with her. I felt honored to be asked by her, after what happened at Pixar. DreamWorks was very generous to me in postponing my start date with them so that I could work with Kathleen, also. My work on the project is done. My good friend, Gary Rydstrom, is directing it now."

That's exciting news, right there! I remain still hopefully Gary will return to Pixar to make newt, but apparently not for a while. As for his new film, I doubt it's a Star Wars one - Disney have enough of them on the go already. It seems more likely that Lucasfilm are trying to broaden their animation arm (presumably Disney-encouraged), but I'd likewise doubt that it's an animated feature in the Disney/Pixar-style either, so it'll be interesting to see what Gary and Brenda have concocted

Chapman and fellow Brave director Mark Andrews with their
Oscars for the film.

Chapman also spoke about her current projects, including a DreamWorks film (meaning she's working under the same house as her husband, Mumbai Musical director Kevin Lima, again - Lima also helmed Enchanted):

"My plans are to develop a project at DreamWorks. Right now, I am at the beginning of writing on that project – adapting a children’s book- with my longtime friend Irene Mecchi, with whom I worked on The Lion King and Brave; and on a Lucasfilm project. I can’t tell you which book it is. The project is very different than Brave, but yet has a strong female protagonist. It’s funny with magic and heart."

It all certainly sounds interesting, but it'll be a long time until we see it in cinemas. But that is two exciting announcements for two very talented former Pixarians. Although, it's a shame to see so much great talent leaving the studio, to which Chapman pointedly said "I have no desire to go back there. The atmosphere and the leadership doesn’t fit well with me." You can read the full interview here.

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