Brenda Chapman Talks About “Brave” In “New York Times” Brenda Chapman Talks About “Brave” In “New York Times”

Brenda Chapman Talks About “Brave” In “New York Times”

Brenda Chapman

Now that Brenda Chapman is no longer an employee of Pixar, she is speaking out for the first time about being removed as the director of Brave. This hardly comes as a surprise, but she wasn’t happy with what happened during the production, though she admits to being proud of the results. In a New York Times op-ed, she spoke about the experience:

It has been a heartbreakingly hard road for me over the last year and a half. When Pixar took me off of “Brave” — a story that came from my heart, inspired by my relationship with my daughter — it was devastating. Animation directors are not protected like live-action directors, who have the Directors Guild to go to battle for them. We are replaced on a regular basis — and that was a real issue for me. This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels. But in the end, my vision came through in the film. It simply wouldn’t have worked without it (and didn’t at one point), and I knew this at my core. So I kept my head held high, stayed committed to my principles, and was supported by some strong women (and men!). In the end, it worked out, and I’m very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself, just like Merida, the protagonist in “Brave.”

  • J. Gibbs

    I, uh… huh?

    You know, one of the comments on that article made a pretty solid point on the matter:

    “It seems odd to me that gender is strongly implied as the reason that Brenda Chapman was fired from Brave. After all, it was Pixar that hired Brenda in the first place – she wasn’t forced on them unwillingly. Animation directors are replaced all the time at DreamWorks and Pixar. I imagine the simpler narrative is likely to be the truest: Pixar didn’t like the movie she was making so they replaced her with someone else.

    There are few female animated feature directors it is true, but there are MANY female feature animation producers – the ones that HIRE the directors in the first place. Apparently the glass ceiling doesn’t exist for them.”

    Frankly, the idea that she was removed as director due to her gender smacks of someone bitter over the situation and looking to lash out, however politely.

    Given that I don’t know the entire story, I’m willing to admit that this is entirely conjecture on my part but, all things considered, I’m less inclined to believe that gender was really the deciding factor here.

    Doesn’t help that she seems to think that Lucasfilms is any less a “boy’s club”, or that she’ll be granted any more creative freedom and control than she would have gotten at Pixar. I can’t imagine there’s a lot of leeway given when the majority of your work involves beating a long-molested IP into producing yet another dollar, strictly controlled by the studio’s namesake.

    • Courtney

      When Pixar announced Brave, they sold the film heavily as “Pixar’s first female protagonist and Pixar’s first female director.” Every mention of Brenda Chapman seemed to be paired with the phrase “Pixar’s first female director.” (people were calling them a boy’s club more each year, and they were undoubtedly trying to combat this image) They built her up as something that would make them look good, and when they took her off the film there were clear implications. “The first female director” was being replaced rather than just any director.

      I would love to see this as just another director being replaced- I know it’s true that they’ve done the same in the past. And for all I know, maybe they had an entirely valid reason. But it’s hard to swallow after watching them parade around their new “anti-boy’s club” image for so long and then suddenly go quiet on the issue.

      • Richard

        Well, parading her around as their “first female director” was a little ridiculous, but what would they have to gain from removing her just because she’s a woman? None. In fact, they have to put up with criticism like yours. It wouldn’t make any sense at all.

        Pixar has a history of replacing directors for two reasons.

        1.) Because they can: technology now allows us to make sweeping changes to a film right up until the final prints are struck, and Pixar takes full advantage of this because…

        2.) Pixar’s creative process is “design by committee”, and that will not usually allow a personal creative vision to flourish.

      • Courtney

        Definitely not suggesting that Pixar would gain anything from removing her. They wouldn’t.

        The first comment seemed to be asking “why are you turning her removal into a gender issue??”
        my response is that Pixar turned this into a gender issue when they repeatedly gave her the title “first female director”. They made it into a positive and inspirational gender issue, but a gender issue all the same. They tried to get girls and women excited to see a woman’s personal story for the first time, created at one of the most respected animation studios to boot. And it worked; I promise you there were a lot of women in and around the industry who were excited for this reason.
        And then they removed her, replaced her, and quickly stopped addressing her gender, because at this point it would hurt them. But there was still a circle of women (and most likely men) who hadn’t forgotten what they had just heard, this idea that “Hey look! Pixar’s not a boy’s club, see??”…but who now saw them as even more of a boy’s club than they did in the first place. Didn’t help that Pixar didn’t really comment on the issue, besides vaguely citing “creative reasons”. And it definitely didn’t help that the headlines in the press were things like “Pixar fires first female director.” How can you read something of that nature and NOT feel hopeless about gender issues?

        Brenda Chapman has had a lot of time to think about what happened. As Kazzer brought up below, women who accuse things on institutional sexism are almost always targeted as paranoid and bitter. No doubt Chapman knows this. After reading the full article, I believe that Chapman was worried about the message that had been sent to all the women who had been so hopeful and inspired, and who were ultimately let down. IMO she is speaking to that circle, trying to make this issue inspirational once again by standing strong and speaking about it openly and directly.

      • kazzer

        considering she WAS, as you say, their first female director, clearly it would be hard for Pixar to have a history of replacing female directors before this incident.

      • Glen

        they replaced brad lewis on cars 2.

    • Gary

      Too bad the director who took over made a mess of a film anyway.

  • Schultz!!!!!

    There needs to be some kind of “title IX” for women in animation, as the male-female ration shows obvious discrimination – particularly WRT the director’s job. The animation schools should be subject to loss of any federal student loans or scholarships until half the students are women.

    • Paul N

      Please tell me you’re kidding. Are you seriously suggesting quotas for animation schools?

      • Hoganilly

        Thank you, Paul. There are so many angry ranters in this business these days. Ranters who probably aren’t capable of understand the term ‘Orwellian’.

    • JoeCorrao

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Stay on-topic. Comments are not a place to discuss ideas not directly related to the post.” That means presidential candidates in a Brenda Chapman post.]

    • Tyler K.

      I just finished the animation program at the Savannah College of Art and Design and, by my unofficial count, women were the majority.

      • John S

        Good. Then the trend is changing. Do you know how many women were in my class way back in 1990 at CalARTS? Out of 80 students? 4. Yes. FOUR. What does this mean? Fewer women in creative positions in my generation. It was and still is a problem. Will it be when YOUR generation comes into the business. Yes. Why? Until your classmates filter up through the ranks, the business will still be dominated by men.

      • Well…

        Brenda wants in this article to reach out across her generation and several others to talk to the female student however, she should know that the women at the schools are equally there learning and feeling ambitious. They don’t really need to hear about what sets them apart as women and probably don’t want to be set apart from their male peers. What these young women do need is a strong tradition of animation careers for women that does not involve a slow fade out.

        The 30’s and 40’s is the time that things get complicated for women. Starting a family or not being as cute as they were out of school is when women feel stress of their gender and need each other. Brenda would be more helpful if she reached out to her own generation and helped them to create a tradition of women helping each other not existing as an lone wolf.

  • kazzer

    I’d be much more inclined to believe the whole ‘gender had nothing to do with this’ party line if a) Brenda wasn’t replaced by a director with considerably less experience than her,(maybe pete docter or brad bird) and b) if she wasn’t one of the very small pool of women in top positions in the animation industry (and before anyone considers suggesting that women aren’t interested in those positions or just don’t work as hard as men, consider the amount of ultra-talented female student and independent animators featured every week on CBTV).

    Again though, I wasn’t there, so I can only infer. A lot of commentators seem to be smacking their foreheads in disbelief at the suggestion that all the top men at pixar have some sort of secret late-night meetings designed to put strong ladies in their place. which is absolutely not what is ever being implied by the whole ‘boy’s club’ term. institutional sexism, much like, say, institutional racism, does not require a leadership to be vicious bigots (i certainly don’t think lasseter is one) or even necessarily, all-male (how many times have big companies been accused of hiring a ‘token woman’ to leadership to satisfy diversity standards).

    Institutional sexism (of the kind that MAY very well be at work here, if we’re going to take Brenda at her word) only requires that the pre-existing social and institutional discrimination and inequalities are allowed to go unchallenged and unquestioned. no fair, you cry! does that mean a woman gets to accuse sexism EVERY time she is chastised for not doing a good job, you ask? certainly it is an option, but seeing as a majority of their colleagues and peers often end up labeling them as ‘paranoid’ and ‘bitter’ as a result, I don’t see it becoming a huge social phenomenon.

    • Dr. Teeth

      Kazzer, how does Mark Andrews have less experience than Brenda Chapman? He was Head of Story on both The Incredibles and Ratatouille. If you compare their resumes on imdb Mark Andrews stacks up pretty well against Brenda Chapman. The main difference between Andrews and Chapman is that Andrews so far has not assumed the position of Blessed Martyr.

      • Hank

        The head of story on Incredibles and Ratatouille was Brad Bird.

        Andrews just executed them . That doesn’t make him a director.

      • John S

        Brenda has more experience than Mark because she entered the business in ’87 and Mark entered the business in ’93, Dr. Teeth.
        Also: IMDB is RARELY infallible, so don’t rely on it for anything.

      • John S

        Mark is a great story artist and a gifted story teller, but Hank makes a salient point: On Brad Bird’s movies, the head of story’s job is to insure that Brad’s vision is carried out by the story artists. That is ALL.

      • Arturo

        Hank> I disagree… Brad Bird was the creative force behing the Incredibles, but it was Jan Pinkava who made Ratatouille… he even was the director of such movie, until he was removed and replaced by Bird. (and, by the way, quit to Pixar some months later… the same as Chapman)

  • Sam Logan

    I don’t see anywhere in that piece where Chapman claims to have been fired for being a woman.

    But what she does say is that Hollywood affords few opportunities for women to tell personal stories from a female point of view… and that in animation those options are fewer and even more tenuous because if the studio doesn’t understand what you’re doing, they can replace you and retool your film much more easily than they could a live action world.

    • Recent Grad

      This is a story that deals with feminine issues, and they replaced a female director, the creator of the story, with a man with less experience.

      The thing about having a female protagonist in movies aimed at children is that, while young girls can normally empathize and relate to male protagonists, young boys are less willing to put themselves in a girls shoes. Femininity has such a stigma in our culture – a sign of weakness that men and boys should avoid being associated with. So even though females are NOT a minority, they are certainly treated as such in movies.

      So while Brenda was probably not booted for being a woman, having a man replace her on a project dealing with women’s perspectives, in an industry with a long history of men making “princess” movies that hyperbolize and abstract femininity, it is seen as a blow to women in this industry.

      • Sam Logan

        Agree 100%, well said!

  • Derick

    Before I saw Brave, I had suspicions that Brenda’s severence from the film had a bit to do with internal politics of some kind. Having seen the movie however (it being, in my opinion, Pixar’s first bad movie (I haven’t seen Cars 2)), I get the impression the move was made to salvage a distressed feature, one that, unfortunately Brenda had a significant hand in.

    • John S

      Derick: You don’t know what you are talking about. Brenda’s version of the movie was great, but VERY unconventional. It didn’t fit into any of their boxes. There is a bigger story here that cannot be told due to legalities, but suffice to say, I saw an early screening and it was rough, but really strong. Her removal from the movie was wrongfully done and cruel.

      • Well

        I agree Derick, the film was not up to the usual Pixar standard we’ve come to be spoiled by. It felt flat, dare I say, uninspired?

        So John S., This is an anonymous forum so uh, why not let the rest of us in on the big picture?

      • Rubi-kun

        So, John, how does her original cut compare to what’s on screen now (which she seems to be proud of despite her firing)?

      • John S.

        Out of respect to Brenda and my colleagues at Pixar, I cannot divulge the full story here, and truthfully, I don’t feel the need to. This is only an “anonymous” forum to those who post anonymously. I don’t. My name is next to every post I write because I stand by my words. Everyone knows who I am, and if you don’t, click the link and you can figure it out.
        Now, the 2 central characters and their relationship, that is what remains of Brenda in the film. She is proud of this and had every reason to feel this way. The rest of the film and it’s final execution? That is open to debate.

      • Dokeck

        Man, I would love to see that rough cinematic tho I know it cant be. I havent seen the movie yet and I think I’ll pass since the first news about her getting fired. Maybe for the visuals but that is NOT the movie I wanted to see.

      • John S

        Brenda’s movie was smaller in scope, and more concerned with character. It had an “indie” movie feel. It defied the genre limitations.
        One thing I will say: I know for a fact that the heads of the studio sought to undermine Brenda so that they might have grounds to get rid of her.
        They spoke to and directed the story team behind her back, instituting changes while she was away tending to other business on the film.
        I also know that certain members of the so-called “Brain Trust” never liked the idea of doing a “fairy tale”. I know that Joe Ranf was a champion of the project and Brenda, and that after Joe was gone? Well…that story sort of writes itself, doesn’t it?
        One thing I DO know: the studio thinks that Jessie from Toy Story is a BRILLIANT female character and that their understanding of women in an animated movie begins and ends with THAT character.
        Also: Pixar is an insular environment. Never have I been in a place so impressed with itself and it’s legacy and so assured of it’s own infallibility.
        Wait…no..that isn’t true. I was in such a place.
        1994…Disney..after they released the Lion King.
        Well, we all know what happened THERE, now don’t we?

  • Lib

    That article left me as it found me. I was hoping to learn more about specific details, but I guess those are a matter of opinion and will never be shared with the general audience.

    Also, I don’t know where people are getting the idea that she was fired for being a woman. I don’t think she says that or even tries to imply that. If anything, she’s probably just frustrated because not many women reach the director’s chair.

    • J. Gibbs

      ” To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels. But in the end, my vision came through in the film. It simply wouldn’t have worked without it (and didn’t at one point), and I knew this at my core. So I kept my head held high, stayed committed to my principles, and was supported by some strong women (and men!). In the end, it worked out, and I’m very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself, just like Merida, the protagonist in “Brave.””

      This entire section, however politely and mildly put, is implying that the director’s role was taken away from her because the studio didn’t trust her direction over a man’s, not because they didn’t like the film she was creating. In fact, the only part that doesn’t seem to put her male counterparts in a negative light is left as an afterthought.

      As someone else has already said, if the situations were reversed and a man were to make the same implications, he’d be left to justify himself for his sexist comments.

      While there is clearly cases of institutionalized sexism in the animation industry that desperately needs to be addressed, nothing really tells me that this is one of those situations. Brenda was placed in a position that is commonly a revolving door in animated films for both men AND women, and implying that THIS time it was due to gender still feels like someone feeling frustrated and wanting to lash out a bit (which I’m sure we can all understand).

      • Lib

        The fact that the other person was a man is incidental. They didn’t trust her direction over someone else’s and that’s it.

        What she’s saying is that it made the whole thing especially uncomfortable, but she’s not saying in any way that she was replaced for being a woman. It certainly doesn’t read that way.

    • http://deleted OtherDan

      @Lib, I think what’s more clear is she was very disappointed and affected because it was a very personal story to her. If you were telling a story based on you and your child’s relationship and the “director’s chair” was shifted to someone else (with an entirely different perspective), it would hurt deeply. If anything, she may be guilty of caring too much about the story. Possibly even being too close to the material and loosing sight of the whole. I just hope they put the rough cut in the extra expensive 6 disk, Ultra special 3D Platinum Edition BluRay DVD so we can judge for ourselves if they made the right choice.

  • Elliot Cowan

    I would suggest that the negative comments here are made mostly by boobs who have only the most tenuous involvement in the animation industry.
    Perhaps I am wrong…

    • Hey now

      This is not a professionals-only site. People on this site care about the medium, involved to whatever degree, there will be speculation and opinion. Gender politics have long been a sensitive topic in animation and “Brave” was supposed to represent a turning point. What has happened here is important, not just to professionals, but to the history of the medium.

      These “boobs” are the audiences who actually appreciate high-quality animated films. Your elitist attitude is wasted on individuals who only wish to better the industry any way they can, and discussion is a good place to start.

      That being said, Mr. Industry, maybe you’d like to enlighten us ‘boobs’ with some facts if you’re so “involved” and insulted by our speculation.

      • Elliot Cowan

        I thank you all for making it possible for me to work in this industry by patronising the product we all toil over.
        I don’t thank you for your uninformed opinions about things that you (and myself) know nothing about.
        And that’s Captain Industry, thanks.

      • Hey now

        You’re right. We should all just shut up, take what we’re given, and assume everything behind the scenes is butterflies and rainbows. Oh and everyone stop criticising everything already! There will be NO tolerance of intelligent and analytical thought here.

        And I’m not sure what ‘patronising the product’ has to do with this particular topic. This is about Pixar’s seemingly questionable treatment of their own employees and it’s strong suggestion of gender injustice. There are female creators (you know, the ones who ‘toil’?) watching this, as well as young female artists with interest in the industry. This is IMPORTANT TO THEM.

        There are a lot of topics that could probably go without ignorant speculation on the inner workings of the industry. This is not one of those topics. This is about what it looks like from the outside. And it looks like bs.

      • Elliot Cowan

        Hey Now.
        Drop the hysterics – I’m sure you’ll forget about this in about a day and a half so it’s not worth the effort.

        Here’s the thing.
        Folk can say whatever they like about how they think Pixar may or may not function as a workplace.
        Fact is, unless you’ve worked there you don’t have a clue so you can talk about it all you like.
        And you *should* have an opinion about gender equality in the workplace.
        I didn’t say you shouldn’t.
        I take exception when a mass of people unconnected to the story feel that they are somehow entitled to speak ill of an individual.
        This is what I am talking about.

        I have never worked at Pixar and have never met Brenda Chapman either (beyond Twitter).
        Pixar is, I’m sure a fine place to work if you love their films and Brenda is, according to the folks I know, a very smart, very talented woman.

  • Thad

    It will probably be a few years before anyone is to figure out what exactly is going on at Pixar in many respects. But it is refreshing that Chapman isn’t going the martyr route so common in animation (Thief and the Cobbler, Ren & Stimpy) and that for once people aren’t out to crucify the suits as a rule (because you know, maybe they did have reasonable justification), though the latter is unsurprising given the nature of Pixar’s acolytes.

    What is annoying, and has been for some time, is how Pixar tries to pretend it has an integrity Disney and Dreamworks lack – and they clearly don’t.

    • Dokeck

      ..and then worship Miyazaki’s author focused movies and when someone tries to be personal with their direction, they cut her off. That’s the impression it gives me reading all this comments.
      The fact that it’s a “feminine” story is a double hit I guess.

  • Mary

    Her piece in this article is actually part of a larger debate about the under-representation of women in the media industry as a whole.

    Here are some other interesting articles about this …

    Geena Davis talks about gender imbalance in films –

    Meryl Streep calls for more films for women –

    • Caty

      I don’t know. Streep’s arguments are kind of weird. This thing of “movies for women” is simply retarded, from my POV. That perspective only will make the equality of a man and a woman completely void.

      I’d say just make movies without using stereotypes created more than 50 YEARS AGO. In Monsters Inc. for example there’s this not-so smart-posh girlfriend and this babygirl-cute character. They simply took the sterotype used over and over again on a woman!!!

      Just please, I don’t care if the movie is about butchers or flowers, if there are women please give them a PERSONALITY. Are butchers always men? NO! Are florists always women? NO! of course not.
      Just friggin stop with “Oh I’m hardcore” or “Oh I’m cute”. In Lilo and Stitch, does anyone say anything about “I’m a girl, I’m better than men on being a mother, I’m cool” ? No. It reminds you that it’s difficult to be alone with no parents. And thank god they weren’t every single minute reminding you of that, just like Brave (specially on the mother, ho-hem, she was way too much scared of being a bear, in my honest opinion)
      Mr. Lasetter, if you admire so much Miyazaki, try to learn something from him. He doesn’t throw every single vegetable available into the soup. When Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle) turns into an old woman she reminds you from time to time in a specific part of the movie that she’s old “Thankfully I still have teeth” “I need a stick to walk” On Brave there’s this terrible drama of being a bear over and over again instead of making the story move on :/

      • Mary

        While an ideal of movies made for everyone is nice … this is a business and movies, like any product, are marketed towards specific people in order to maximize profits. In this case, Meryl was talking about movies that were marketed towards women and made a substantial amount of money. If these movies are making that much money, why aren’t more movies of this nature being greenlit? Is it because women are so under-represented in the media industry? It definitely could be a factor.

        This industry has been around for over 100 years and yet women for decades only account for 7-10% of the behind-the-scenes workforce. The amount of women directors that have even been nominated for an Oscar for Directing, I can count on one hand and I don’t even need all of my digits.

        Just food for thought.

  • LazyBoy

    “To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels.”

    I understand what she means, that it’s a story about mother/daughter relationship and it came from her mind, so she feels that a man director is not appropriate, but hey :

    Juste imagine what would happen if it was a man director, making a movie about father and son, says : “To have it taken away and given to someone else, and A WOMAN at that, was truly distressing on so many levels.” He would be certainly called sexist and would have to justify hismelf.

    So, even if I understand her, I think as long as political correctness will prevent men to express just like she did, I think it’s inappropriate to say so.

    • Maybe

      Your example of ‘father and son’ has a very clear masculine element that I don’t think anyone would have a hard time understanding that such a statement would probably not be coming from a place of bitter sexism. It would be meant towards a female creator relating to a father character.

      I would agree that a father-son film should have a male director. Although…now that I think about it, I would honestly be curious to see what a female-directed father-son film would look like.

      Plus there’s history to consider. Men have been at the creative reins of supposedly feminine stories forever. So turn the context around now, it is not at all unfair for a woman to direct a story with predominantly masculine themes. But, sorry, double standards have a purpose. Feminine stories need female creators at the helm. Centuries of subservience has earned that particular privilege.

      My point is, male-directors have had the privilege of dabbling in any genre they like for centuries, regardless of racial, cultural, religious or gender-specific themes. To pout at the idea that a women direct a ‘man’ movie now is just redundant. (Not saying you suggested any of this, just food for thought)

  • Great

    How ’bout more Latinos in film? When was the last time you saw a Honduran director? wtf Pixar?

    Honestly, I dont think it has anything to do with Branda being a woman, or white, or having graduated from calarts, or anything else directly. Animation seems to be an exclusive calarts white male boy club and why begrudge them that?

    Pixar’s a business, they go with the ideas they think will be successful and with people with whom they are more comfortable with. It just so happens the majority of those people are men, and really, why do you care?

    Don’t like it? Make your own film and get over it. You want “equality” go to china you pinkos.

    • Recent Grad

      Except women are NOT a minority, and yet we are always treated as such. And I care because if we dont work for progress, we will never get equality.

      People say feminists in America are obsolete, there is no glass ceiling, we’ve come a long way baby, cant we be happy with what we got? But ‘good enough’ is not what I want for future women, what I want is equality. I want them to be able to achieve, to be able to fulfill their greatest potential, and be treated with the same respect as a man.

      I mean, for Christ sake, we live in a country that gave equal rights and voting rights to minorities before they gave it to women. A minority is president before a woman. Hillary Clinton is made fun of for wearing pantsuits when shes standing at a podium as a politician trying to represent the country. I want equality for everyone, dont get me wrong, but women are 50 percent of the population and we are still treated like some strange minority that should feel lucky we have it so good in this country.

      So yes, it does matter that a woman was booted from directing and replaced by a man with significantly less experience. Apparently he was the safer bet for making good films.

      • eeteed

        Recent Grad said, “…women are NOT a minority, and yet we are always treated as such. And I care because if we dont work for progress, we will never get equality…”

        i agree that women should not be treated as minorities. for example, at the last studio i worked at (back when i worked as an artist) i worked with a female artist. she had recently graduated from college and this was her first job as an artist. she was also arrogant and very untalented. when things got to a point that her shortcomings made her dismissal inevitable she went back to her college and they helped her get a grant. the grant was for $5000, and she could use it to create whatever type of art she wanted. this grant was available only to female artists.
        in a world where women aren’t treated as minorities this type of biased treatment would never happen.

        Recent Grad also said, “..what I want is equality…”

        i also want equality. for example, in a world of equality mega-talented cartoonist and animator milton stein would not have committed suicide after a lifetime of obscurity, and the very untalented (but also very attractive) cathy guisewite would never have found work in the field of cartooning.

      • Shawn

        But this is anecdotal. This is one woman who was arrogant and let go and failed to reach potential. And considering how many dudes I know who have gone the same route, I’d say it has more with being young than it has to do with being a woman. I’ve known multiple people receive grants for projects that had nothing to do with gender or race, so that’s still not indicative of a greater trend.

        What about the women who ARE talented and are still getting hired over men? I’ve got a man’s name and a woman’s portfolio. There aren’t many studios I fit in, and I’ve had to make my portfolio much more masculine in order to get noticed. There is for sure a gender issue in animation.

      • eeteed

        Shawn said “…There is for sure a gender issue in animation…”

        @ Shawn, much thanks for your comment.

        it is true that there is a gender issue in animation … that there are less women than men working in the field, but what i take issue with is:

        1) people who say that there needs to be more women working in animation. i disagree. in my opinion there needs to be more talented artists working in animation. i don’t care about their gender, race, religion, age, sexuality, etc. when you hire people because they are “like minded” instead of talented it will lead to more koffe klatching and less working on animation. i would prefer if the jobs went to the most talented.

        2) people who support more women in animation seem to use this as their main argument:
        women = 50% of our population
        less than 50% of animators are women
        therefore animation is a “boys’ club” and the boys are giving jobs to men that should rightfully go to women.

        let’s try applying this same logic to another creative field:
        men = 50% of our population
        less than 50% of men are beauticians
        therefore the beauty industry is a “girls’ club’” and the girls are giving jobs to women that should rightfully go to men.

        i doubt that anyone would believe that the reason there are fewer male beauticians than female is a conspiracy against men, but people seem to think that this is the ONLY possible reason that there are so few women in animation.

        has anyone actually gotten some facts on this? what is the percentage of women that apply for animation jobs? what is their education level? what is their level of talent compared to male applicants?

        if people could show FACTS that the number of women applicants is equal to the number of male applicants, and that the female applicants have an equal level of education and talent, this would be a SOLID FOUNDATION on which a positive change could be built.

        otherwise, if people are simply going to complain and say things like “i THINK that” and “i FEEL that”, well they aren’t going to have a leg to stand on and things will remain the same.

      • anonaly


        … exactly do you have a woman’s portfolio? I didn’t realize portfolios could be gendered.

        Eeteed: …and you don’t think one of the reasons why more men aren’t training to be beauticians is because our society holds certain beliefs and expectations about men? The kind of beliefs that if a man wants to do something traditionally considered a female job, he’s somehow less of a man?

        Because you know. Girl stuff is less important/inferior to Guy stuff.

        There is also the concept of privilege, which is by virtue of being a particular gender, race, or socioeconomic class, a person enjoys certain perks.

        look at this article that talks about male privilege:

        which is based on this article about white privilege:

        There’s a post on the TAG blog at some point I think in 2010 where someone asked why the number was so low (I think at that point it was actually 24% women) one of the common responses was that women leave for child-rearing.

        I find that an interesting assumption considering that 46% of the full-time American workforce is women. In many high-level jobs (CEO’s, etc) again the percentage of women seems to be holding at 17%. Another common response is less women apply or train for those jobs. When an entire system is stacked in such a way to push a person into or away from certain roles, is it really surprising? (read the privilege articles.)

    • Christina Skyles

      Wow. Please tell me you’re joking. Did you seriously equate gender and racial equality to communism?

      Issues like these matter because a) about 50% of the world is made up of women, and b) white people people do not make up the majority of the world’s population. It’s ridiculous to exclusively make films from a white male perspective when only 36% of the US population is made up of white males.

      Now, I’m not saying that white dudes should stop making movies, because yeah, there have been a lot of great movies done by white dudes! I’m not even saying that Chapman leaving Pixar was a gender issue, because I don’t work at Pixar and I don’t know the inner workings of that system. But to brush off possible discrimination by saying, “Oh, well, that’s how it is!” is foolish. 36% of the American population might not care as much, but for the rest of us it can be a big obstacle.

      I do agree that the best way to solve this issue is to stop talking and make films, though, so… I guess I’ll go do that now. :)

      • John

        White people people?

      • Liesje

        I like how all John and fire back with is “White people people?” Really? Nice one, twit. Was it Christina’s use of facts and statistics that did you in?

        The comments for this post alone show how far we have to go to become a truly equal and unbiased society.

    • anonaly

      Speaking out against a system with institutionalized biases is just as important as going out on making our own films and stories.

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I care because I want to see more films where there are protagonists that happen to be female, rather than their gender or sexuality becoming the central defining trait of who they are as a character. I care because there should be no reason why I should be denied a job or opportunity simply due to the fact I have ovaries and not a penis. (Thankfully in my immediate experience, I have not faced any such discrimination; all of my co-workers are lovely people :)

      To your last suggestion: While it’s easy to say “make your own film”, a full length feature film is an expensive and collaborative process; rather than discussing the issue at hand, the answer dismisses the complaint with an unrealistic solution – so much so that it’s not a solution at all.

      Although I would highly encourage all people to make their own short films, comics, or even write a novel.

    • kazzer

      first of all, lumping all marginalized groups into one big heap, and then wondering aloud ‘why begrudge pixar being a white boy’s club?’ (probably something many white male leaders harmlessly wondered about their companies, schools etc pre civil rights). Jeez man! I hope you’re having fun telling kids to stay off your lawn.

    • Liesje

      “Don’t like it? Make your own film and get over it.”

      You obviously don’t have the slightest idea what goes into making an animated film, short or feature length.

      Although, I get the feeling this was also a failed attempt at humor, so obviously you have no idea what goes into making a good joke either.

  • some thoughts

    Debra Granik, Kelly Reichardt, Niki Caro, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow–there are some amazing directors out there making amazing films. they happen to be women, and they’re mostly making small, personal stories. All of their films combined could have been financed for one $100 million blockbuster and then some.

    heck yes, i’m for women in hollywood. but anytime you involve more money, studios have a very hard time doing anything against the status quo. i’d rather see these talented filmmakers continue making amazing films in their own way, on their own terms, than having to report to any kind of hollywood.

    Catherine Hardwicke went from making small films like “Thirteen,” to directing the commercial blockbuster “Twilight” (also interesting that harry potter, twilight, and the huger games have women authors). And yet Twilight features an extremely weak protagonist, waiting for a man to save her the whole film. Is this what we want when we say we want more women filmmakers? I’m not sure. Myself, I’d like to see more women auteurs, please.

    Just all stuff to think about, I guess. Not trying to troll at all. I just love good movies. it’s harder with animation i guess because budgets are higher, but what Marjane Satrapi did with Persepolis is nothing short of beautiful.

    all that said, more than half of the producers and executives where i work are women. and I would NOT want to mess with them.

    • steve hulett

      As we have pointed out before, 17% of The Animation Guild’s total active membership is female.

      DreamWorks Animation is the studio that has consistently used women as directors, going back to its first release “Prince of Animation.”

      Lots of women in administrative positions at animation studios. Far fewer in creative slots.

  • daniel thomas macinnes

    The larger question in my mind (and feel free to laugh at me if you wish) is…what happened to Pixar’s creativity? Movies like Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and The Incredibles felt fresh, clever and new. They’ve been in a slump ever since…well, around the time Disney bought ’em out. Their last really good movie was Wall-E (Up is good in the first half), and it’s been sequels and retreads ever since.

    As for Brenda Chapman, Hollywood is famous for its short attention span; you’re only as good as your last movie. All she needs is one really great picture, and she’ll be back on top. But no more fairy tale princesses, please.

    • Red Diabla

      What happened to Pixar? They got bought by Disney.

      I thought “Brave” was the best princess movie Disney never made. If Disney hadn’t gone the snarky-sidekick route that MUST be played by a celebrity (I’ll never forgive them for Robin Williams as the genie in “Aladdin” which started that cliche in animation), they might have developed their films differently. And Pixar would’ve stayed as Pixar, instead of becoming the Disney-north they now are.

      As for women in animation or Hollywood in general, here’s a great blog entry by a writer, Pamela Ribon, who discusses a common critique that women get that men don’t:

      I think that’s an interesting cultural observation, and being aware of even “small” stuff like that can go a long way towards getting a little more diverse representation in more productions.

  • some guy

    “How can we get more women in positions of power in Hollywood?…how to get the Hollywood Boy’s Club to give up some of their seats for the ladies?…Maybe we just need to make our own chairs.”

    “Sometimes women express an idea and are shot down, only to have a man express essentially the same idea and have it broadly embraced. Until there is a sufficient number of women executives in high places, this will continue to happen.”

  • Paul Carhart

    I didn’t get that Brenda was upset that she was replaced by a man because he was a man. I got that the story was inspired by her own relationship with her daughter and that was a very personal thing for her as a mother. And then to be replaced by someone who had no possible way of experiencing that same kind of bond (and therefore have the same understanding of the story)… that was what she found distressing. I didn’t take away a women vs. men thing (or vice versa). It just seemed like she felt like no one could tell that particular story as well as she (a mother) could, especially someone who has never been (and can never be) a mother. That was my take anyway.

  • Billy Batz

    The issue is when will Pixar trust their directors vision? Let them make a good film. they are so worried about that first weekend box office they play it safe with cliches, and the audience suffers. Sure they have great animation, they always do, let the artist tell a personal story for once. Pixar would replace Miyazaki too, so don’t feel bad Brenda.

    • John S

      Holy crap…they would kick Miyazaki out in his first week!
      Miyazaki: “I have this idea about a big house that walks around..”
      PIxar guy #2 “Hold on, stop right there. That makes no sense.”
      Miyazaki: “But…you have a movie where cars tal-”
      Pixar Guy #2 “How about it the house is stationary! and People come to it? That makes sense!”
      Pixar Guy #1 “Yes! That makes sense! I mean, how would a house move?”
      M: “Well, because it was enchanted..and had legs..”
      Pixar Guy #1 “Oh..YOU are so YOU!” Howls of derisive laughter from the rest of the Brain Trust.
      Trust me. A meeting like this happened to someone VERY familiar in the animation community. A person who deserved better, just like Brenda.

  • Anonymator

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that they didn’t just hand over the film to any man, but Mark Andrews, of all men. That guy’s like 5 men in one big man body! He exudes “manergy” like a machine gun run amok! It’s like Pixar said: “hmmm, we don’t get this woman-story thing, bring in the MANBOT to BEEF IT UP a notch!”

    • Great

      The story just needed a gratuitous amount of energy in it, man. I think the the triplets really added that, but in my opinion it should have been maybe 400 babies. They balanced it out though with the fact that Merida was good at sports and all the turbo puns.

    • Glen

      That doesn’t mean he’s a good director or storyteller.

      • Anonymator

        Well, he IS a good storyteller, he’s boarded some amazing sequences in film (animated and live-action) and I’ve been in a few of his storyboard lectures. The guy really does “get” visual storytelling. But at the same time, he has the personality of 7 football fields that exploded then spontaneously combusted while on their way to the moon. Not all storytelling has to have that sort of testosterone.

      • Glen

        Good boarding skills don’t necessarily make a good director. In smaller chunks, he’s fine. But he gets lost on the bigger picture.

        Don’t confuse loudness and bravado with good storytelling: John carter.

    • Well…

      Mark Andrews is an awesome and inspired artist.

  • d. harry

    Where did Stanton fit in with all of this?? I saw his name in the credits as a producer on the film.

  • Sage

    Maybe Mark Andrews should’ve spent more time on the story rather than play sword fights with his crew. It’s evident that the film looked pretty but story was mundane and depended too much slap stick shenanigans to keep it entertaining. To make things worse, Kelly McDonald’s voice drove me nuts. I hope Brenda gets another shot at directing. Lucasfilm is lucky to have her. Dreamworks, are you listening?

    • Glen

      Not to mention–the swordplay in the film WAS pretty lame.

  • Dr. Teeth

    And what exactly is Brenda Chapman doing at Lucasfilm anyway? On imdb she’s listed as a “Consulting Producer” on the picture being directed by Kevin Munroe. That’s weird isn’t it? She’s never been a producer before…

    I sure hope that isn’t some BS title because she’s doing to Kevin Munroe exactly what was done to her at Pixar. After all her complaining and public “heartbreak” for her to replace a fellow director would be AWFUL.

    • Glen

      That’s probably what will happen. If not her, someone else. Hopefully, SOON!

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    I liked Brave as a movie. But, I also walked away thinking: what was brave about the movie? I mean, that theme got lost almost entirely. I”m guessing that’s something Brenda was offering, because there wasn’t much “brave” about that movie.

  • SpiUnion

    “Animation directors are not protected like live-action directors, who have the Directors Guild to go to battle for them. We are replaced on a regular basis”

    • Glen

      Live action directors are replaced on a more regular basis.

      • ctrayn

        Because there are more live action movies.

  • I Can’t Draw

    i would be heartbroken if someone took my idea and story that i worked on and that came from the heart and gave it to someone else. I would be pissed off. she is taking it well. that whole brain trust at Pixar is a joke anyway. they need fresh blood over there instead of the same tired old fabby men who think after a decade they still know what is “good story”

    • JoeCorrao

      ya well the marketplace will dictate what they do..mediocre movies will hurt profits and then they will make a change.

  • Anim2

    Well at least we don’t have to hear about Brenda being a martyr for women anymore. At least for a little while

    • John S.

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

      • Hank


  • Steven M.

    It’s certainly bad to have your movie taken away from you and replace by someone who doesn’t understand the essence of it.

  • Sam

    I would like to see what the original script was at least. I liked Brave and I saw the mother-daughter relationship as an interesting one, and I’m sure Brenda pushed it further.

    But one could see that it had been developed by different people. The awful cauldron scene that was like calling a phone marketer jolted me out of the film.

  • Roberto González

    While I will like to know more about Brenda’s version and also about other projects that were changed at Pixar (of course American Dog is still an interesting subject) I’m glad she still likes the results.

    Since I couldn’t make it to the talkback ,cause the film aired in Spain much later, I must say I don’t quite get the ‘mixed’ reviews in comparison with the overwhelmingly good reviews of other Pixar films (minus the Cars franchise).

    Was it a perfect film? No, but very few Pixar films (and very few films in general) are perfect. It’s still a pretty good film. Some plot points could have been explored a little more, or could be better explained. Even the story could have been totally different and maybe more epic or more interesting. But what we got is still a very well animated film with good characters and believable reactions from all of them. And I thought both the emotion and the humor felt more natural than they feel in other Pixar films. Especially the emotion doesn’t feel overdone, or too sappy, something that happens usually in recent Pixar movies.

    I think people are confusing simplicity with shallowness. I actually kind of liked the ‘small’ nature of the story, based mainly around the six members in Merida’s family.

  • Joe

    Brave definitely felt like the characters were supposed to be in a different, more serious and character oriented movie, that Pixar unfortunately changed to form their bad habits. But I wonder if I would’ve liked the original any better because I didn’t feel the Mother-daughter relationship in the movie at all. It was generic and only scratched the surface of what could have been a really heartwarming and memorable movie.

    I hope Brenda the best on her new projects.