“Boats” Explains How Animation Blockbusters Are Made

Is there anything more worthy of lampooning than bottom line-feeding studio executives unapologetically infecting a once-trusted movie studio with their white-collar smarm and misguided enthusiasm? In Boats, a group of suits brainstorm a new CGI franchise while spoofing committee thinking and corporate sycophancy. The video, written and directed by Justin Dec, takes creative liberties with its portrayal of how an animation studio works, but the results of the meeting certainly ring authentic.


  • Dopey ain’t justa dwarf.

    Prophetic.

  • Elana Pritchard

    That was hilarious.

  • Lame

    Eh. Easy target. And not that funny.

    If you’re going to satirize something, at least be smart. Movies like Cars and Planes don’t use “product placement like the sponsors of Nascar” — the characters ARE the product placement. Disney makes money selling Lightning McQueen and Dusty Crophopper merch, not by partnering with Valvoline.

    Also, Disney Animation was never about “just making movies with heart.” Maybe the director of this short was too young to recognize the crass materialism of 80s Disney, but the studio (and EVERY studio) always existed to make money, not just tell stories. Even Walt was a businessman. It’s naive to think otherwise.

    • SarahJesness

      The skit here isn’t saying that money should be ignored. It’s saying that people shouldn’t make movies ONLY with money in mind. Yes, Walt was a businessman, but I don’t think he sat around trying to design characters based on what would sell more merchandise. He made good movies, so that the movies themselves would make money. When you make a movie with only merchandise in mind, you get a cliche piece of crap.

      • Rachel Gitlevich

        Walt’s business genius was in the crazy risks he took pushing his company, and the ballsy moves of making exclusive deals with up and coming technology companies. Notice how colored animation was around for longer than colored films?

    • Kero

      I think you have an anchor up your ass my good Sir. Do you need help removing it?

    • Submarines’ better!

      I don’t think you needed to point out that Cars didn’t REALLY use product placement, it’s a caricature.

      -”””Disney animation was never about “just making movies with heart.”””

      I just watched a UB Iwerks Cartoon…
      It was about making the audience laugh, smile, have fun, enjoy themself at the theatres. Walt worked with the best and has respect for the artform.

      Maybe “Not just tell stories”, but not just make money neither… can we agree on that?

      Anyway, in the end, the audience is boss. I don’t go to the theatre when I can tell just by the trailer that the movie has been greenlighted purely on a business decision/on a pitch probably similar to the one in the short film above.

      I wish more people boycott those movies. Just because your kid want to or just because you are in the animation business, doesn’t mean you need to see Shrek 4 à tout prix. Just sayin’

      Longue vie à l’animation!

    • Meredith

      Re: Product placement. Wreck it Ralph was full of it. Nesquik-sand, anyone?

  • PBS Kid

    That was fun. But uugghh I hated the “quirky mischief” music — sounded like it was straight out of Wishbone or something…

  • Tavoman

    so you are telling me this is not how Planes was pitched?!

  • Cindy Gagnon

    That was sad…

  • Grady Williams

    Oh my goodness, this is good stuff. Clever writing.

  • https://vimeo.com/channels/wharton Brett Wharton

    I’d be shocked if there aren’t already a couple “Boats” franchises in preproduction right now. 2015.

  • Gabriel Schleifer

    I’m an animation student at School of Visual Arts, and one question I get asked a lot is “What kind of animations do you wanna do?” My response is always “Good ones.”

    • Chris

      Yeah sure, but you can do good animation on a lot of different productions. Cheap and expensive ones. Good is relative. Besides, it is easy to have a high-brow attitude towards the industry while you are in school. But once you are out, you need a job to pay the bills and buy food.

      • Rachel Gitlevich

        I second that, hahaha. Oh the things I’ve worked on. But they lead to bigger and better projects. Baby steps!

  • Andy

    That was fantastic

  • Toonio

    The resemblance is uncanny. To the point the Negative Nancys that try to salvage the project are conveniently moved to other low profile endeavours.

  • SarahJesness

    Taking all bets: When do you guys think a “Boats” movie will be released?

    • d. harry

      As far as I have heard there is a Ships movie coming soon from Disney/Pixar.

    • fbt

      hmmm, interesting question i was actually thinking about it’s sequel

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    “Make money, money” indeed.

  • Ben

    Wait hold the fuck up. Is that Gerry from Parks and Recreation?

  • jkg

    Reading the headline I really believed for a second that it was real…

  • Pedro Nakama

    I’ve been in conference rooms at Disney. They look exactly like that.

  • Teek

    Yes, this issue regarding the exploitation of the animated movie market is an important hot topic, but can we all take the time to acknowledge how drop-dead gorgeous the redhead is?

  • Skip

    Cars, Planes, and now Boats, this is obviously Disney’s next move. Someone needs to show this video to John Lasseter, Before the Disney actually green lights it.

    • Barrett

      I’m sure it’s making the rounds in Disney and Pixar, though it may be doing so in an under-the-radar way. I’m pretty sure at this point Lasseter doesn’t care about criticism surrounding Cars/Planes/Boats/Whatever. He sees that universe as a sure-fire money maker that also offers a chance for some gag writing and new animation & rendering software development. Then the money and practice generated by those endeavors goes towards more “worthy” films.

      If it really were that reliable, it would almost be worth it. Kind of like actors who love to do acclaimed indie films, but in between do stupid blockbuster movies for the payday. That way, they can feel comfortable settling for relative peanuts just to have a chance to work with some quirky or low-budget director whose project interests them as an actor.

      • Crispy Walker

        I love the point you make here about how it might actually be worth doing if the gross potential was as reliable as they make it out to be. The problem lately with the bigger animation studios like Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and even the newcomer Sony, is that they’re spending all their money on those cash-grabs, and not reinvesting any of it into making even a small indie-type movie or more serious piece; it’s just cash-grab after cash-grab. You can make a movie like Cars when it’s bookended by The Incredibles and Ratatouille, but the problem comes when you start just shitting out franchise film after franchise film and there’s no meaty nails tapped in along the way to hold the whole house from sagging.

  • Roberto Severino

    Excellent satire! It explains so much.

  • Cheese

    Thus Titanic sinks again.

  • George Comerci

    This got me “boatloads” of laughs xD

  • MaskedManAICN

    Even with this mockery, I’m sure Disney will still make “Boats”. It’s all very funny and very sad.

  • Jason Cezar Duncan

    No, Disney/Pixar isn’t going to make a “Boats” movie. They’ll make a “Trains” movie!

  • Richard Bailey

    Very well done, but painfully real

  • bob

    I feel like the people who don’t get this don’t work in animation. This is hardly a parody.

  • Jason Cezar Duncan

    Oh wow XD