Pixar has launched a new internal unit dedicated to experimental storytelling and creating shorts without executive oversight. Other aims of the program are to explore new creative visions and increase opportunities at the studio.
The existence of the division was revealed in a listing of talks set to take place this August at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. According to the description of the panel, which is entitled “Smash and Grab: Off-The-Rails Filmmaking at Pixar,” a group of Pixar artists will highlight the studio’s “six-month journey of creating seven-minute shorts, with limited resources, amidst the backdrop of a busy studio, juggling multiple feature productions.”
The first film from the experimental unit is called Smash and Grab, and it’s directed by Brian Larsen, who was head of story on the studio’s recent Oscar-winning short Piper and story supervisor on Brave. No details about its contents have been revealed, but it’s probably a safe bet that it won’t be anything like this other recent piece of animation that shares the same title.
Shorts have played a key role in Pixar’s development since the company’s earliest days – it’s a history that I explored when I worked with them on the book The Art of Pixar Short Films – so it’s exciting to hear that the studio is again looking to the short-form format as it experiments with alternative approaches to story development and production pipelines. I look forward to seeing the results of these efforts.