Pixar president Jim Morris discusses Wall-e and how it relates to the studio’s short films
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When he joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2005, Jim Morris did so to produce Andrew Stanton’s upcoming sci-fi feature Wall-e, the story of a lonely robot who finds love on a trashcovered Earth. Morris’ experience at Lucasfilm, where he produced VFX for numerous sci-fi features, allowed him to help Stanton realise his vision for the film. “Andrew wasn’t particularly experienced in live action,” he explains, “but he had this interest in trying to introduce the feel of cameras and lenses from the 70s.” Morris was able to use his technical understanding of liveaction filmmaking to emulate the style of films like Star Wars and Blade Runner.
With 39 dialogue-free minutes, Wall-e has much in common with Pixar’s early short films, such as Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy. “It’s not a film that relies on dialogue to tell its story,” adds Morris. “I’ve always liked films where you can turn off the sound and you still know what’s going on.” Wall-e’s first act and the majority of its second act feature predominantly physical interactions between Wall-e and his new friend EVE. Pixar’s animators relished the challenge of telling a story through pantomime and physicality.
“It forces you to get a little more pure in your storytelling and cinematic arts,” Morris continues. “In some ways it was an outgrowth of the explorations they were doing in visual storytelling and pantomime,” Morris continues. “It tied in to all the things I liked in films and aspired to do. The storytelling and so much of the emotion comes through in the film’s visual characteristics.”