The An­i­ma­tor

Richmond Hill Post - - Inspire - BY NANCY BEIMAN SHERI­DAN PRO­FES­SOR

The first woman to di­rect a Pixar short with her film Bao

For an­i­ma­tion stu­dents, sto­ry­board­ing is an in­ter­me­di­ate process they need to learn to fin­ish a film. Domee Shi’s work stood out in my first story class at Sheri­dan in 2008. For one thing, her drafts­man­ship was out­stand­ing — the re­sult of learn­ing to draw at age five with her father Shi Li, an out­stand­ing painter and ed­u­ca­tor.

As the class went on, Shi con­tin­ued to im­press me. But when it came time to put to­gether the fi­nal story reel, I was a bit dis­cour­aged when she told me that she was mak­ing a story about two stu­dents. It seemed so or­di­nary. The fi­nal prod­uct, how­ever, was any­thing but. Shi de­vel­oped a hate/love story be­tween a cou­ple that gets their hair stuck to­gether with chew­ing gum. The plot builds un­til they are air­borne with a flock of birds and cats stuck to peanut but­ter that was sup­posed to get the hair “un­stuck.” The act­ing and story were so crazily orig­i­nal that it be­came part of her port­fo­lio that landed her an in­tern­ship at Pixar, which turned into a full-time job.

Shi con­tin­ues to de­velop com­plex char­ac­ters in her work at Pixar. Her short film

Bao is a love/hate re­la­tion­ship be­tween an over­pro­tec­tive mother and her child, us­ing a dumpling as a fan­tas­tic sur­ro­gate. It pro­vides a shock­ing twist mid­way and ends in a mov­ing sur­prise. Shi suc­ceeds amaz­ingly with Bao, and her up­com­ing projects, which now in­clude a fea­ture film, will con­tinue to sur­prise au­di­ences. I’m so proud to see her bring a fem­i­nine per­spec­tive to Pixar and be­come the sec­ond woman to di­rect a fea­ture film there. She will do them good.


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