For the First Time, a Pixar Short Film Will Star Filipino-American Characters
Just a few days after Darren Criss’ win at the Golden Globes, Hollywood took another step forward in recognizing its Filipino-American artists. This time, it’s courtesy of one of the largest animation studios in the world.
Earlier this month, Pixar launched SparkShorts, a new program that the company describes as “indie filmmaking inside Pixar.” It’s meant to shed light on the various artists in Pixar’s team by allowing them to create, produce and promote their own Pixar shorts. (Those are the 10-minute animated films you see right before the main Pixar movie in cinemas.)
One of those shorts, Float, was written and directed by Bobby Rubio, a Filipino-American animator who has worked as a story artist and storyboard artist on several Pixar films including Up, Inside Out, and most recently, The Incredibles 2. His IMDb page also shows credits in Disney movies such as Tarzan and Hercules as well as in Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
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But he’s sticking to his roots for this project, as Float will be the first Pixar animation that will star Filipino-American characters.
“I am proud to tell our stories,” tweeted Rubio, who in the same tweet revealed that Float will feature the first Pixar-animated Filipino characters. “I know what it means to see our culture represented on screen!”
While Float is an important milestone for Filipino-American representation in Western animation, this isn’t the first time a Filipino has worked on a Pixar film. In fact, Rubio worked with two other Filipino Pixar animators—who dub themselves as “Pixnoys”—in The Incredibles 2, namely set artist Nelson “Rey” Bohol and set designer Paul Abadilla, who both have several animation credits to their name.
Bohol is responsible for what is probably the most recognizable inclusion of Filipino culture in a Pixar movie to date—the bahay kubo or nipa hut in the 2003 film Finding Nemo. Meanwhile, Abadilla worked as a set designer on its sequel, Finding Dory, as well as on several other more recent Pixar movies like Cars 3 and Monsters University.
Other known “Pixnoys” include Ronnie del Carmen, who worked as a co-director for Inside Out; and Gini Cruz Santos, the supervising animator of Coco.
No release date for Float has been revealed, but the first three short films under the SparkShorts program will premiere on January 18 at the El Capitan Theatre. These three shorts—Purl, Smash and Grab and Kitbull—will also be launched on YouTube this February.