Study Guide

Toy Story Director

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John Lasseter

In the late '70s, John Lasseter was just a student at the California Institute of the Arts when he produced two animated shorts that caught the eye of Walt Disney Studios.

Lasseter was quickly hired as an animator, but then unceremoniously fired a few years later for attempting to promote the benefits of computer-generated animation and stepping on some toes in the process. True story. (Source)

Luckily, Lasseter managed to land a job at Lucasfilm (you know those guys who made the Star Wars movies) and start making computer-animated shorts. Eventually, Lucasfilm was forced to sell off their computer graphics division (which was called Pixar) and Steve Jobs (you may have heard of him, too) ended up becoming the majority shareholder in the company. Yes, we know, it's a lot of famous people for one paragraph, but that's how it happened.

Eventually, John Lasseter would direct, animate, and produce an animated short called Tin Toy at Pixar, and end up winning an Academy Award for it. All in a day's work. Suddenly, Disney came knocking again. They really wanted Lasseter to come back to work for them.

But John Lasseter felt pretty loyal to the folks at Pixar…probably because they'd never fired him. When Disney couldn't woo Lasseter back over to their side, they agreed to make movies with Pixar instead. The first one, Toy Story, would be directed by John Lasseter. And the rest is kind of history.

John Lasseter would go on to executive produce on all of Pixar's awesome films and personally direct A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars. It's not a shabby resume at all. Eventually, Disney welcomed him back as the Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

We're guessing that felt amazing.

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