Thursday night I had a rare opportunity to go to a screening of the Australian animated feature film Mary & Max at Pixar Studios. It is complete Mecca to any animator or animation fan!
Pixar invited 50 ASIFA members to attend the screening and I managed to nab a spot. ASIFA is the San Francisco chapter of the Animation Association. The guard at the gate printed out a visitor's pass for me, I parked, and then walked to the main building.
As I walked to the front entrance, I saw yoga mats on the ground, people doing tai chi over the the left, a group beginning their jog, and a bunch of people Barbecuing in the front. A very nice security person held the door open for me and I became really excited. The inside had beautiful hard wood floors with Pixar paraphernalia all over. On the left side was a cute little eatery/cafeteria:
There were figures from Cars & Monsters Inc greeting you at the entrance.
On the right side was the company store. Sadly it closed two hours before I arrived. Maybe next time I'll be able to buy a fun sweatshirt. As I continued, I came across the game room where people were playing air hockey. They had a foosball table and some video games as well. This definitely looked like a fun place to work. People borrowed Razor scooters at the security desk to get around faster.
I couldn't help taking a photo of a cool UP marketing sign that I hadn't seen.
The theater was across the building, opposite the entrance. It was big, plush, and very red. I didn't see anyone I recognized so I picked a seat towards the center. The guy next to me was on his iPhone the entire time while we waited for the film to start. Some ASIFA members sat behind me so I chatted with them until the Director, Adam Elliott was introduced. One special design of the theater was when the lights went out. The red light that was being projected on the screen went out and a cricket soundtrack came on as it darkened. White lights twinkled in the ceiling and then a shooting star went across it. What a surprise!
Mary & Max is an incredible feature film animation. I really enjoyed its dark humor. Mary is a lonely little girl growing up in Australia and she decides to write to a person she finds in the New York phone book. She writes to a man named Max and asks him a lot of random questions. The art direction and story line are incredible. It is definitely one of those movies that I hope to see at least 2-3 more times to catch all of the nuances thrown in by the incredibly talented film crew.
There was a Q&A session directly after the screening and then I had a chance to meet Adam and tell him how incredibly powerful his color choices were. What a night!
I befriended a security guard and found out that there was a concept artwork section that I could view. I spent quite a while admiring how talented the conceptual artists are. I wish I could make such beautiful work with gouache. It really makes me want to take some painting classes.
My favorite sketch done by two artists was Russel's wilderness explorer patches. Some of the more memorable ones were panhandling, 2d animation, lawn mowing, and talk to the hand badges.
As I was leaving, I realized I was in such a rush to go to the screening that I walked right past the desk lamp and ball without even noticing their significance. I'm sure if you've seen any of Pixar's older material, you've seen this short. Another member of ASIFA was sweet enough to offer to get a photo of me with Luxo Jr.
I was on such a high as I drove home. Pixar Studios was everything magical I had imagined and then some. I hope that someday I can go back and go on the full tour. If anyone knows someone, you know I would be forever indebted to you. ;)