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Oscars: 'Our peers in live action film don't understand what we do,' says Lee Unkrich

February 23, 2011 | 11:30 am

Toy story 3 
Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross busted open Hamm the Piggy Bank to promote “Toy Story 3” in the best picture Oscar race. And although Pixar’s latest seems likely to take home the animated feature prize, it appears to have made little headway in the broader category.

“Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich isn’t exactly surprised by the showing and doesn’t see voters’ prejudices toward animation changing anytime soon.

“It’s not only that people think of animation as just for kids,” Unkrich says. “Frankly, a lot of our peers in live-action film don’t understand what we do. They don’t understand how [animated] films are made. Once we take the time to explain our process, they understand that, yes, we’re working from the same tool box and that every aspect of making our films has a corollary in live action.”

Those looking for that precise education need only to cue up the bonus feature on the “Toy Story 3” Blu-ray that takes viewers step by step through the making of the film’s opening western sequence.

“It’s still mysterious to most people how our movies are made,” Unkrich says. “I bump into producers who say, ‘I know what a director does in live action, but what do you do exactly?’ I don’t know what they think I do, but if you see the movie up there on screen, there are millions and billions of little choices made to get that film up there.”

“But then, I still run into people who say they haven’t seen ‘Toy Story 3’ because they haven’t found a kid to take,” Unkrich adds. “So, yes, we have a long way to go.”

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: "Toy Story 3." Credit: Disney; Pixar


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