Regardless of how many times I attend a red carpet event, they always end up being awe-inspiring. They definitely make me feel glitzy and glamorous too. I get to dress up and snap photos, rub elbows with other amazing bloggers, and see premieres of fantastic films. An additional perk I especially enjoy is getting to interview the brains behind short films such as Sanjay’s Super Team featured on the newest Pixar film The Good Dinosaur.
Sanya’s Super Team was created by accomplished artist Sanjay Patel. Sanjay has been with Pixar for over 20 years originally only focused on traditional animation art. Slowly he began exploring and gaining experience with South Asian art. He eventually began publishing books based upon his reconnection with his culture. Those books and artwork caught the eye of John Lasseter, President of Pixar. Mr. Lasseter was interested in Patel featuring his works and culture in an animated short.
Patel initially resisted the idea, he was concerned with bringing his heritage, something so personal, with him to work. He spoke with his father who gave him this sage advice: He said “It was my duty to at least try. Win or lose. That doesn’t matter. That’s not part of the equation Sanjay, but is your duty to at least try.”
Patel knew his father was right and began work on the new short. He drew upon his own experiences to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop culture clashes with his father’s traditions. While Sanjay’s world revolves around cartoons and comics, he rebukes his father’s attempts to draw him into traditional Hindu practice. Although he initially resists, Sanjay’s reluctance subsides as he’s taken on an adventurous journey allowing both father and son to eventually gain a new perspective each can embrace.
Giving a bit of insight on how he developed the story he said:
The original concept I pitched to John was about a little boy in India that was kind of ignoring the cultural stories that were carved on the temples all around them. He had his nose buried in a Western style super hero comic and the short is about the boy appreciating his culture and then John asked, “Well where were you born? Where were you raised?” I told him, “No I was raised in Whittier or in the San Bernadino. A little bit of both in Southern California.” I told him how I spent every morning with my dad and his rituals and my rituals and he really connected with both concepts. The first note from John was “Sanjay just tell your story about you and your dad.” “If you just tell that as honestly as possible people will connect to it.” I just can’t diminish John’s support and his stewardship, he just made it so authentic and so true. He gave me permission to say things that I wouldn’t say otherwise because I think growing up in this culture I was always so afraid of exposing my identity, my parents identity, my parents community. I think my normal was always to just try to fit in and so it took John Lassiter to say to me, “No Sanjay your story, your parent’s story has value here. You have permission to tell it.” I’m super grateful.
Sanjay’s Super Team is directed by Sanjay Patel and produced by Nicole Paradis Grindle. Both wanted to find a new approach. Nicole stated her goal was “going for something that was epic and was supposed to represent enlightenment and what’s hard is most of the films that Pixar makes are in somehow part of the real world.” Nicole also used other aspects of the real world in Sanjay’s Super Team. She asked crew members to have their children draw pictures that would be used in the short. She said “We asked our crew members kids to do the drawing and they took it really seriously. They have parents who work at Pixar and they were like, “What! I can have my artwork in the film?” They all did their artwork and brought it in and we did our best to get them all in there. So that was fun.”
Something that has always stood out to me in Pixar animated shorts is how few words there are. Apparently other people have questioned this too and I finally have an answer! Patel revealed that it is a Pixar tradition to allow the pure art of animation and visual storytelling to paint the picture. There is a bit of dialogue though in the TV as well as when Sanjay and his father speak at the end. When asked what he thought of his son’s work, Patel’s father said “Yes, it’s very good”. And I agree!
It was such a pleasure to meet with Sanjay and Nicole, and to hear Sanjay's story. I love that Disney Pixar pushed him to do something so REAL and so authentic - it's a personal story and that really shines through in this amazing short!
Now, Sanjay's Super Team is a short that you can ONLY see when you go see Disney Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, so go see it in theaters NOW! It's an awesome movie!
Get Social with The Good Dinosaur!
Like THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarTheGoodDinosaur
Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thegooddinosaur
Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Instagram: https://instagram.com/thegooddinosaur/
Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/disneystudios/the-good-dinosaur/