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Lyft Picks Up Oscar-Winning Animated Short Director John Kahrs for 7-Minute Toon to Hail Its Drivers

John Kahrs, who won an Oscar for his 2013 animated short “Paperman,” has gotten into the driver’s seat on a new project with the ride-share company Lyft.

Kahrs has directed the animated short film “June,” a co-production between Lyft and Broad Reach Pictures, with design and animation by Kevin Dart’s Chromosphere and scored by award-winning composer Christophe Beck (“Trolls,” “Frozen”). In addition to Beck’s score, the seven-minute film features the original song “Moving,” by one-time Lyft driver Sir the Baptist, who is now a recording artist.

“June” premieres today, Wednesday, Dec. 14, as part of Lyft Driver Appreciation Day. In addition to “pink carpet” events for the film to be held in Los Angeles and Chicago, the company will match tips each driver receives for the day as a thank you to its 315,000 drivers. Maximum match amount per tip is $5, for a maximum Lyft matching of $20 per driver during the 24 hour period.

“June” follows the inspiring story of a lonely woman who finds new purpose as a Lyft driver. The story comes from an idea by Lyft Creative Director Ricardo Viramontes, based on the experiences of real Lyft drivers and passengers.

“As John and I read through countless stories, we realized there was a strong common theme of people coming together through the Lyft experience,” says Viramontes.

“Ricardo brought the story to me as a very loose sketch of an idea. ‘Could we tell the story of a woman who starts driving for Lyft, and it changes her life and transforms her connection to her community?'” explains Kahrs.

Animation felt like the right medium to tell this story, Viramontes says. “A lot of what happens in the car is serendipitous and special for each driver and passenger, and with live-action, it can be hard to believe it’s true. There’s something really magical about animation that allows you to really get the core essence of the story.”

And story is important to Lyft as a company, Viramontes explains. “We believe in storytelling as a organization. It’s part of our throughline to take something like transportation that isn’t usually celebrated through storytelling, and create more work along these lines to celebrate drivers and other things about Lyft that make us unique,” he says.

Kahrs credited the unique look of “June” to Kevin Dart’s design. “I got really excited when I saw what Kevin had been doing over the last year or so. It was the perfect thing at the perfect time to stumble across,” says Kahrs. “He has this style that really doesn’t resemble hand-drawn. It feels more like a moving illustration. There’s a flatness to it, but there’s also photographic dimensionality.”

And that played perfectly into “June’s” story. “I feel like the idea of transportation is something that’s always changing,” says Kahrs. “This story of this one driver is a journey that takes you on a tour of our relationship with transportation, of matching the fantastic and the mundane together. It’s about people driving around in a car, but it’s also about the connections these drivers and passengers can have with each other.”

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