×

Pixar’s Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But it was also a place to play around and see what you could do.”

Docter, who is now chief creative officer at Pixar and the director and/or writer of some of its biggest hits, has come a long way from those days and this award has touched him deeply because his time at CalArts meant so much.

“Growing up, the land of Disney and Warner Bros. and all the movies seemed so far away,” he said. “Coming to CalArts was like being adopted by the animation family. It was a place where we got exposed to all this information. We got to meet people doing the kind of work we all wanted to do. And it was a collection of like-minded people from around the country who got to mind-meld and share information. I still get to work with most of the people I went to school with, so it’s a pretty meaningful place.”

Docter also touched on his history with Pixar and of coming full circle with the upcoming release of “Toy Story 4.” When he graduated in 1990, he went right to work at Pixar and one of his first projects was working on the script and as an animator for the original “Toy Story.”

“It feels like it was yesterday, but also like it was 100 years ago. It’s pretty weird that almost 25 years later there’s going to be another chapter.”

Docter says that it feels like no time has gone by since then at all. “Sometimes it still feels like I just got out of school,” he said. “In fact, I’ll make that slip a lot of times and tell my wife, ‘Bye honey! I’m going to school, uh, I mean work.’ I kind of still feel like it’s just an extension of CalArts, in a way.”

Docter was honored Saturday night alongside Los Angeles artist Henry Taylor and REDCAT’s founding executive director, Mark Murphy, who is exiting the post after 17 years to focus on curatorial work throughout the world.

Taylor was given the REDCAT Award, which goes to individuals who exemplify the talent and vision that defines and leads the evolution of contemporary culture. Taylor is best known for his narrative works that capture African-American urban life. In addition to painting, he works in sculpture and film. He received his bachelor’s of fine art from CalArts in 1995.

Tim Disney, who co-chaired the gala alongside Karen Hillenburg, praised Docter and Taylor. “They’re both amazing and very different kinds of artists,” he said.

Pete Docter is an exemplar of the type of animation talent that comes out of CalArts,” Disney said. “People who have the technical skills, but really, at their core, are master storytellers. They create things that communicate to immensely vast audiences. That’s an unbelievable thing.”

Disney hailed Taylor’s talent as well. “He’s exactly the type of artist we want to be associated with, that we want to bring in as faculty and as students. We’re blessed to have him here tonight.”

The gala was emceed by writer, performer and comedian Kristina Wong. The evening also featured a performance by John Kelly, a choreographer, theater artist, writer, vocalist, filmmaker, dancer, visual artist and more. The event was held at the REDCAT Theater in downtown L.A.

The gala raised $621,000 to support REDCAT’s interdisciplinary programming, and to create opportunities for local and international artists.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jacobs Ladder Movie 2019

    Film Review: 'Jacob's Ladder'

    It’s understandable that someone would want to remake “Jacob’s Ladder,” Adrian Lyne’s 1990 head-trip thriller about a Vietnam veteran haunted by fragmentary nightmare visions. I was far from alone in finding the original to be an overwrought but rather thin “psychological” horror film that was more punishing than pleasurable. And it wasn’t exactly a hit, [...]

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

  • 'Weathering With You' Heads for $100

    'Weathering With You' Heads for $100 Million Box Office Haul

    Makoto Shinkai’s animated romantic drama “Weathering with You” passed the JPY10 billion ($94 million) mark in Japan on Wednesday, according to an announcement by distributor Toho. This makes it the tenth-highest earning Japanese film of all time. Since its release on July 19 on 448 screens in 359 complexes, the film has racked up 7.52 million admissions. The [...]

  • Burn review

    Film Review: 'Burn'

    There’s more smoke than fire in “Burn,” a reasonably promising single-location thriller that never quite settles on what it wants to be — a straight-up suspense piece, twisty black comedy, oddball character study, etc. “All the above” would be a tall but not impossible order to pull off. The problem is that writer-director Mike Gan’s [...]

  • Rounds

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'Rounds'

    Five features (plus a scattering of documentaries) into his career, leading Bulgarian writer-director Stephan Komandarev has resisted cultivating a clear thematic or stylistic throughline to his oeuvre. Yet his latest, the overnight police patchwork “Rounds,” feels surprisingly close to quintessential, pulling as it does plot points, structural models and tonal switches from his previous films [...]

  • Travis ScottWireless Festival, Finsbury Park, London,

    Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix Documentary Reveal, Pop-Up in Houston

    Travis Scott just revealed his new Netflix documentary in the most organic way possible: a social media post to his 18.5 million followers on Instagram. The photo consisted of him holding a series of VHS tapes, which turns out to be the trailer for his forthcoming documentary on Netflix titled “Look Mom I Can Fly.” [...]

  • Overcomer

    Film Review: 'Overcomer'

    No matter the setting or circumstances, the solution to every dilemma found in Christian Evangelical films is getting closer to God. That certainly holds true with regards to “Overcomer,” the latest bit of bigscreen proselytizing by writer-director-star Alex Kendrick (“War Room,” “Courageous”). The story of a high school basketball coach who’s forced to take over [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content