Director’s Chair: Brad Bird

by Tony Cogan · July 2, 2018 · Director's Chair, Uncategorized · 2 Comments

Deadline: 28th July 2018

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Hello everyone, it’s time to announce the director that will be highlighted for July this year and, for the release of Incredibles 2, I thought it was time to cover the films of Brad Bird.

Now Bird, like many of his fellow filmmakers at Pixar, learnt his trade at the California Institute of the Arts after being awarded a scholarship to study there by Disney, after getting mentored by Milt Kahl, one of the Nine Old Men. Following that, Bird did some work as an animator for Disney on The Fox and the Hound, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Mickey’s Christmas Carol and The Black Cauldron, alongside doing some non-Disney work on The Plague Dogs. However, Bird ended up leaving Disney shortly after and made his way to TV. He got his first big sense of exposure through work on the first 8 seasons of The Simpsons, acting as a creative consultant, as well as helping to fully establish the characters of Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob through directing the episodes Krusty Gets Busted and Like Father, Like Clown. After doing some other TV work on Rugrats, King of the Hill and The Critic, Bird pitched his idea for an adaptation of Ted Hughes’ book The Iron Man to Warner Bros, leading to him directing The Iron Giant. Now The Iron Giant is now considered a mainstay of modern animation but it was a box office disaster when it first came out due to poor marketing.

Even though The Iron Giant was a box office disappointment, the critical success of the film led to Bird pitching his idea for a superhero film to Pixar, leading to The Incredibles, Now The Incredibles, aside from having a great story and being the best screen version of the Fantastic Four, represented a new watermark for Pixar films, being the first Pixar film to have an entirely human cast, pushing the boundaries with what Pixar could do in terms of skin texture, body language and hair. The film was a massive success, winning Bird his first Oscar for Best Animated Film. Bird followed it up with Ratatouille, which again pushed animation boundaries in terms of how it depicted food, with the recipes from Ratatouille forming the basis of many cooking videos, my favourite being the Binging with Babish episode.

After Bird won his second Oscar with Ratatouille, he went into live action. Originally he intended to make an epic about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake but that ended up being stalled due to the high budget and scope of the film being hard to convey in a feature film. Bird now plans to do the project as a TV series covering life in San Francisco before the earthquake and the earthquake as a feature film. With that film stalled, Bird signed on to direct Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol due to the efforts of Tom Cruise and JJ Abrams. Now whilst, for me, Mission: Impossible 3 is my favourite film in the series, Ghost Protocol is a close second, having some of the best set piece moments in the series, mainly the Burj Khalifa, and, as of this moment, is the highest grossing film in the Mission: Impossible series.

Bird followed this up with Tomorrowland, which was a highly ambitious sci-fi film but another commercial disaster and opening to mixed reviews concerning the uneven tone of the film and the idea that the film promoted Objectivism. With this, Bird kind of followed a similar career to Andrew Stanton, both of them being great animation directors whose big Disney sci-fi film was a commercial disaster so they returned to the Pixar film that made them big. For Stanton that led to Finding Dory, for Bird that led to Incredibles 2. Now I can’t comment on the film yet since it hasn’t been released in the UK but I’ve heard mostly positive reviews for the film, albeit with heavy criticism for scenes that have caused people with epilepsy to have seizures, and it has been another box office success for Bird.

Now, as usual, I’m looking for any pieces you have on the films of Brad Bird, reviews, podcasts whatever. Send those over to me by the 28th to be featured in the final rundown. As a quick reminder, here are the films you can cover.

  • The Iron Giant
  • The Incredibles
  • Ratatouille
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • Tomorrowland
  • Incredibles 2

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to seeing whatever you send me.

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