PROFILE
Name:
John Lasseter
Birth Date:
January 12, 1957
Birth Place:
Hollywood, California, USA
Nationality:
American
BIOGRAPHY
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Toy Story

Background:

“Animation is not only an art form; rather it is a method of communication and means of entertainment, an art form wherein ideas must be visually communicated. To communicate ideas clearly by visual means, one must first learn the fundamentals of graphic design, which is the vocabulary and grammar of graphic communication.” John Lasseter

An Academy Award-winning American animator, director, producer and writer, John Lasseter is widely known as a pioneer of modern animation. He is the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. An innovative genius, Lasseter has been praised by many as the “Current Walt Disney.” In the entertainment industry since the early 1980s, the fan of traditional hand-drawn animation won his first Oscar for the animated short film “Tin Toy” (1988), which was his first completely computer animated short, and later in 1990 picked up the Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for his work in another short film, “Knick Knack” (1989). The celebrated animator, however, did not break into motion pictures until 1995 when he directed the groundbreaking computer-animated feature “Toy Story,” from which he was handed his second Oscar, a Special Achievement Award, in addition to receiving a nomination for his writing contribution. He also directed the blockbuster animations “A Bug's Life” (1998), “Toy Story 2” (1999) and more recently, “Cars” (2006), which brought him a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination and a Hollywood Film Festival Award in the same category. Since “Toy Story 2,” Lasseter has concentrated more in producing than directing. Animation features he has produced include “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Meet the Robinsons” and “Ratatouille” (both 2007).

Lasseter, who was ranked No. 1 in Premiere's 2006 annual “Power 50” list with Pixar/Disney executive Steve Jobs, is married and has five sons with his wife Nancy, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.


Miyazaki's Fan

Childhood and Family:

John A. Lasseter was born on January 12, 1957, in Hollywood, California, to a father who worked at a Chevrolet dealership and a mother who taught art at Bell Gardens Senior High School. He was raised in Whittier, California, and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, in 1979 with a degree in animation. There he met future collaborator Brad Bird. When he was five, John won $15.00 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, California, for a crayon drawing of the Headless Horseman.

John is happily married to wife Nancy Lasseter, whom he met at a computer graphics conference. The couple has five sons, Bennett, Joey, P.J, Sam and Jackson. John and his wife currently reside in Sonoma, California, and own a dog named Frank. John is a huge lover of Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan's greatest animation directors who is also a personal friend of his.


Cars

Career:

Son of an art teacher, John Lasseter had developed a passion for cartoons and animation by his freshmen year of high school. He wrote to The Walt Disney Studios about his high-spirited interest in the field and started studying art and drawing on his own. He got a letter from the studio informing him of their new Character Animation Program at the California Institute of the Arts. Lasseter became the second student accepted into the very first class and studied there alongside such luminary classmates as Brad Bird, Tim Burton and John Musker. During summer breaks, he apprenticed at the Disney Studios. A notable student, he won Student Academy Awards after creating the short films “Lady and the Lamp” and “Nitemare.” Shortly after college, he joined the Disney feature animation department with which he would stay for the next five years. During this period, he worked on various projects such as the feature “The Fox and the Hound” (1981) and the noted short “Mickey's Christmas Carol” (1984).

In 1982, Lasseter gained experience of computer animation during the making of Disney's live-action film “Tron.” Fascinated by the prospects of the revolutionary new medium, he and fellow animator Glen Keane created an experimental 30-second test film based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Through it, they explored the combination of traditional hand-drawn character animation with computerized camera movements and environment. Lasseter's interest in this new technology increased after he visited the computer animation division of the Lucasfilm Industrial Light and Magic. In 1984, he left Disney in order to spend a month at Lucasfilm, but six months later when entrepreneur Steven Jobs purchased the department, Lasseter was still there. Jobs renamed the new company Pixar and gave Lasseter the freedom to direct, produce, script, and create models for numerous innovative shorts and commercials.

In 1986, Lasseter made his producing debut with a 2-minute short called “Luxo Jr.,” which he also directed and wrote. It was a huge critical success and earned him a Silver Berlin Bear for Best Short Film, a World Animation Celebration for Computer Assisted Animation and an OIAF Award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Most notably, the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Short Film-Animated and became the first computer animated short nominated for the prestigious award. After the 4-minute animated “Red's Dream” (1987), Lasseter proved himself outstanding by taking home his Oscar for Best Achievement in Animated Short Films for his work in “Tin Toy” (1988), which marked his first completely computer animated short. In addition to directing, he also wrote, animated and did the modeling for this remarkable project. “Knick Knack,” his closing work in the 1980s.

Lasseter was still a creative emphasis on storytelling and characters for Disney although he had officially left the studio. In the early 1990s, along with three other writers, he developed an original script for a feature film about a personality conflict between toys that come to life when neglected by their human master. The result, “Toy Story,” was released in 1995 with Lasseter sitting in the director's chair. He also received credit for modeling and animation system development and marked his comeback to Disney since Pixar teamed up with the studio to make the film. The highly successful feature, which grossed over $190 million in the U.S., received three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Writing and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Lasseter was presented with a Special Achievement award for his contribution in bringing the first feature-length computer animated film to the screen. He also won an Annie for Best Individual Achievement in Directing.

The great animator returned in 1998 with triumph when the computer animated feature “A Bug's Life,” a modern take on Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” gained more than $160 million at the box office and collected a number of nominations, including a Saturn for Best Fantasy Film, a Los Angeles Critics Association for Best Animated Film and an Oscar for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score. As for Lasseter, he was nominated for two Annie Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production and Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production. The following year saw Lasseter co-direct and co-write the great installment “Toy

Story 2” (1999), from which he netted two Annies for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production and Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production. He was also nominated for a Best Screenplay, Original at the 200 Online Film Critics Society. The film also received a Golden Globe nomination in the category of Best Film-Musical or Comedy.

After jointly winning a First Prize at the 2001 Vancouver Effects and Animation Festival for Animated Computer 3D Short for his producing contribution for director Ralph Eggleston's “For the Birds” (2000), he went on to produce “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), directed by animator Pete Docter, and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature for his work in the box office film, an honor he shared with Docter. His next producing efforts included such Oscar hits as “Finding Nemo” (2003), which became Pixar’s most bankable feature up to now, and “The Incredibles” (2004), directed and written by Brad Bird.

In early 2006, The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar and Lasseter was appointed Chief Creative Officer of both the Pixar and Disney animation studios. He was also appointed Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering. Also the same year, Lasseter returned to the director's chair for the animated feature “Cars” (2006), which won him an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. He also picked up a 2007 BAFTA nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, an Annie nomination for Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production and a Hollywood Film Festival for Animation of the Year.

More recently, in 2007, Lasseter produced the animated films “Meet the Robinsons,” helmed by Stephen J. Anderson, and “Ratatouille,” by Brad Bird. He is also the executive producer of the Andrew Stanton upcoming animation film “Wall-E,” slated for a June 2008 release.


Awards:

  • Visual Effects Society: Georges Méliès Award, 2006

  • ShoWest Convention: Special, Pioneer of Animation, 2006

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Animation of the Year, “Cars,” 2006

  • Art Directors Guild: Contribution to Cinematic Imagery, 2004

  • PGA Golden Laurel: Vanguard Award, 2002

  • Vancouver Effects and Animation Festival: First Prize, Animated Computer 3D Short, “For the Birds,” 2001

  • Annie: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production, “Toy Story 2,” 2000

  • Annie: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production, “Toy Story 2,” 2000

  • Annie: Best Individual Achievement: Directing, “Toy Story,” 1996

  • Oscar: Special Achievement, “Toy Story,” 1996

  • ShoWest Convention: Special, Outstanding Achievement, 1996

  • Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award, Best Short Film, “Knick Knack,” 1990

  • Oscar: Best Short Film, Animated, “Tin Toy,” 1989

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Short Film, “Luxo Jr.,” 1987

  • World Animation Celebration: WAC Winner, Computer Assisted Animation, “Luxo Jr.,” 1987

  • Ottawa International Animation Festival: 2nd place, OIAF-Film Less Than 5 Minutes, “Luxo Jr.,” 1986

  • Student Academy: Achievement, Animation, “Lady and the Lamp,” 1979 (California Institute of the Arts)

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