Photo Credits Louise from MomStart
I was sent on an all expense paid press trip to gather these interviews and bring them to you. All opinions are my own.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Grindle the producer and the writer and director Sanjay Patel of Sanjay’s SuperTeam. I had such a nice time listening to them explaining the way this Pixar short was created. Check it out and see why it’s up for an Oscar.
So were those the pictures you drew as a child?
(at the end of the short while the credits roll it shows these kid like pictures)
Sanjay: No, I wish it was. That was something that Chris (production designer) and I came up with.
Nicole: We asked the kids of the people who worked on this short to draw pictures and we tried to include them all in there. They were excited to see their artwork on the big screen.
Sanjay: And I was excited that I end up getting the credit. Laughs!
What’s the story behind the short? I’d love to hear it from your perspective.
Nicole: Sanjay has worked at Pixar for almost 20 years. He started out turning his back on his father’s culture and wanting to fit in as an immigrant and wanting to fit in at Pixar. About 10 years in he began doing some art and writing his own books. He was doing well. It allowed him to reconnect with his culture. Pixar saw his artowrk at the Asian art museum. They saw it and wanted him to come do a short film. He was persuaded to do it.
Sanjay: It didn’t happen over night. It was a long process. I was really scared. Three years later we’re telling this story and telling it in a way that was so sincere. Pixar is always interested in telling new stories. So my dad said “Sanjay you’ve been at Pixar 20 years and they’re asking you to try this thing and you keep telling them no. Maybe you need to just try it. For you not to try would be bad karma. Win or lose you need to try.” So long story short, I tried. John Lasseteer, he really believed in the concept from minute one. He drew it out of me before I even knew it. The short is about a boy not appreciating his culture. John just seemed to want me to tell my story about me and my dad. So I can’t diminish John’s support and his stewardship to keep the story true. He gave me permission to say things I wouldn’t otherwise say or do. My normal was to fit in. It took John to tell me that my story and my dad’s story has value and I need to give it credit and bring it to life.
How do you see it impacting kids from your culture and background to see it on a major motion film?
Sanjay: I’m excited! I had very few brown friends. We looked at stuff as kids and we were like that’s cool(color didn’t matter). As a kid you just knew it was cool. Pixar makes things that are cool. It was really exciting that we could make it cool for all kids. So maybe people from my community will feel less alone and feel more included.
In hindsight what do you think other kids that are chlidren of immigrants that will embrace now?
Nicole: it’s bridging cultures of all generations. I’m hoping that all kids will understand that if I think it’s cool maybe others will think it’s cool too.
Sanjay: I feel like with kids if it’s cool they’ll connect. The way we made the short, I don’t know it has my thumbprint on it. It has my dad’s thumbprint on it. I just think people know when a story is authentic.
Has your dad seen it yet?
Sanjay: Yes he saw it. He got emotional. My dad doesn’t watch movies. He’s never seen any recent movies. So to fly him up and watch an animated story about him and I and our history. It’s such a classic dude way of operating.
Was it a private moment with you guys?
Nicole: it was just the three of us. Sanjay, his dad and me.
Nicole said, “He’s a very hardworking guy who works 7 days a week and here’s his son getting it. I see what you’re doing and I appreciate it.”
Sanjay: Yes, it was emotional. My dad’s not an emotional guy. But seeing our story he got emotional.
What does the trio of Gods represent?
We had 6 minute to do explore this without language. My job was to open the door to show you and then you can explore and find your answers. What is hard, is to open that door to begin with. We needed Vishnu which stands for preservation and balance. If they’re interested there’s 3000 years of history written on it. We just wanted to open that door. We decided we needed Vishnu because my father was trying to preserve his culture.
Can you explain the look of this short? It’s just different from the other shorts we’ve seen.
Nicole: We were cut loose to do something different. We did different camerawork. We did different stuff with lighting and the set. When he was blowing the candle out our set just stretched out and the walls dissolved. It was just awesome.
Sanjay: I grew up in an immigrant box. The box is where you land and the apartment we rented when we got here. Sort of a beige on beige. When the boy lights the lamp of knowledge I wanted what was finite to become infinite. We wanted to explore different things and had fun while we did it.
You seem very humble. How did you came up with your name being on the short?
Sanjay: I didn’t want to do it. I fought it.
Nicole: We wanted to keep his name in the film. We considered naming it Dia because it’s all about light. We considered others too. John finally said it has to be Sanjay. He wanted to represent the super team and bringing people together.
This gave him a platform to bring it to more people. The books started it all. But Pixar is bringing it to the masses.
Sanjay: If I was going to do my own book with my own friends. I wanted it to connect with everyone.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
We’re working on other projects but nothing we can talk about yet.
Sanjay: it’s fun to just help directors out every day.
Did you intend on making this about religion?
Nicole: I think we were worried that some wouldn’t understand what this story was about so we put the pictures at the end to show it’s one families experience. It’s one little boy interpreting his father’s experience.
Sanjay: It’s a special thing to invite somebody in to something that normally they wouldn’t be exposed too. It’s a privilege to show them my experience with my father’s religion.
Do you think this will change your perspective on being a father?
Sanjay: I think it’s changed my relationship with my father. It was a huge eyeopener to how hard it is for parents. It’s a paradox. Run away from me but I can’t believe how beautiful and special you are.
Was there a reason why you kept it with no conversation?
Nicole: That is the tradition of Pixar shorts. It’s a tribute to the pure art of animation. His father does speak in the very end.
Sanjay: There’s not alot of dialogue going on at home. It’s like you can tell a lot by their eyes. You know if you’re in trouble by looking in your parent’s eyes.
Thank you Sanjay and Nicole for sharing your stories with us. Make sure you check out the Good Dinosaur in theaters now. There’s more info below for you to like and follow them and check out the video.
Check out The Good Dinosaur Trailer
Get social with The Good Dinosaur
Check out the short on the short!
Have you seen Sanjay’s SuperTeam at the front of the Good Dinosaur movie?