Sanjay Patel, who’s the writer and director of Sanjay’s Super Team, (shown in the beginning on the movie The Good Dinosaur) was born to Gujarati parents who moved to America and lived in a Lido Motel in California. Later, he became an employee at Pixar. Now its been over 20 years where he is an animator for such films as A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille and Toy Story 3. We had a chance to pick his brain about his new short film and more. Check out what he had to say inside…
The History of Sanjay’s Super Team:
Sanjay Patel has worked at Pixar for over 20 years and has been involved in many films in various capacities. As an animator, he started out turning his back on his culture and wanted to embrace more traditional animation art. After about 10 years at Pixar, he started to explore South Asian art. And really became good at it, so good that he began publishing books that allowed him to reconnect with the culture. Pixar proudly displayed his artwork and when John Lasseter, President of Pixar, saw it, he approached Patel about making a short out of it.
At first Patel resisted. He was concerned to bring his identity and his culture – something that was so precious to my parents and my community – to work. And he even tried to convince Lasseter that telling an Indian story was “not a part of Pixar’s brand.” Luckily Lasseter persisted, convincing Patel that Pixar was always interested in telling new stories.
But it took a conversation with his father for him to realize that it would be bad karma for him not to do what the studio that had supported him for 20 years wanted him to do. “He said It was my duty to at least try. Win or lose. That doesn’t matter. That’s not part of the equation Sanjay, but is your duty to at least try.” And so try he did.
Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Paradis Grindle
Sanjay’s Super Team’s animation isn’t like the usual Pixar animation.
Nicole stated that they were “going for something that was epic and was supposed to represent enlightenment and what’s hard is most of the films that Pixar makes are in somehow part of the real world.” They had the crew really push the limits of the tools they already were using and they were able to try really epic angles and super wide lenses.
Pixar short films hardly has any words!
If you’ve wondered why there isn’t much conversation in Sanjay’s Super Team, it’s because it’s part of the tradition of Pixar stories. Patel shared that the Pixar teams tries as much as much as possible not to have a lot of dialogue because it is a tribute to the pure art of animation and visual story telling. That is part of the tradition. There’s some dialogue with the TV and then his father does speak at the very end.
On telling his dad about the film:
Everyone at Pixar was really curious on the results of the film because it was the first time they had done such a real and personal story. Patel’s dad doesn’t watch movies and has never seen Pixar films or any of the animation that Sanjay had worked on.
“It was so surreal to like fly him up to the studio,” shared Patel. “It’s the second time he had been there and to have him come sit down in the theater and watch an animated story about him and me and our history and he was super emotional about it.
Nicole Grindle was present when Sanjay Patel shared the film with his father. “It was sweet because he was all business at first,” she shared. “He wanted to come and be there for his son and watch the film and say, “Yes it’s very good.” Then when we started talking about how he was proud of Sanjay and that’s when he went over the edge and got super emotional.
He’s a very hard working guy. He works 7 days a week, 24-7, he runs a motel. Here his son was not only thanking him, but understood who he was and what had sustained him. I thought you know how can that not be emotional right? To have your child say, “I see what you’ve been doing and I appreciate it.” So it was pretty emotional.”
SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM shows with THE GOOD DINOSAUR now playing in theaters nationwide! xoxo
Check out a clip…
Images Pixar, Getty