FROM 2007
KATHERINE SARAFIAN
talks about her start at Pixar

by Scott Wolf

Andrew Jiminez, Ralph Eggleston & Katherine Sarafian

When Andrew Jimenez, Ralph Eggleston, and Katherine Sarafian from Pixar were together at Comic-Con, it gave me the opportunity to talk to them collectively about how Pixar works and a bit about their own careers as well.

Each have worked on many of Pixar's films and also Andrew directed "One Man Band," Ralph directed, "For the Birds," and Katherine produced "Lifted."

Scott Wolf: How did you get your start with Pixar?

Katherine Sarafian: My past started with the shorts program because I was a graduate student at UCLA Film School. I knew I wanted to work in computer filmmaking, I just didn't know what that meant at the time. We had a guest speaker from Pixar. I remember everything about my career except for I don't remember who that speaker was.

But somebody came down and showed “Luxo Jr.” and a couple of other Pixar short films in one of our little screening rooms and then did a talk and I was like, 'Ok! That's where I’m going to work.' As soon as I graduated, I sent a résumé to Pixar Shorts and I sent another résumé to Pixar Features and I sort of waited and waited and literally waited for them to call. I thought, “I’ve got the best résumé, people are going to hire me,” and eventually they did and that was it. (she laughs)

SW: What were you hired as?

Katherine: I was hired as an assistant to the Production Manager of Toy Story and I became a coordinator of schedules and spreadsheets and I sort of tracked the footage that we were doing every week.

SW: Wasn’t your actual credit Creative Resources and Marketing?

Katherine: That was in “Toy Story 2.” Pixar’s a place where I’ve worked there almost 13 years and I think I’ve had eight different careers. It’s a studio where you can move show to show and do a different thing.

SW: It almost sounds like old time Disney where just because you are hired for one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll end up doing. Do you all feel that way?

(They all agree)

SW: Katherine, you produced “Lifted.”

Katherine: Yes, I produced "Lifted" most recently.

SW: From the second it says the word “Lifted” I laugh.

Katherine: Gary Rydstrom the Director will be happy to hear that.

SW: What did you do before “Lifted?”

Katherine: I was Production Manager of “The Incredibles” right before “Lifted” and that’s where I worked with Andy (Andrew Jiminez) and Ralph (Eggleston). Before that I was Production Supervisor of “Monsters, Inc.” and before that I was on "Toy Story 2" and that was the detour into Creative Services, Consumer Products and Marketing, before that I was the Art Department Manager of “Bugs Life” and before that I was a story scheduling coordinator on “Toy Story.”

But yeah, Tom Porter who was the Associate Producer of “Cars” was the head of Marketing for a couple years and he was one of the people who started Pixar.

Ralph Eggleston: I didn’t even know that. And he invented “motion blur.”

Katherine: He invented “motion blur,” head of marketing, and Associate Producer of a movie. (chuckles)

Ralph: The very first time Steven Spielberg saw how to paint on a computer Tom Porter showed him.

Katherine: So yes, you can do lots of things there.

Andrew Jiminez: Well, in any field with all this technology that’s developing… I remember Ed (Catmull) saying once, and this is such a rare philosophy that I think a lot of other studios have the opposite of, which is we have to find people who are better than us and get them here because people bring so many different things to the table and we might not even know what we need five years from now as far as the technology to solve this story we haven’t even thought up yet. So to hire people as “artists” and not hire people as “you do this one thing, you do this and that’s all we want you for, then we’re going to let you go.” Pixar doesn’t work like that. They invest in you and your potential talents and your potential.

More from Pixar's Andy, Ralph and Katherine:
About Pixar's short films
How Pixar's different from other studios
Andy & Ralph's start with Pixar

See other interviews





 
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