Monday, October 3, 2016

Chapter Review: "Make it Great, John": How Steve Jobs and John Lasseter Changed History at Pixar

from the book Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe, Theshold Editions, New York, 2014.
During the time when Steve Jobs had been forced out at Apple Computer, he purchased from George Lucas a his computer graphics division which had about 100 employees and was named for their computer, Pixar.  John Lasseter was one of the employees there.  Lasseter was the artist, animator among the computer technicians.  He had previously worked for Disney, and been let go because of his ideas about using computers to do animation.  
Before Pixar found it self if cost Jobs millions of dollars; 5 million to purchase it, another immediate investment of 5 million, and over the next couple years another 10 million.  They were bleeding money.  It was unclear how long Jobs could continue.  At a meeting to see how they could save money, Lasseter proposed making a short film, for $300,000.  When money is tight asking for more is not always a good thing.  However Jobs gave Lasseter this one instruction, "Just make it great."
The short he had in mind was called Tin Toy.  It was a precursor to Toy Story.  The short won an Academy Award for animation.  The bigger project followed, However they needed financing, so they invited Disney to oversee the project.  They had evolved the character to Woody and Buzz Lightyear.  However Disney insisted on Woody being cantankerous so they could attract an adult audience.  The movie lost its focus and was not going well.  Tom Hanks, the actor for Woody said, This guy is a real jerk."  Initial previews did not go well.  Disney shut own the project.  However Jobs convinced them to give it another shot, and they rewrote the script.  The movie was on its way.
Jobs did not want to be dependent on Disney in the future.  He made plans for Pixar, a company with successive years of loss, to go public as soon as the movie came out.  And that is what he did, against everyone's better judgement.  Pixar gained financial independence, and went on to make many more movies; A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monster Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and more.  
Jobs was welcomed back at Apple, and Pixar became a subsidiary of Disney.  The original Pixar Computer is now in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

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