College of Liberal & Creative Arts Alumni: Jonas Rivera, “Up” Producer

College of Liberal & Creative Arts Alumni: Jonas Rivera, “Up” Producer


>>I got started at Pixar
through an internship program. I was at SF State it was my senior year in the Cinema Department, it was in ’94. So, I cold called Pixar at the time. I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t even know about Toy Story, I just knew they were local and I wondered if they had internships and they were in the height of making Toy Story it was the final year of production. So, in sort of a panic, they said, “Can you come down tomorrow?” I love my job. The thing I like most about it is we have a really cool group of people here It’s more like a family than it is a business and I’ve grown up here. I’ve been here since ’94, so I feel like I work with my best friends. So you have these great bonds
and great relationships with everybody and we all share the same passion…
We love making films, we love the films that we make. What animation does well is it strips down everything to just its core. It’s like a great caricature. If you see a photograph of Lucille Ball and then you see a Hirschfeld drawing of Lucille Ball There’s this weird thing that happens where the caricature looks more like her than the photograph. And it’s because it has distilled her down to just the simplest terms. We always try to say in computer animation we have the ability to make things look very real, and sometimes the audience will say, “Oh, I loved ‘WALL-E’, it looked so real…” or “Up” the textures, the lighting looked real… and the truth is we’re not trying to make anything look real we’re trying to make things feel believable. I can’t lie to you. It’s the coolest feeling in the world. It was like this dream for a month. It’s not just the Academy Awards, it’s this whole season. I had never experienced anything like this, where The PR machine of Disney kicks in and they take us around to all these different award shows. Before I knew it I was wearing tuxedos sitting next to movie stars and on panels with the best picture producers and directors. …I’m sitting with Ivan Reitman on a panel at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. I couldn’t believe it. It was so awesome! It was the second animated film to ever be nominated for best picture behind “Beauty and the Beast.” So it was quite an honor. Going to SF State was the great stepping stone into my career. The thing I like to talk about is that it made me feel like there’s a brotherhood out there, there are people out there that feel the way I do about film. That are passionate about it. That want to work in it! You have the luxury of exposure at school I mean, one of the great treasures for me was the script library. I remember someone saying just reading scripts, soaking up scripts is the best thing. So, I literally did that. I went everyday and I would just get “The Birds” or a movie I hadn’t seen and that would inspire me to see it…or a first draft. I just read and read and read scripts–which you don’t have access to that out of school. If you’ve got an emphasis in cinema, then literally, purposely do the opposite. Take a couple classes in the thing that least interests you. They’re not going to convert you, but learn what the other students are saying. I encourage that because I really think it’s healthy and it gives you a more balanced view of cinema and helps you understand a wider audience.

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