‘Sanjay’s Super Team’ Interview: Sanjay Patel Goes from ‘Weakling’ to Pixar Director

     October 1, 2015


When I think about the Pixar short film pitching process, I imagine loads of up and coming Pixar artists clamoring for the opportunity to have their stories attached to a full feature. Turns out, that wasn’t the case for animator-turned-director Sanjay Patel. In addition to his gig at Pixar, Patel happily churned out children’s books featuring incredible illustrations about Hindu mythology and culture from the comfort of his own home. However, John Lasseter and producer Nicole Paradis Grindle insisted that it was time for him to take his work to the next level and Patel committed to directing the short film Sanjay’s Super Team, which will hit theaters with The Good Dinosaur on November 25th.

During a recent visit to New York City, I got the opportunity to sit down with Patel and Grindle to discuss how Patel went from working in solitude to leading a team and directing his first short. Check out what they had to say about the three-year filmmaking process, designing the characters, working with composer Mychael Danna, what it’s like to find out what feature your short will be paired with at Pixar, and much more in the video interview below.

Sanjay Patel & Nicole Paradis Grindle:

  • 00:04 – On the Pixar short film pitching process.
  • 00:53 – Patel didn’t have any ambition to make a short film; what changed that.
  • 02:08 – How the team at Pixar pushed Patel out of his comfort zone to make the short happen.
  • 02:48 – How the story grew from Patel’s relationship with his father.
  • 03:54 – Patel on his love of superhero cartoons, especially Super Friends.
  • 04:37 – The film took three years to make; the scheduling process.
  • 05:16 – Why this is an especially ambitious short.
  • 05:51 – Similarities to Inside Out.
  • 06:14 – Patel never got to experience an ornate temple; he grew up in “an immigrant box.”
  • 07:21 – The music in the film; working with composer Mychael Danna.
  • 08:49 – The lighting and design of the dream sequence in the film.
  • 10:11 – Designing the human characters; the importance of their eyes.
  • 11:28 – Why they minimize the amount of dialogue in short films at Pixar.
  • 11:58 – The sound design; creating the simple things that you normally wouldn’t notice.
  • 12:45 – The process of being paired with a Pixar feature.
  • 13:47 – What’s next for Patel and Grindle.

Image via Pixar

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