Jan Pinkava

In other vaguely Czech animated news, Jan Pinkava is working on a feature film with Laika (presumably stop-motion as they shut down their CG department). Pinkava has had a very interesting career and is a truly international artist. He was born in Prague in 1963, a time when Švankmajer was making his first films, and the Czech film industry was active and fruitful with artists like Frantisek Vlacil and Milos Forman leading the way. Pinkava’s family moved to the UK in the late 60s and it was here that he was educated and started to play with animation.

He won an award for a short film of his on the BBC show Screen Test which brought him a lot of attention. Interested by the potentials of new technologies, he then went over to Wales to study computer science in Aberystwyth and stayed until he got a PhD. After a brief stint in London he was picked-up by Pixar in 1993 and made some award-winning commercials as well as working on their features. Geri’s Game, Pinkava first short at Pixar won the Oscar, as well as numerous other awards and really established him as a director. This gave him the impetus to begin developing a story of his into feature film. The story was about a rat on the streets of Paris who dreamed of being a chef…

Ratatouille
Ratatouille (2007) © Disney / Pixar

This would of course later become the brilliant Ratatouille, but not without some turbulence. It’s unclear what really happened, and the Ratatouille DVD Extras provide little answers, but Pinkava was replaced as Director by Brad Bird, hot off the success of The Incredibles. Jan stayed briefly, demoted and then quit Pixar. Brad Bird is currently working on a live-action adaptation of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco called …1906. The exciting news regarding Jan Pinkava is that we should soon see more work from this skilled craftsman with the Laika film. I’m not sure if this is anything to do with the new features that Henry Selick is directing as I understood he had left Laika and was now working with Disney/Pixar and John Lasseter on creating at least three new stop-motion feature films. Many British animators over here are already packing their bags getting ready to go to the states for something. Time will tell.

Henry Selick and Coraline
Henry Selick with Coraline. Image. © Syfy 2010