Short films are often an unsung segment of visual media. They can debut innovative new techniques, launch the careers of aspiring feature filmmakers, and win prestigious awards, but often go unnoticed by the general public. One of the exceptions is Pixar short films, which have the benefit of airing before a wide audience ahead of hugely successful animated movies, while also winning critical acclaim and awards.
Pixar's collection of animated shorts has covered a wide variety of stories involving humans, animals, and perhaps most famously, bringing typically inanimate objects to life. While some of these films are mere snippets of slapstick humor or flights of fancy, many involve relatable parables that can tug at the heartstrings. Upcoming short Lou, which will debut before feature Cars 3 this summer, will fall into the life lesson category.
The new 6-minute film, reports USA Today, tells the story of "an unseen creature in a school's lost-and-found bin." The monster named Lou has baseballs for eyes tucked inside a red hoodie, and his secret watch over the playground reveals kids being terrorized by J.J., the class bully. Below is a first look image of Lou in his wooden box, possibly planning the "high-jinks-filled comeuppance" in store for J.J.
Lou will be produced by Dana Murray (production manager for Inside Out) and directed by Dave Mullins (animator for Cars, Finding Nemo, and Up). Like last year's Piper director Alan Barillaro, previously an animator for Brave, Mullins will be helming a film for the first time. For the story, he drew on his own experiences as a child whose family moved around a lot, leaving him with the feeling of never belonging:
"You either feel invisible because you don’t know the other kids or you’re embarrassed and you want to be invisible. I thought it’d be really cool to have a character who could hide in plain sight."
Mullins doesn't take one side with the story, however. Lou will reveal that bullies often feel just as isolated or invisible, and that finding out their motivations can help solve the situation. The director enjoyed the idea of Lou as a character whose whole reason for being is to "give things back":
"That’s what I like about Lou: True happiness comes from giving. He gets J.J. to understand that and through that, what J.J. wants really is to be accepted by the other kids."
Mullins added some additional personal elements to the film, and a dedication to his father, who died while Mullins was working on the story for Lou. The subject of bullying is a universal theme that will resonate with both older and younger viewers, and the heartfelt personal touches should be a good fit with what has been billed as a "very emotional" story in Cars 3.
Lou will debut in U.S. theaters with feature film Cars 3 on June 16, 2017.
Source: USA Today