Rosana Sullivan was on her way to becoming a biologist. Then she took at internship at Pixar University during college and the rest was history. “I loved drawing my whole life, but I didn’t realize you could do animation as a career until that moment.”
Now a story artist at Pixar, Sullivan has spent the last few years working tirelessly on the studio’s latest animated film The Good Dinosaur, to be released on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
So what distinguishes The Good Dinosaur from the rest of the Pixar canon? “It’s a deeply emotional and quiet film compared to the others,” says Sullivan. “It’s dedicated to telling a story simply and beautifully, and only has about 20 percent dialogue.”
Sullivan’s passion for animation runs deep. She cites The Lion King and The Land Before Time as key influences. “Growing up in the suburbs of Texas, these movies transported me to another time and place,” she says. Jurassic Park also left a mark. “I was drawing dinosaurs all the time. Science has always been a big part of my life since my dad was a biology professor at university. I actually grew up hanging out in the biology lab.”
This love for nature and animals provided Sullivan with the perfect foundation for her work on The Good Dinosaur, which tells the story of a friendship between a young boy and a lost Apatosaurus.
“Understanding anatomy, musculature, and structure really helps,” she says. “You have to observe animals very carefully, and learn how something moves, how something behaves.”
Story artists like Sullivan are essential to Pixar’s production process. “We draw up a scene and try to sell it to the director. We try to flesh out a vision early on. It’s a very organic process.”
So what makes Pixar so special? “They hire people who care about story,” says Sullivan, who is cut from that cloth. “Every movie is a miracle when it’s finished,” she laughs.
I think audiences would agree.
Creed: Michael B. Jordan stars as the son of boxing legend Apollo Creed who gets mentored by an aging Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in this unique spinoff to the Rocky film series. Opens wide on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
James White: A modern young man angrily confronts his insecurities and doubts about the future as he watches his mother whither away from cancer.
Kingdom of Shadows: Bernardo Ruiz’s documentary offers multiple perspectives on the U.S.–Mexico drug war. Screens through Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Las Oscuras Primaveras: Two lovers entangled in a scorching affair begin to feel the guilt and doubt associated with their forbidden relationship. Screens through Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Legend: Tom Hardy stars twin brothers who become gangsters in London during the swinging 1960s. Brian Helgeland directs.
Songs from the North: By weaving together footage from three separate visits to North Korea, director Soon-Mi Yoo creates a unique perspective on this enigmatic country. Screens through Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Good Dinosaur: A dinosaur and young boy befriend each other in the newest film from the collective minds at Pixar animation. Opens wide on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Trumbo: Tells the true story behind famous screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s (Brian Cranston) being jailed and blacklisted from Hollywood during the late 1940s.
Victor Frankenstein: This latest reboot of the legendary horror story is told from the perspective of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), who watches as his employer (James McAvoy) dabbles with creating a monster.
One Time Only
The 39 Steps: Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliantly fleet wartime thriller traces an innocent man getting caught up in a web of murder, intrigue, and international spies. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at the Mission Valley Public Library.
The Big Lebowski: Joel and Ethan Coen’s comic masterpiece about a Dude and his bowling shenanigans. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Die Hard: The greatest Christmas movie ever made. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
#Horror: Cyber bullying turns from nasty to deadly in this horror film starring Chloë Sevigny and Natasha Lyonne. Screens at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27 and 28 at the Digital Gym Cinema.
That Obscure Object of Desire: Fernando Rey stars as a tortured widower looking to seduce a younger woman in Luis Bunuel’s final film. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.