Pixar just released the first animated short in its new SparkShorts program and who better to get the ball rolling than – well a ball of yarn. The earnest 8-minute animated film follows a ball of yarn named ‘Purl’ at her new very male-dominated job and tackles the issue of gender equality in the workplace. Tackling this topical theme comes at the right time for the studio, who suffered from their own #MeToo scandal with former CCO John Lasseter was recently fired due to sexual harassment and accusations of misconduct.
The film was created by writer and director Kristen Lester, who said the film is based on her own experiences working in animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then I came to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”
Purl is faced with similar challenges as Lester when she begins a new job at B.R.O. Capital “a fast-paced, high energy, male-centric start-up.”
The film’s description reads: “Things start to unravel as she tries to fit in with this close-knit group. Purl must ask herself how far is she willing to go to get the acceptance she yearns for and in the end is it worth it?”
Pixar’s SparkShorts project objective is to highlight the studio’s up-and-coming animation artists. “The SparkShorts program is designed to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows. These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”
In addition to allowing animators a chance to produce their own projects, the short is also a promotion piece for Disney+, Disney’s new streaming device that will aim to compete with Netflix. More SparkShots are scheduled to be released in 2019.