Fil-Am to direct first-ever Pixar short featuring Filipino characters 

A still from “Float,” Pixar’s first-ever short film featuring Filipino characters by Bobby Rubio. (Screengrab from Disney-Pixar)

Pixar will have its first-ever short film featuring Filipino characters, created by a Filipino-American story artist at its studio.

Bobby Rubio — whose work at Pixar Animation Studios includes “Incredibles 2,” “Up,” “Brave, and “Monster’s University” — is now taking the writer and director’s seat for “Float,” a short film that will have Filipino lead characters in computer-generated imagery (CGI).  

“It’s OFFICIAL! I can finally tell you I’m the #Writer / #Director of the #Pixar #SparkShort ‘Float’!” Rubio wrote on his Twitter account on January 10. “I’m so proud to be a part of this program and to be among these very talented people! And I have to give a shout-out to my wonderful and talented crew, Team Float!”

Disney-Pixar on January 10 announced the short film program Sparkshorts, “an experimental storytelling initiative that welcomes new creative voices at Pixar Animation Studios to share their stories,” according to CartoonBrew 

“I see it as a wonderful opportunity to tell my story,” Rubio said in a video released by the studio.

Rubio went on to confirm in another Twitter post that “…those are #Filipino lead characters in my #Pixar #SparkShort! @Pixar’s first all #CGI Filipino characters! So technically, the first #Pixnoys! I am proud to tell our stories. I know what it means to see our culture represented on screen! #RepresentationMatters.” 

The story artist grew up in San Diego and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from California Institute of the Arts. He worked nine years at Walt Disney Feature Animation as a traditional artist and storyboard artist on films like “Pocahontas,” “Tarzan,” and “Treasure Planet.” He also had a stint at Nickelodeon Studios where he was an assistant director and storyboard artist for “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” before moving to Pixar.  

He has also developed his own independent comic series, “Alcatraz High” and “4 Gun Conclusion.” 

The release date of “Float” has yet to be announced, but the first three shorts — “Purl” directed by Kristen Lester, “Smash and Grab” directed by Brian Larsen, and “Kitbull” directed by Rosana Sullivan —  will be showcased at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles from January 18 to 24 following the “The Little Mermaid” feature film presentation. 

In an Instagram post on Monday, January 14, Rubio shared two stills of the short film along with the message, “When I was growing up, I didn’t see much characters that looked like me on #television or #movies and I am thrilled that my children will have these guys and hopefully they are just the beginning and will inspire more #FilipinoAmerican stories to come!”


View this post on Instagram


Hey everybody, in case you missed it, I am the #Writer/#Director of the #Pixar #SparkShort “Float”. I am happy to introduce the two main characters who are #FilipinoAmerican! They are Pixar’s first #CGI #Filipino characters, so technically they are the first #Pixnoys! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to tell our stories and share them with the world! When I was growing up, I didn’t see much characters that looked like me on #television or #movies and I am thrilled that my children will have these guys and hopefully they are just the beginning and will inspire more #FilipinoAmerican stories to come! #RepresentationMatters You can watch the #SparkShorts intro, just follow the link on my IG bio! #ShareTheCulture #ChangeTheWorld

A post shared by Bobby Rubio (@bobbyrubio) on

The shorts under the Sparkshorts program will be launched on YouTube in the coming weeks, then will be available on Disney+, the upcoming streaming service that Disney will launch in late 2019.

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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