‘Bao’s’ Domee Shi to make feature film directorial debut

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Domee Shi

Domee Shi, who helmed the charming, innovative and heartfelt Disney/Pixar short film “Bao,” is going to make her feature debut, according to Deadline Hollywood.

“We’re just developing the story for it right now,” Shi says. “It’s super early on, but I’m really excited to play in this new 90-minute film format.”

Shi will be just the second woman director to helm a Pixar feature, and Brenda Chapman, co-director of 2012’s “Braveand the first woman hired as a Pixar director, was taken off her film before it reached theaters. 

Screening in front of the blockbuster “Incredibles 2,” “Bao” follows a Chinese-Canadian woman who gets a second chance at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings suddenly comes to life.

With “Bao,” Shi became the 20th helmer to direct a Pixar short since the mid-1980s and the the first woman to do so. Although it started out with “doodling outside of work,” Shi was given the opportunity to pitch Pixar on three short concepts in 2016, in a studio open call.

“I practiced really, really hard, the weeks leading up to it. I drew a ton of boards for it, and then I just presented all three ideas,” she told Deadline. “I pitched a rough beginning, middle and end for each idea. I had some concept art, some reference images, and slowly, I made it through each round.”

Although Shi benefited from the mentorship of Pixar directing stars like Pete Docter and Brad Bird, it was her singular storytelling voice and creative risk-taking that made “Bao” so memorable.

“It was just a combination of things that I wanted to draw, and see in a short, and see on the big screen. I’m a huge fan of Asian food; I love cute, old Asian people; I love weird, dark fairy tales, like ‘The Little Gingerbread Man,’ or ‘Thumbelina,” Shi told Deadline. “I wanted to do a modern version of that—my take on that—and I think all of that went into making ‘Bao.’ It was a personal story, but that personal element came after I decided, ‘Oh, I want to do my own fairy tale. I want to make a short that has all of these elements.’ I incorporated more personal elements into it to flesh out the story, and give the characters more depth.

As Variety reports, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week the shortlists of Oscar semi-finalists in nine separate categories. From there, the organization’s separate respective branches will vote to determine nominees, which will be announced along with all other Oscar categories next month.

In honor of Shi’s “Bao” making the list in the best animated short film category, Disney/Pixar has it screening for free on YouTube for a limited time. To watch “Bao,” click here.

It’s also available on the “Pixar Short Films Collection: Vol. 3,” currently out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Along with preparing to make her first feature, Shi is a storyboard artist behind a key sequence in “Incredibles 2” and the upcoming “Toy Story 4,” according to Deadline.

-BAM

 

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