Mette Tange, an animator from Denmark now working in Spain, was the winner of our 39th Annie Awards “Guess the Winners” Facebook contest. The grand prize was a trip for two to San Francisco and a private tour of Pixar. Here is her report, in her own words and photos.
A great San Francisco trip with an amazing tour of Pixar Animation Studios
by METTE TANGE
Can’t wait – Excited – Can’t wait – Excited – Can’t wait – Excited – Can’t wait – Excited – Can’t wait – Excited – Can’t wait –
Sitting on the plane right above the wing, facing the toilets, the motor is running with sound level at 150.000 dB right underneath my seat and the TV does not work. But I couldn’t care less – I am on my way to San Francisco – On my way to visit Pixar!
Bouncing happily out of the plane right into a car. Drive/jumping out of the airport with a bald mechanic guy yelling after me, “You will get used to the automatic transmission – you will soon get them in Europe too.”
Arriving at the W Hotel and WHAT a hotel. Black ties with sunglasses carrying orange, green and blue drinks, a DJ standing behind a massive Apple logo playing Deep House, an elevator with 3D pictures on the walls, a pool on the 4th floor, spa on the 5th, fitness room on the 6th and our room at floor 11. What a view…and what a jetlag!
“Kapow” – eyes open – “Bang” – excited – “Kaboom” – more excited! Driving towards the holy gates of Pixar Animation Studios with a GPS that most of all wants us to drive directly into buildings or straight into the blue waters of San Francisco Bay.
Yep, European folks, Pixar does actually exist – it’s not something someone made up, to make the extra material on our beloved DVDs more entertaining.
In the main hall we met up with Lego Woody, Lego Buzz and, standing next to them, the sweet Danielle Levin who was our guide at the studio.
While telling stories about the buildings, the grass on the football field and answering our questions, we entered the cinema. Placed comfortably on red couches we watched La Luna, Small Fry and Brave’s Princess Merida’s beautiful red hair flash on the screen. Afterwards, we met with Small Fry’s director, Angus MacLane – as always in those surprise situations it’s really hard to come up with something cleaver to ask.
Completely blown away, we continued into the animation department. WOW! I have never seen anything like it. Workspaces dressed like houses, jungles and what not. It seems like only imagination and fire regulations can stop you from making your own perfect creative environment. Truly inspiring!
We went to animator Andrew Gordon’s old office and Danielle showed us a small door near the floor. We got down on our knees and crawled into an old air conditioning maintenance room, which Andrew had turned into a cozy little break space. It was decorated with small Christmas lights that transformed into dollar signs, stars, and hearts when you put on special glasses that were hanging on a string, slightly covering some of the names of people who had previously visited the room.
Andrew had changed workspaces and Danielle showed us his new office, Where there was a bust. Danielle turned the head of the bust, pressed a button and NNNIIRRRRRKK, a bookshelf opened revealing a secret room and a mysterious red light shining on the floor. With arms up in a kung fu pose and with careful steps, we entered the room. Inside were red sofas, a blackjack table, pictures of celebrities, and a fully equipped bar. I could have stayed there, sipping a whiskey or two, but we still had things to see.
Upstairs was a gallery with beautiful concepts from Brave. Drawings, paintings, videos, and figurines. Absolutely amazing artwork. I am dying to see that movie.
Last but not least, we saw John Lasseter’s office. I feel a bit sorry for the cleaning lady – his office is filled with toys – big toys, small toys, toys made of plastic, toys made of…Just a lot of toys.
Well, Danielle clapped her hands and made the gesture of “That’s it.” Then changed her gesture to “Oh, look at this’.” Two green bags filled with books, watches, hats, postcards and – and – and – were standing right there on the floor. Oh Boy! Now my apartment is going to look like John Lasseter’s office! Amazing!
One day left to see San Francisco. Walked up the hill in China Town, down hill in Castro, Up hill in Golden Gate Park, down hill, up hill, down hill, up hill…. lots of hills, lots of great spirit, lots of fun people.
Happily sitting at my animation desk back home. Full of energy, incredibly inspired, dreaming myself back to San Francisco. What a great trip. Still can’t imagine how lucky one can be. One day, I will hopefully discover the animated world of Pixar myself – To infinity and beyond!
Thanks to ASIFA-Hollywood and everyone involved in the trip: Frank Gladstone, Zahra Dowlatabadi, Allysa Amundson, Jim Morris, Danielle Levin and other folks I might not know of.
Thank you again for the great experience.