Cleveland Conquers Pixar: Two Chagrin Falls Filmmakers Up for Animation Oscars

'Coco,' top, and 'LOU,' both directed by Clevelanders and up for Oscar
If you’re wondering who to root for during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, I have two names for you: Lee Unkrich and Dave Mullins. Both are Chagrin Falls, Ohio, natives. Both work for animation powerhouse Pixar. And both are nominated for Academy Awards in animation.

Unkrich directed Coco, the Pixar Animation Studios 2017 hit up for Best Animated Feature Film. The film tells the tale of Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old boy who is transported to the land of the dead. There, he seeks the help of his ancestors to get back to the land of the living. The story is Unkrich’s too, although he didn’t write the screenplay.

Mullins wrote and directed the Pixar short Lou, which played alongside Pixar’s summer hit, Cars 3. Lou, the main character in the short, is made from the assorted unclaimed items of a kindergarten class. Lou’s gifts allow him to reshape the life of a class bully. Lou is up for Best Animated Short Film.

Clevelanders conquer Pixar

Unkrich was an actor in his youth, performing at Cleveland Playhouse. He would later attend the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He joined Pixar in 1994, eventually co-directing Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

Mullins graduated from Chagrin Falls High School and attended classes at the Cleveland Institute of the Arts. He has more than 20 years at Pixar, working as a supervising and directing animator, working in some way on nearly every Pixar film to date, including Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, all three Cars films, Up, Brave, Inside Out and the upcoming Incredibles 2.


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