From Idea to Animation: John Lasseter’s Creative Fingerprint on Skydance

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One would be hard-pressed to find a more transformative individual in the field of film animation than John Lasseter. Lasseter has long been celebrated in the film industry as an animator, producer, writer, and all-encompassing creative mastermind. The films he has made have grossed over $19 billion, making him one of the most successful filmmakers of all time. Read further as we explore Lasseter’s incredible journey in the film industry and how he is responsible for the rapid rise to the top of Skydance Animation.

Creative Mind of John Lasseter

“If you can think about it, you can create it.”

Lasseter’s love for animation dates back to his childhood. Even as a kid, Lasseter loved to draw and was encouraged by his mother, an art teacher, to continue to develop his love of animation. From an early age, Lasseter thought of his pictures in moving terms. In church, he would make flicker books in the corners of his hymn book. At school, he would daydream about characters in alternate universes and imagine them in a moving comic strip.

Eventually, he went on to pursue his talent at the California Institute of Arts. Upon graduation, Lasseter’s talents quickly secured him a role as a Disney animator, enjoying successes such as “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Black Cauldron.” His career would then take him to become Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and various Disney studios, where he worked on some of the world’s highest-grossing films, such as “Finding Nemo,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Frozen.” In 2019, Lasseter found a new creative home with Skydance Animation.

Lasseter and Skydance Animation

Opening its doors in 2017, Skydance Animation is one of the newcomers in the animation game and a newfound family member of Skydance Productions. Two years after its creation, the company found the perfect creative mind to lead the Skydance Animations division into becoming a leading force and named John Lasseter as its new head of animation. As head of Skydance, Lasseter’s role is to spearhead growth, production, operations, and strategy for the animation division of Skydance. Immediately upon his hiring, Lasseter started on and released one beloved short film “Blush” and began two feature-length animated films: “Luck” and “Spellbound.”

“Luck” is currently streaming on Apple TV+ and is cast with a team of all-star actors, including Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, and Simon Pegg. “Luck” is the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world. Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must reunite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. Lasseter’s second feature-length animated feature film, “Spellbound,” set to be released in 2024, is already gaining international recognition.

‘Spellbound’: Projected International Hit for Lasseter

The Annecy International Film Festival is held every year in Annecy, France, and it honors the best names in animation from around the world. With Lasseter as head of Skydance Animation and Vicky Jensen as its director, it is no surprise that “Spellbound” made its way to the Annecy Film Festival. With an all-star cast led by Rachel Zegler, John Lithgow, and Jennifer Lewis, the story of “Spellbound” starts, as many animated films do, in a fantasy land. It centers around a young girl (Princess Ellian) who is faced with a dilemma. A magic spell has torn her kingdom in two and turned her parents into monsters who do nothing but ransack the castle. Like many children’s movies, the plot of “Spellbound” isn’t just for kids. The transformation of Ellian’s parents into monsters symbolizes deeper loss, which all adults understand at different stages of life. “Spellbound,” also a musical, breaks traditions from Skydance Animation’s most recent films, and it could be the film that fast-tracks Lasseter and Jensen into even further animated movie fame.

What’s Next? Continuing Creative Excellence

Considering Lasseter’s leadership at Skydance Animations has led to the growth of 65+ employees to nearly 900, the film guru is showing no signs of slowing down. Creating an animation studio at which engaging stories will captivate audiences of all ages around the world continues to be Lasseter’s vision for Skydance Animation and the broader animation industry. In his own words, “We make the kind of movies we like to watch. I love to laugh. I love to be amazed by how beautiful it is. But I also love to be moved to tears. There’s lots of heart in our films.”