Fil-Am Bobby Rubio directs his first Pixar short about a Filipino dad and his son
Los Angeles — First time we met Bobby Rubio, it was to interview him at the Pixar Studios in Emeryville for his contribution to the hit animation franchise “Incredibles 2.”
That was last year, and he was one of three "Pixnoys" who contributed to the movie.
Fast forward to today, and Bobby is now a first-time director at Pixar for the short “Float,” a groundbreaking project simply because it features, for the first time, Filipino characters, a father and son pair.
We interviewed Bobby by email, and below he shares with us his dream project coming to fruition, breaking barriers, his inspiration, passion, and the challenges he underwent to fulfill his dream of telling his stories and featuring Filipino characters.
Congratulations on your new short "Float!! How does it feel to be a first-time director at Pixar and creating Fil-Am characters for a Pixar movie?
I am very excited and thrilled to be a first time director at a wonderful studio such as Pixar Animation! I am aware of its rich legacy in animation and I am grateful to create the first CGI Fil-Am characters, the first actual Pixnoys (Pixar Pinoys)!
I had an idea about a father and his special child that floats about eight years ago. I had based this on my own relationship with my son, Alex.
I was going to do a comic series, but I just wasn’t emotionally ready to complete it. Fast forward to 2018 and I revisited that idea. This time I was determined to finish it.
I designed it to be an animated short, began storyboarding it, and showed it around to my colleagues here at Pixar. A few of them suggested that I show it to Lindsey Collins, the Executive Producer of Sparkshorts.
After I pitched her the storyboards, she felt that it was a good candidate for the Sparkshorts program!
The Sparkshorts program is designed to find new voices within the studio and to give them an opportunity to tell their story by directing and creating a short film with a limited budget and limited timeframe. In a way, it was like an independent film made within Pixar.
Finally the day has come! @Pixar #SparkShorts #PixarFloat premieres on @DisneyPlus tomorrow! I’m super excited for our #ShortFilm being out in the world! I say “our” because I didn’t make “Float” on my own. I had an amazing and super talented crew, we collaborated and made something special! I am so grateful to my crew for their dedication, hard work and tremendous skill! Making “Float” was the most fun and greatest time I ever had @Pixar! I love directing and you all made it so easy to do! Thank you from the bottom of my heart #TeamFloat! ??????????
I had the idea for about eight years now, but actively working on it, I would say it was roughly three months of my own time storyboarding and then about seven months in the SparkShorts program. So definitely it was under a year!
What was the reaction at Pixar when you told them it would have Fil-Am characters? Do you envision this as a gateway to more Filipino stories to be told?
Initially, the characters that I drew for the comic book were Caucasian. It was actually a co-worker here at Pixar, who suggested that I change the characters to Filipino-American!
She said it was my story based on my relationship with my son and how will my son feel when he looks up on the screen and sees a white kid playing him. That hit me. I didn’t want my son to feel like he wasn’t worth it.
I wanted him to feel empowered and to know that he can be a hero, and that all children of color are worth it and deserve to be seen as lead characters!
I definitely envision this as a gateway for more Filipino stories to be told, because there are so many talented Filipinx Creators in the industry and we all have stories to tell.
“Float” cannot represent all of our stories, but it can pave the way for more stories to come!
I have several Filipinx stories in the works and I hope to have an opportunity to share those with the world someday!
Why do you say this is a personal story and what inspired you to tell your story to the world?
I say this is a personal story because it is based off of my relationship with my son, Alex. He was my inspiration for this story! My son is different from other kids and I wanted to tell a story that can inspire families, not just Filipino families, but all families and in fact everyone who has ever felt “different” to know that they were not alone!
That I personally know the struggles and I hope that this will inspire people in a positive way! Ultimately, the short is about a parent’s acceptance, encouragement and celebration of their child’s unique gifts!
#PixarFloat is a personal story about a #FatherAndSon and they just happen to be #Filipino! There is no magical dance number with singing Lumpia, it’s NOT that kind of film! Just sayin’ that’ll be done another time. This time it’s personal. #FilipinoAmerican ?????????????????? We have many stories to tell! This is one of them!
Tell us more about your son who is the inspiration of this film.
My son’s name is Alex. He is now 12 years old and he is a bright, fun, cool, awesome and a little bit quirky kid. I love him and he is my heart!
As a first-time director, what kind of challenges did you encounter and how did you solve them?
As a first-time director, I was unused to the vast amount of work that goes into these films. I am a story artist, so I was only accustomed to storyboarding, but once I was in the director's chair, I was responsible for moving this story along through every stage of the production of making an animated film.
Luckily for me, I had an amazing crew full of super talented professional, the best in the business! I had my producer, Krissy Cababa, who is also Pinay by the way, and she helped me through the entire production. She explained parts of the pipeline that I was unfamiliar with. When making this film, I was supported by my entire crew creatively. We made this film and I had a wonderful time crafting it with them!
Who are your heroes or inspirations in filmmaking?
My filmmaking heroes tend to be blockbuster filmmakers: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan and the Russo Brothers! I also love Animation Directors: Hayao Miyazaki, Walt Disney, Ron Clements, John Musker, all the Pixar directors, including Brad Bird, Pete Doctor, Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and of course the legendary, Ronnie del Carmen!
How long have you been at Pixar and what jobs did you handle while you are there? Who would you consider your mentors at Pixar?
I have been at Pixar 12 years now. My mentors at Pixar were Mark Andrews and Ronnie del Carmen!
What do you think audiences will get after watching this short?
I hope that audiences will get that we should love our children unconditionally, accept them for who they are and encourage and celebrate their unique gifts and talents!
If given another chance to direct another movie, what kind of movie will it be?
If given another chance at directing another movie it would be an action, comedy with heart and if I can share some of my Filipino culture that would be ideal! — LA, GMA News