Skip to content

Interview with Pixar’s Lava director Jim Murphy


This last week at SXSW in Austin, Pixar screened its new animated short Lava. There is, of course, a huge connection between technology and Pixar who developed their own animation system to help make their award winning animated films.

After the screening The Celebrity Cafe was able to sit down with Lava’s director Jim Murphy for a wide ranging interview.

On the evolution of the animated short:

I’ve always had this fascination with the Hawaiian islands, the Hawaiian people and the Hawaiian culture. The more I got into it… My wife and I took our honeymoon to the big island and it’s the only island that still has an active volcano. As I was putting ideas [together], I was just looking for ideas that really captivated my imagination and touched me emotionally.

So I had this Hawaiian thing, volcanoes and then I heard Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole’s “Over the Rainbow” and just thought, “Wow, the third component is music. If I could just put in all these ideas together and be inspired by the geology of Hawaii with the volcanoes… What if you told a love story through the mountains.” So, it kind of evolved. It’s just these ingredients that got me excited.

On Pixar’s unique choices for animation subjects:

That’s what I think Pixar does so well, is use the medium of animation to go to worlds where no other medium can go. But to also tell stories with fundamental emotions that we can all identify with and when you put them into the context of these other worlds, it really transfixes you to another place. I feel like that’s what Pixar has done, doing what Disney started.

What it’s like working with John Lasseter:

He’s the greatest collaborator in the world. When he greenlights something, he has a vision of the potential. It may not be a fully realized vision, but I think he knows what the potential is. And he constantly reminds you of that. He really inspires you to improve upon that and to really run with it.

Read the rest of the really great interview over at Do you have a favorite animated short from Pixar?