Creator / Brad Bird

"Itís not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kidsí fairy tale. But it doesnít do one thing. And, next time I hear, ĎWhatís it like working in the animation genre?í Iím going to punch that person!Ē
Brad Bird on the DVD commentary of The Incredibles

Phillip Bradley "Brad" Bird (September 24, 1957-) is a screenwriter/director from Kalispell, Montana. His experience lies mostly within the realm of animation, and he's also known as one of the directors to actually bob and weave his way around the concept of the Animation Age Ghetto, due to most of his works looking aesthetically cartoony, but having a maturity and depth that rivals most live-action pieces. Bird got his start working as an animator on Animalympics, Disney's The Fox and the Hound and Martin Rosen's The Plague Dogs, and moved on to work with Steven Spielberg in his Amazing Stories anthology series, notably with a short titled "Family Dog". He got his big break after he managed to grab the attention of Tracey Ullman, and began work alongside Matt Groening on a crude animated series that premiered on her show, called The Simpsons.

Bird's later claims to fame include two films that captured his love of the classic comic book stories, The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, the latter of which was the beginning of his tenure at Pixar. His next animated film was the Pixar-produced Ratatouille. He then moved into live-action by directing Mission: Impossible Ė Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible films, which is his live-action debut. The film has received extremely positive reviews, particularly for its action scenes. His most recent project is Tomorrowland, a film for Disney inspired by the area of the Disney Theme Parks, and he's currently working on a sequel to The Incredibles.

Tropes demonstrated by Brad Bird and his works include:

  • Berserk Button: Bird has vowed to punch out the next person who calls animation a "genre", as he believes it is a medium that can tell any kind of story.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Originally, Edna Mode of The Incredibles was to be played by a woman, though Pixar struggled finding an actress they liked. Eventually Lily Tomlin was asked, but when she heard Bird do his impression of how he wanted the voice to sound like, she suggested he do it instead.
  • Descended Creator: For The Incredibles, as he was the only one who could properly do Edna's accent.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: It would appear that Bird loves to take his childhood to pieces and play with the bits.
    • Reconstruction: But then he puts them back together better than ever.
      • The Incredibles: In the first few minutes, he shows the negative effects of superheroes/villains on society, buries them Watchmen-style, then shows how difficult normal life is for supers like the Silver age. Then he gives them a villain to fight and shows that heroes aren't the problem.
  • The Fifties: Two of his movies take place in the fifties and deal with specific sentiments of the period. The Iron Giant involves the looming fear of the Cold War and also invokes a bit of the classic sci-fi made during then. The Incredibles involves the "everyone should be equal, ordinary, and a nuclear family" value then.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Making-of videos show him at his most passionate (which you really need to be for filmmaking).
    • His praise of Pixar's software engineering department, whom he considers their true unsung heroes, borders on Large Ham:
    "If I were one of these people, I'd be like 'HEY!! I JUST MADE A MIRACLE HAPPEN!!'"
  • Signature Style:
    • His animated films feature classically animated (i.e., full, Disney-quality animation) characters with broad, graphic designs. Unlike most CGI movie characters, the characters in his two Pixar films actually look as though they were drawings first before being modeled in the computer.
    • He has a distinct way of directing dialogue that succeeds at the difficult task of making the animated character and the voice appear one and the same.
  • Take That: Has this to say about other studios who try to be like Pixar:
    Everyone in Hollywood says they wish they could do it like Pixar, but they really donít. Thereís no secret at Pixar, but there is a belief in letting people pursue something with passion and take chances, and most of Hollywood, really, doesnít like that. Itís too scary. Some studio executives will say they love obsessive creators who take risks, but really most of them would rather play it safe. Projects cost a lot of money and people would rather follow patterns they know and make things safe and accessible. Hollywood wants there to be a math formula for making hit films. To make something really great and different and interesting means taking risks and following these ideas in your head.