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Tuesday
Jun152010

Teddy Newton

In the early 1990’s, an animation student at the California Institute of the Arts dropped out of school.

So he was a failure, right?

Next, he landed a job at Walt Disney Animation Studios—and got fired from it. (His quirky sense of humor led him to spend his last day of work posing as a washroom attendant at the door of the men’s room, offering co-workers a selection of soaps and towels, never breaking character.)

So then he was really a failure, right?

He did design work for a Warner Bros. animated feature film that flopped at the box office. He went on to finance and co-write The Trouble With Lou (2001), a black-and-white, live-action feature film about a young man’s problem with … ummm … onanism. It quickly vanished into obscurity.

Then he was really, really a failure, right?

Actually, no. After he impressed Brad Bird with his work on that Warner Bros. film, The Iron Giant (which has since found a loyal following), Bird brought him to Pixar to work on The Incredibles. Since then, he’s also done character designs for Ratatouille and Presto. And this weekend, his short Day & Night will almost certainly be the most-watched film in multiplexes across America, together with Toy Story 3

Readers of The Pixar Touch know that all of the leading lights of Pixar’s founding—Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, John Lasseter—had been let go from their jobs at one time or another. They’d all had what Walt Disney described as an important ingredient of his own success: “a good hard failure when you’re young.” Teddy Newton is only the latest figure in Pixar’s story to exemplify that “a good hard failure” isn’t the end of the journey.