1989 (age 29–30)
|Alma mater||Sheridan College|
|Occupation||Storyboard artist, director|
|Employer||Pixar Animation Studios (2011-present)|
|Known for||First woman to direct a Pixar short|
Domee Shi (//; Chinese: 石之予; pinyin: Shí Zhīyǔ; born 1989) is a Chinese-born Canadian storyboard artist and director for Pixar since 2011. She has contributed to multiple films, including Inside Out (2015), Incredibles 2 (2018), and Toy Story 4 (2019). Outside of her storyboard career, Shi directed the 2018 short film Bao, becoming the first woman to direct a short film for Pixar. Bao won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards, and also earned nominations for the 43rd Annie Awards, the International Online Cinema Awards, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Early life and education
Shi was born in 1989 in Chongqing, China as an only child before immigrating to Canada at the age of two with her parents. She spent half a year in Newfoundland before moving to Toronto, where she grew up learning about art from her father. She was influenced by her father, who had been a college professor of fine arts and a landscape painter in China. About her mother, Shi says that "She’s not a super outwardly emotional person," but Shi took a lot of inspiration and guidance from her mom when directing Bao. Shi recalls that “My Chinese mom was always making sure I never wandered away too far, that I was safe.” She also states that her favorite dumplings are “the boiled pork and chives dumplings that my mom would make for me growing up.” During her childhood, Shi watched many Studio Ghibli and Disney films, which exposed her to Asian cinema and animation.
As a high school student, Shi binge-watched anime, read manga, and became the Vice President of her school's anime club. She joined online art communities and uploaded her fan artwork to DeviantArt. This became her first exposure to an environment of like-minded people that helped her establish a network with other artists. "I could follow artists, and I could email them. In the past, you'd have to be in California or know a guy who was friends with this other guy that worked at Disney or something," said Shi. Thus Shi was inspired to enroll at Sheridan College for her post-secondary education.
At Sheridan, Shi studied animation, graduating in 2011. During her second year attending school, she enrolled in a course taught by Nancy Beiman, whose class she credits for her pursuit of storyboarding. Shi created a short film for an assignment during her last year at Sheridan. In 2009, she undertook an internship with Chuck Gammage Animation as a clean-up artist, inbetweener, storyboard artist, and animator.
After graduating, Shi worked briefly as a cartooning instructor with an emphasis on character design and comic book creation. In 2011, she accepted a three-month internship at Pixar as a storyboard artist. This was her second attempt, having initially been turned down by the animation studio and others, such as Disney and DreamWorks. Shi wrote an animated webcomic series titled My Food Fantasies in 2014, in which she drew "outlandish" situations involving food. Shi later said that she developed her interest in writing stories about food while making My Food Fantasies. The first feature film she worked on with Pixar was Inside Out (2015), on which she served as a storyboard artist. After briefly working on The Good Dinosaur, Shi began working on Toy Story 4 in 2015. She also drew storyboards for the 2018 film Incredibles 2, where she worked on a sequence featuring the characters Jack-Jack and Edna Mode.
The short film Bao was developed as a "side-project" before and during Shi's full-time work on Inside Out. Bao, alongside two other projects, was eventually pitched to her mentor, Pete Docter, and Pixar for support. Bao was approved in 2015, making Shi the first woman to direct a short film for the studio. The eight-minute short debuted at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, where it preceded Incredibles 2 in theaters. Shi became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film when she won for Bao in 2019.
As of January 2019, Shi is currently in the early development stages of a feature film at Pixar.
Shi is influenced by her father's art, as he was her art teacher while growing up. “Like, I asked him what he thought [of the film] and he said, 'I really liked it, but I also have notes for you.' And I was like, Ah, that’s my classic dad.”
Shi says that most of her ideas come from specific cultures (especially with respect to food) around her. Because audiences started to appreciate other stories with different background and culture after Sanjay's Super Team and Coco, Shi thinks it important to draw upon various sources and background in order to create uniqueness in film.
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards||2019||Best Animated Short Film||Bao||Won|||
|Annie Awards||2016||Outstanding Achievement in Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production||Inside Out||Nominated|||
|International Online Cinema Awards||2018||Halfway Award Best Animated Film||Bao||Nominated|||
|Tribeca Film Festival||2018||Best Narrative Short||Bao||Nominated|||
|2015||Inside Out||Storyboard artist||Pixar animated feature film|
|2015||The Good Dinosaur||Storyboard artist||Pixar animated feature film|
|2018||Incredibles 2||Storyboard artist||Pixar animated feature film|
|2018||Bao||Writer and director||Pixar animated short film|
|2019||Purl||Additional voices||Pixar animated short film|
|2019||Kitbull||Rosana Sullivan's story trust||Pixar animated short film|
|2019||Toy Story 4||Storyboard artist||Pixar animated feature film|
- on YouTube
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- "Life After Sheridan: Animator Domee Shi – The Sheridan Sun". sheridansun.sheridanc.on.ca. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
- Zack, Jessica (20 June 2018). "Pixar's 'Incredibles 2' short preview 'Bao' powered by women – and food". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
- Rougeau, Michael (19 June 2018). "The Story Behind Bao, Pixar's Cutest Short Film Yet". Gamespot.
- Desowitz, Bill (12 June 2018). "'Bao': Pixar Finally Welcomes Female Empowerment into Its Shorts Program". IndieWire. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
- Chai, Barbara. "She was one of the only women in the story room for 'Inside Out.' Now she's the first woman to direct a Pixar short". MarketWatch. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
- "Domee Shi Will Be the First Woman to Direct a Pixar Short Film with Bao". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
- Yglesias, Matthew. "Oscars 2019 milestones: Black Panther and Roma broke boundaries". Vox. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "The Art of Animation". Southwest: The Magazine. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
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- "First-Time Director Domee Shi Takes a 'Bao' in New Pixar Theatrical Short". Animation World Network. Retrieved 30 October 2018.