Jan Pinkava

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Jan Pinkava
Jan Pinkava 2018.jpg
Jan Jaroslav Pinkava

(1963-06-21) 21 June 1963 (age 56)
OccupationWriter, animator
Years active1994–present
EmployerPixar Animation Studios (1993–2006)
Laika (2007–2011)
AwardsAnimated Short Film
1998 Geri's Game
Jan Pinkava signature.gif

Jan Jaroslav Pinkava (born 21 June 1963, in Prague) is a Czech British writer and animator. He directed the Pixar short film Geri's Game and served as co-director and co-wrote the story for Ratatouille, both of which went on to win Oscars.

Early life[edit]

His family emigrated to Britain in 1969, where he obtained British citizenship.

He attended Colchester Royal Grammar School from 1974 to 1982[1] showing interest and talent in the arts, music, drama and sculpture. (One of his juvenile sculptures 'Big Cat' was acquired by Essex University and put on permanent display outside the library.)

After obtaining an 8mm movie camera for Christmas in 1975, he began experimenting with pixilation, stop-motion plasticine, paper-drawn and cel animation. He had some early prize-winning successes in animation competitions. Most notably, he won the Young Film-Maker's Competition of the Year Award 1980 on the long-running (1969 to 1984) BBC children's quiz series Screen Test for his animated short "The Rainbow".[2][3] This was hailed in 2001 on Channel 4's "100 Greatest Kids' TV shows" by ex-Screen Test presenters Michael Rodd and Brian Trueman as "the only occasion in the history of the competition where we came across a piece of film that was spectacularly professional",[4] a clip of him receiving the award is shown in the 2007 film Son of Rambow.

He went on to study Computer Science at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he graduated with first class honours and obtained his PhD,[5] During this time he also represented his university in archery, fencing and hang-gliding competitions, and continued developing his cartoon drawing skills.


After university he turned to a career in computer animation initially in London, with Digital Pictures, who specialised in TV commercials.

In 1993 he joined Pixar, and moved to the USA. His "Arrows" TV commercial for Listerine won the Gold Clio Award in 1994.

His 1997 animated short Geri's Game won the Oscar for Best Animated Short on his mother's birthday, which prompted him to dedicate the award to her long-distance, with a message in Czech[6] and won a string of other awards.

The short film "67 Aluminum Plates" was created during the 1998 Ottawa International Animation Festival by a group of volunteers under the direction of Jan Pinkava. The film is stop motion, filmed in one long day and edited the next.[7] It was shown on the closing night of the festival.

In 2000, he began work as director on Ratatouille, a European-flavoured, ultimate-outsider tale based on his original story. This was to have been his feature film debut and the first Pixar film beyond the terms of the then-expiring Pixar-Disney franchise. In 2005, Pinkava was replaced as main director by The Incredibles director Brad Bird. In an interview given in 2006, Pinkava had "no comment"[8] about this turn of events and for two years staunchly refrained from comment on the genesis of the film.[9] At the time when he was replaced, Pinkava had written the core storyline of the film and created the styling, key characters, and sets.[10] Following his departure from the project, Pinkava initially undertook other duties and then left the company.[11] In the final film, Pinkava is credited for his original story idea[12] and as the co-director. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including a nomination for Pinkava (along with Jim Capobianco and Bird) in the Best Original Screenplay category.

He subsequently worked as a director at LAIKA on his new film Little White Lie,[13] but left in 2011;[14] along with Claire Jennings, the studio's head of entertainment.[15]

In his most recent assignment, with Motorola Mobility, he came up with a new, in-phone, interactive animation genre.[16][17][18][19]

Personal life[edit]

He is the third-born of four children of the Czech polymath Václav Pinkava alias Jan Křesadlo. He has a son named Edward and another named Thomas.


  1. ^ "Colchester: Oscar winner's film screening at school". Gazette. 8 July 1999. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  2. ^ "RAINBOW". British Film Institute. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Screen Test-UK Gameshows". Retrieved October 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Oscar winner Jan Pinkava". 11 July 2012.
  5. ^ Rhys, Steffan (20 October 2007). "The Welsh days of animation great". WalesOnline.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Jan Pinkava Academy Award acceptance speech". 23 March 1998.
  7. ^ Jackson, Wendy (1 November 1998). "67 Aluminum Plates". Animation World Network. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Q&A:Jan Pinkava". Computer Arts. 25 April 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  9. ^ Jérémie Noyer (25 February 2008). "Jan Pinkava reveals "les ropes" of Ratatouille". Animated views. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  10. ^ Ron Barbagallo (28 January 2008). "The Art of Making Pixar's Ratatouille". Animation Art Conservation. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Savoring Pixar's Ratatouille". Time. 7 June 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Still image from Ratatouille's end credits".
  13. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (22 February 2010). "Two writers ready to tell 'Little White Lie'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Jan Pinkava's LinkedIn Profile". Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  15. ^ Rogoway, Mike (8 March 2011). "Laika parts with Claire Jennings, head of studio's entertainment division". Oregon Business News. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Sneak peek at Motorola Project". Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  17. ^ "... Technological Leap in Smartphone Graphics Utilization". Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  18. ^ ""Windy Day" innovative real-time animation". Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  19. ^ "...Change Storytelling as We Know It". Retrieved 29 October 2013.

External links[edit]