Docter in 2015
Peter Hans Docter
October 9, 1968
|Alma mater||California Institute of the Arts|
|Occupation||Animator, director, writer, producer, voice actor|
|Employer||Pixar Animation Studios (1990–present)|
|Title||Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios|
Peter Hans Docter (born October 9, 1968) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer, voice actor and chief creative officer of Pixar. He is best known for directing the Pixar animated feature films Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015) and the upcoming Soul (2020), and as a key figure and collaborator at Pixar. He has been nominated for eight Oscars (two wins thus far for Up and Inside Out – Best Animated Feature), seven Annie Awards (winning five), a BAFTA Children's Film Award (which he won) and a Hochi Film Award (which he won). He has described himself as a "geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons".
Docter was born in Bloomington, Minnesota, the son of Rita Margaret (Kanne) and David Reinhardt Docter. His mother's family is Danish American. He grew up introverted and socially isolated, preferring to work alone and having to remind himself to connect with others. He often played in the creek beside his house, pretending to be Indiana Jones and acting out scenes. A junior-high classmate later described him as "this kid who was really tall, but who was kind of awkward, maybe getting picked on by the school bullies because his voice change at puberty was very rough".
Both his parents worked in education: his mother, Rita, taught music and his father, Dave, was a choral director at Normandale Community College. He attended Nine Mile Elementary School, Oak Grove Junior High, and John F. Kennedy High School in Bloomington. Unlike his two sisters, Kirsten Docter, who is now the violist of the Cavani String Quartet, and Kari Docter, a cellist with the Metropolitan Opera, Docter was not particularly interested in music, although he learned to play the double bass and played with the orchestras for the soundtracks of Monsters, Inc. and Up.
Docter taught himself cartooning, making flip books and homemade animated shorts with a family movie camera. He later described his interest in animation as a way to "play God", making up nearly living characters. Cartoon director Chuck Jones, producer Walt Disney, and cartoonist Jack Davis were major inspirations.
He spent about a year at the University of Minnesota studying both philosophy and making art before transferring to the California Institute of the Arts, where he won a Student Academy Award for his production "Next Door" and graduated in 1990. Although Docter had planned to work for Walt Disney Animation Studios, his best offers came from Pixar and from the producers of The Simpsons. He did not think much of Pixar at that time, and later considered his choice to work there a strange and unusual one.
Before joining Pixar, Docter had created three non-computer animations, Next Door, Palm Springs, and Winter. All three shorts were later preserved by the Academy Film Archive. He was a fan of the company's early short films, but he knew nothing about them otherwise. He commented in an October 2009 interview, "Looking back, I kind of go, what was I thinking?"
He started at Pixar in 1990 at the age of 21 after Joe Ranft recommended him for John Lasseter, and began work the day after his college graduation as the tenth employee at the company's animation group and its third animator. He first met owner Steve Jobs when Jobs came to lay off some older workers. Docter instantly felt at home in the tight-knit atmosphere of the company. He has said, "Growing up ... a lot of us felt we were the only person in the world who had this weird obsession with animation. Coming to Pixar you feel like, 'Oh! There are others!'"
Docter had been brought in with limited responsibilities, but John Lasseter quickly assigned him larger and larger roles in writing, animation, sound recording, and orchestra scoring. He was one of the three key screenwriters behind the concept of Toy Story, and partially based the character of Buzz Lightyear on himself. He had a mirror on his desk and made faces with it as he conceptualized the character.
I like the more character-driven stuff, and Paper Moon brought that home to me in a way that I had not seen in live action, really focusing on the whole story just about characters. It was almost theatrical in the same way you might see a stage show because you're locked in a room. It's got to be about characters, and yet it was so cinematic, a film that couldn't be done in any other medium. It just kind of blew my socks off.
Docter has been an integral part of some of Pixar's most seminal works, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc., all of which received critical acclaim and honors. He contributed to these animated films as a co-author to the scripts, and worked with CGI stalwarts such as John Lasseter, Ronnie del Carmen, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, and Joe Ranft. Docter has referred to his colleagues at Pixar as a bunch of "wild stallions".
In 2004, he was asked by John Lasseter to direct the English translation of Howl's Moving Castle. Docter made his directorial debut with Monsters, Inc.—the first Pixar movie not directed by Lasseter—, which occurred right after the birth of his first child, Nick. Docter has said that the abrupt move from a complete, single-minded devotion to his career to parenting drove him "upside down" and formed the inspiration for the storyline. Docter then directed the 2009 film Up, released on May 29, 2009. He based the protagonist of Up partially on himself, based on his frequent feelings of social awkwardness and his desire to get away from crowds to contemplate. Following the success of Up, Docter and fellow Pixar veterans John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich as well as long-time collaborator and director Brad Bird were honored with the Golden Lion Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Docter directed the 2015 film Inside Out to critical acclaim.
Docter appeared at Comic-Con 2008 and the 2009 WonderCon.
In May 2009, Docter remarked retrospectively to Christianity Today that he had lived "a blessed life" so far. The A.V. Club has called him "almost universally successful". He has been nominated for eight Oscars (winning two), three Annie Awards (winning two), four BAFTA Film Awards (winning two), a British Academy Children's Award (which he won), and a Hochi Film Award (which he won). Accepting his Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he said, "Never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this." Docter served as Vice-President of Creativity at Pixar Animation Studios through June 2018, and following Lasseter's step-down from the role, is the studio's chief creative officer. Also in June 2018, TheWrap reported that Docter plans to complete the film he is currently working on.
Docter is a fan of anime, particularly the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Docter has said that Miyazaki's animation has "beautifully observed little moments of truth that you just recognize and respond to". He is also a fan of the work done by his competitors at DreamWorks as well. Referring to the competitive environment, he has said: "I think it's a much healthier environment when there is more diversity".
Docter is also a devout Christian. Though he incorporates his personal morality into his work, he has said that he does not intend to ever make a movie with an explicitly religious message. About the relationship between his faith and his filmmaking, Docter has said:
I don't think people in any way, shape, or form like to be lectured to. When people go to a movie, they want to see some sort of experience of themselves on the screen. They don't come to be taught. So in that sense, and in terms of any sort of beliefs, I don't want to feel as though I'm ever lecturing or putting an agenda forth.
- Winter (1988) – Director
- Palm Springs (1989) – Director / Voice of Sigmund Dinosaur
- Cranium Command (1989) – Animator
- Next Door (1990) – Director
- Toy Story (1995) – Story / Story Artist / Head Animator
- Geri's Game (1997) – Animator
- A Bug's Life (1998) – Additional Storyboard Artist
- Toy Story 2 (1999) – Story
- Monsters, Inc. (2001) – Director / Story / Additional Voices
- Mike's New Car (2002) – Director / Story
- Boundin' (2003) – Special Thanks
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004) – English Dub Director / Executive Producer (U.S. production)
- The Incredibles (2004) – Additional Voices
- Presto (2008) – Special Thanks
- WALL-E (2008) – Story / Voice of Lifeguard Bot / Senior Creative Team
- Partly Cloudy (2009) – Special Thanks
- Up (2009) – Director / Story / Writer / Voice of Kevin and Campmaster Strauch
- Dug's Special Mission (2009) – Executive Producer
- George and A.J. (2009) – Executive Producer
- Let's Pollute (2010) — Bassist
- Toy Story 3 (2010) – Senior Creative Team
- La Luna (2011) – Special Thanks
- The Muppets (2011) – Creative consultant
- Brave (2012) – Executive Producer / Senior Creative Team
- The Blue Umbrella (2013) – Special Thanks
- Monsters University (2013) – Executive Producer / Senior Creative Team
- Party Central (2013) – Executive Producer
- Lava (2014) – Special Thanks
- Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) – Special Thanks
- Inside Out (2015) – Director / Story / Writer / Voice of Father's Anger / Additional Voices
- Riley's First Date? (2015) – Executive Producer / Voice of Father's Anger
- Sanjay's Super Team (2015) – Special Thanks
- Lou (2017) – Executive Producer
- Bao (2018) – Executive Producer
- Purl (2019) – Special Thanks
- Kitbull (2019) – Special Thanks
- Toy Story 4 (2019) – Executive Producer / Story treatment input
- Frozen II (2019) – Special Thanks
- Onward (2020) – Executive Producer
- Soul (2020) – Director / Executive Producer / Screenwriter / Story
Critical, public and commercial reception to films Docter has directed as of December 17, 2015.
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||CinemaScore||Budget||Box office|
|Monsters, Inc.||96% (192 reviews)||78 (34 reviews)||A+||$115 million||$577.4 million|
|Up||98% (281 reviews)||88 (37 reviews)||A+||$175 million||$735.1 million|
|Inside Out||98% (301 reviews)||94 (48 reviews)||A||$175 million||$857.6 million|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|1995||Toy Story||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|||
|2001||Monsters, Inc.||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|||
|2002||Mike's New Car||Best Animated Short Film||Nominated|||
|2008||WALL-E||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|||
|2009||Up||Best Animated Feature||Won|||
|Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2015||Inside Out||Best Animated Feature||Won|||
|Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|1996||Toy Story||Best Individual Achievement in Animation||Won|
|2000||Toy Story 2||Outstanding Achievement in Writing||Won|
|2002||Monsters, Inc.||Directing in a Feature Production||Nominated|
|2010||Up||Directing in a Feature Production||Won|
|Writing in a Feature Production||Nominated|
|2016||Inside Out||Directing in a Feature Production||Won|
|Writing in a Feature Production||Won|
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- "End of an Era: Inside Pixar on the Eve of John Lasseter's Departure". TheWrap. June 22, 2018.
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- Cite error: The named reference
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