WATCH: Pixar releases two new short films as part of its new SparkShorts animated indie film series

By Ari Rees

Last month, Pixar announced the launch of a new indie short film series called SparkShorts, and this week we’re finally getting to see what they look like.

What are SparkShorts?: SparkShorts are short films created by Pixar employees and artists who are given limited funding from Pixar and six months to create films that speak to their personal experiences, according to Pixar.

  • Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios, said in a statement, “These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”
  • The new short series is designed to “discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflow,” according to Morris.

How they differ from regular shorts: Pixar’s SparkShorts film creators appear to have a little more freedom to stray from the Pixar look and brand. That means the shorts may contain animation styles we haven’t seen before and more adult themes.

The first film, “Purl,” published on YouTube on Feb. 4, follows a plucky ball of yarn as she navigates her first day on the job and tries to fit in in a male-dominated work environment.

  • “Purl” features edgier elements we don’t usually see in Pixar films, such as double entendre, mild swearing and vomit, indicative of the series’ departure from Pixar’s usual style.
  • Kristen Lester, who directed “Purl,” said the film is based on her experience being in animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys,” Lester said. “And then I came to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

Warning: The short video contains mild swearing and references to alcohol.

“Smash and Grab,” the second SparkShorts film, was released on YouTube Monday.

  • According to Pixar, “Smash and Grab” follows “two antiquated robots who risk everything for freedom and for each other after years of toiling away inside the engine room of a towering locomotive.”

The next SparkShorts film, “Kitbull” will release on Feb. 18, according to Polygon.

  • Future SparkShorts films will premiere on Disney Plus, according to Pixar.

To see a full lineup of the upcoming SparkShorts films, click here.