Last year, Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios announced and released “SparkShorts,” a special project series meant to make space for storytellers to bring their characters to life and shed light on often overlooked stories. Creators of these films are given six months and some funding to try and produce an organic piece of art that speaks to the creator’s heart.
In the concept trailer, this series was called “indie filmmaking inside of Pixar.” And while the “SparkShorts” series is more accessible on the streaming platform Disney+, some of the short films thankfully started out on YouTube. So for those of us without Disney+ subscriptions who still crave some Disney magic, check out these three free YouTube gems.
Welcome to B.R.O. Capital, where men in ties rule the office with watercooler jokes and sports score talk. Everything seems comfortable in the all-white, all-male office, until Purl, a small ball of pink yarn, gets hired for a new desk job. Struggling to — quite literally — find a seat at the table, Purl is constantly told she is “too soft” and that she has to “be aggressive” if she wants to make it in the cutting-edge community.
After an abrupt metamorphosis to better blend in with her new crowd, Purl finds herself finally getting taken seriously in conference rooms and getting invited to the after-hours bar trips. It isn’t until a new ball of yarn, Lacy, starts working at the office that Purl realizes what her purpose is after all: not to force herself to change, but to change the environment.
“Purl” is the ultimate way to make workplace gender equality easy to read for children and adults alike. In just under 10 minutes, the story weaves itself from a harsh, exclusive corporation into a colorful picture of a welcoming, productive office space — one where you don’t have to knit yourself into a suit to fit in.
“Smash and Grab”
If you’re looking for the creative cross between “Wall-E” and “Tron,” this short just might hit the sweet spot. The premise centers around two lonely, outdated robots who toil day and night in the engine room of their train, trying just about everything to escape their musty cage. Unfortunately, the closest either of the two gets to freedom is glimpses of the outside world, shiny and chromatic, from the vehicle’s dark windows.
After getting particularly frustrated with its confinement, the duo cuts through its leashes and finds freedom in the form of galactic blue orbs. Pixar uses clever animation to show traditionally human emotion on the robots’ faces, whether in times of love or in times of anger. The determination to escape and the bond between the two beings prove to be stronger than what holds them hostage, and shows that sometimes, risks are worth taking.
Content warning: animal abuse
“Kitbull” showcases an animation style rarely seen in Pixar-produced films. Following the life of a stray cat making a home in someone’s backyard trash, the visuals are more cartoonish and less corporeal than viewers might expect. But this stepping outside of the box is to no one’s dismay, as the heartwarming budding relationship between a stray cat and an abused pitbull is brought to life with each movement, detail and setting.
The animals’ behaviors in the short appear pleasantly lifelike, especially when interacting with inanimate objects and making seemingly sudden decisions. When this small cat wanders into the backyard of the fierce but lovable pitbull, it feels the conviction to act tough and scare the hefty dog into leaving it alone. But when the quiet dog gets forced outside in the rain, whimpering and covered in lacerations, the stray begins to soften. The two find comfort in each other as they face the world’s neglect, so prepare to get your heart broken.
“Streaming Diaries” articles are recommendations from Daily Cal staff members on underrated content available on streaming platforms.