‘Piper’ Director Opens Up About ‘Finding Dory’ Short About Adorable Bird

Piper. The name itself may not ring any bells in your memory bank. That is, of course, unless you have already seen Finding Dory.

As many Pixar fans know, some of the best moments of their films over the years have been during the shorts that played before the opening credits. Even though the shorts (in most cases) have absolutely nothing to do with the Pixar movie that they are preceding, they are still enjoyable, engaging and emotionally-stirring for most moviegoers.

Pixar was able to maintain their impressive track record of creating and distributing emotionally uplifting shorts with the recent release of Piper.

Moments before moviegoers are reunited with their old friends Marlon, Dory and Nemo from the 2003 Pixar hit film, Finding Nemo, they have the pleasure and privilege of being introduced to an adorable bird named Piper for the very first time.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the inspiration for Piper actually came from a location that is very close to Pixar Studios. The report states that Alan Barillaro – a longtime Pixar animator and the director of Piper – run alongside the shore less than a mile away from Pixar Studios, which is located in Emeryville, California.

During his run, Barillaro would pay close attention to the thousands of birds that flew away from the water. In between the crushing waves approaching the shore, however, the birds would quickly return in order to find food to eat.

That inspiring behavioral pattern gave Barillaro the idea which eventually became the main story of Piper.

“Seeing the way these sandpipers react to waves and run, I always felt, ‘Gosh, that’s a film, that’s a character.’ It’s always fun to show a world we’re familiar with but from a different perspective. We’ve all been to the beach, but have we ever viewed water from just an inch off the sand? That could be very fearful from a bird’s perspective.”

Alan Barillaro first began working with animation software as a challenge – a challenge that he personally made and accepted for himself. According to Entertainment Weekly, the challenge consisted of designed a non-speaking character that was afraid of water, but had to overcome his fear in order to feed itself and survive.

The concept of the story expanded over time as Barillaro and his team at Pixar worked hard to develop it. The underlying story focused on a child learning all about the food chain from observing its parent along with another child. Barillaro referred to it as the “kid at the playground feeling.”

“You fall down and you feel so small, but you look and see someone even smaller than you brush themselves off and tackle something, and learn from that in your own way. It was important to me to stay in the kid world and see the world from Piper’s eyes, and not be from the human perspective.”

When it came to the music for Piper, Barillaro apparently landed his first-choice singer: Adrian Belew, a longtime musician with impressive career highlights that paired him with such stars as Frank Zappa and David Bowie over the years.

According to the report, Barillaro was already using Belew’s music as a placeholder within his first original story. Ironically, Adrian reached out to Barillaro expressing his desire to work on a project for Pixar. Nearly three years went into developing Pixar – a lengthy process which eventually led to the decision to premiere the adorable short before Finding Dory.

[Image Credit: Albert Rodriguez/Getty Images]