Joe Ranft 1960-2005
Last drawing I did of Joe in our Story Leads meeting, July 2005
Joe Ranft died from a car accident last night. He was the very first Head of Story in feature animation and I've had many talks with him about how that came about--but the likely reason that this position continues to be necessary is because he defined the role from the very beginning and is still the very best example of how to do it. To the benefit of all subsequent feature endeavors he had been part of and all future HOS's that have had to do the job anywhere. Mighty big shoes.
When I entered the building I saw Mari, Bill and Gaylyn at the stairwell, all visibly dealing with heavy emotions. It was only when Kevin Reher walked me into my office and told me I figure why. I got the wind knocked out of me. It is a massive surge of disbelief, I cannot process it still. I searched out the story people I've served with, Jason Katz, Jim Capobianco, Matt Luhn...People cannot say much but just gave each other embraces to quell the sadness. Eventually we all met at the atrium. It is the saddest day at Pixar. The population at work had never been this silent, heavy stillness except for the sounds of grief. Ed Catmull, visibly shaken walked out to deliver the sad news. John Lasseter stood beside him but could not speak.
Joe is the very best story man ever and the best human being I've known in animation. He is mentor, friend and inspiration to all of us who do this job. The last meeting I had with Joe was a Story Lead meeting where we share the collective known knowlege of those of us who've done Head of story jobs. Great stories of how to and why. And we earmark things we want to improve. As always with Joe it was about accentuating the positive and finding what works with people. I will miss him.
Our heartfelt prayers to his family.
Pixar intranet employee listing for Joe Ranft lets you know that he was Born on March 13, 1960 and was hired at Pixar on October 5, 1992. Under this he writes in the generic getting-to-know-you questions:
What do you do at Pixar?
I draw storyboards
What did you do before you came to Pixar?
I drew lots of storyboards
What do you do when you're out having fun?
I try not to draw any storyboards, but sometimes I can't help myself.
What is your favorite quote?
"Developing a picture from back to front is a work habbit which, once aquired, becomes one of the artist's most valuable tools.
Wikipedia: Joe Ranft
Joe's brother Jerome Ranft called me early this morning, asking me to tell as many people as I could, in the LA area, about Joe's sad, untimely and tragic passing. My day has been spent breaking this horrible news to people who had not heard. I can honestly say this has been the saddest day in my 22 year career in animation. Joe and I worked together many, many times and I will never forget him. He was a true credit to his profession and there was never anyone better at it. My thoughts and prayers are with all his friends and family.
I join you in your sadness. This is a great, great loss.
(David Silverman writes)
Brother Ronnie -
We're all in a state of shock down here in LA. Your thoughtful words are a great comfort. Joe was such an extraordinary artist, teacher, and friend -- one of the nicest people ever to stroll the planet. He has entertained millions who have no idea how much Joe touched them. He has influenced legions of artists, and will influence legions more.
Getting to work closely with Joe was an honor and an education. And a hell of a lot of fun.
A sad sad day for us all.
(Ruth Ann - Joe's Sister said...)
A friend of mine forwarded this link to me yesterday. I can't tell you how much your kind words about Joe mean to all of us. My parents arrived here last night. They are devastated. My mother stayed up and read all of your comments. It was a great comfort.
Joe was not only my big brother, he was one of my best friends. I will miss him.