Ratatouille cowriter Jim Capobianco got his chance to direct a Pixar short for the Ratatouille DVD. His Your Friend the Rat is an all new adventure for Remy and Emile, the rodent characters from the feature film.
Capobianco Gets Short With Your Friend the Rat
"The idea of the shorts for the DVD is that it’s more connected to the movie, whereas the theatrical shorts you’re going to have whole new characters and probably aren’t going to see Mike and Sully in a theatrical short," said Capobianco. "I don’t know, maybe we will. I don’t want to say never but I think that’s a place where we can explore new characters and find new directions to go with, and actually experiment a little bit with the technology."
Your Friend the Rat provided some opportunity to experiment as well. " We experimented with playing around with new medium. Well, old medium again, doing it in 2D and stop motion and stuff. But I think the idea of the DVD shorts is that they’re always connected to the movie in some form."
With Ratatouille in production for several years, Capobianco only took on the side project near the end. "It was kind of towards the last year of production. [Producer] Brad Lewis sent out an email. He was like, ‘Does anybody have ideas for the DVD?’ And I’d been on Ratatouille as a story supervisor for the first four years of the production. I had the concept then to do some kind of a short for the DVD that was kind of an edutainment kind of short, kind of keying off a lot of the research we were doing about rats and finding them kind of fascinating and going, ‘You know, there’s a lot of entertaining stuff in this and we could really make a fun short here of the vein of like ‘Our Friend the Atom’ or a Ward Kimball kind of short like the Tomorrowland series he did for Disney.’ I felt like this would be a neat kind of thing to do. And then they were looking for ideas and I suggested the idea. Brad Bird was like, ‘Yes, let’s do that. That would be a fantastic thing to do.’ And then at that point it was like, ‘Write up a script and go.’ It sort of proceeded and it took just under a year to make it from that initial pitch to the final sending it off to get mastered."
An open call to all the artists at Pixar is some pretty stiff competition, but it didn't phase Capobianco. "Like I said it started with just sending an email basically which I wrote up a little paragraph description of it going, ‘This is the idea.’ It was kind of up to Brad and Brad if they wanted to make it and they said, ‘Yeah, let’s go ahead with this.’ I just basically went, ‘I’ll give it a shot,’ and it was in their hands whether they wanted to go ahead with it or not."