At Pixar Internship, Film Student Writes Her Own Joy Story
Ronni Garrett, Junior Film and Animation Major, Florham Campus
By Kenna Caprio
By Kenna Caprio
Junior Ronni Garrett spent the summer in the company of some old friends — Woody and Buzz, WALL-E and EVE, Nemo and Dory and Mike, Sully and Boo.
“I wrote my cover letter for the internship as a love letter to Pixar and focused on editorial decisions, little things that maybe other people didn’t pick up on, like in ‘Finding Nemo,’ when Marlin is searching for Nemo, and they do a wide shot of the ocean to show Marlin feeling alone.”
She went through rounds of interviews, and then she got the call inviting her to California, to Pixar Animation Studios, and maybe, just maybe, to her dreams.
As an editorial intern, Garrett worked as a second assistant on a production. “Everything I was doing directly affected the film” — she can’t say more other than it’s an upcoming project — “and I was surrounded by the most creative minds in film.”
She arranged storyboards and tracked the actors’ lines and logged them, so that editors could easily find and select the clips they needed. “Basically, my job was to make life easier for the lead editor,” Garrett says. “Editorial is the center of animation and works with every department.”
Pixar also hosts a speaker series for its interns, so they hear from animators, layout artists and even the vice president of the company. Interns attend special movie screenings and are encouraged to set up informal meetings or “tea times” with other employees to seek advice and inspiration.
Garrett connected with Axel Geddes, the editor of “Finding Dory,” and when she expressed concern over deciding whether to pursue editing or directing, he eased her apprehension. “Just do it all,” he told her. “Later, if you want to settle down and choose one thing, that’s fine. But right now, you’re young, and you have lots of creativity and stories to share, so just go do it.”
For her final project, Garrett worked on a deleted scene, receiving only the storyboards and dialogue. She had to put the scene together, as if to pitch it to a director for inclusion in the film. The director who gave her feedback on the assignment loved her work. “It was the most validating thing I’ve ever heard. It was amazing.”
Prior to Pixar, Garrett received the Marianne S. Loeb Fellowship through FDU, a scholarship that provides full tuition for a year and grants the recipient an internship at the Morris Museum in Morristown, N.J. There, Garrett gained marketing experience and worked on videos to accompany museum exhibitions.
She also made her first documentary, “Our Art Our Culture,” to cap off the internship. The short film clocks in at just under 10 minutes and explores Black art and culture through the lives, stories and work of local Black artists. Morris Museum hosted a free screening and panel discussion in April 2022. “It wasn’t the same scale, of course, but the premiere felt like a red-carpet experience,” says Garrett.
Currently, she’s getting a jump on her senior thesis, writing that script and preparing to film.
Thinking ahead, she says, “I want to make something revolutionary. Something that makes people change their viewpoint, maybe. It can be easy to ignore the news or tune out the world sometimes. But everybody wants to go to a movie theater, sit down and watch a film. That’s a big responsibility on filmmakers, making movies that leave audiences feeling open and willing to listen.”
Howard Libov, professor of film; chair of FDU’s School of the Arts; and director of the MFA in film; and Todd Rosen, director of FDU’s School of the Arts
“Little things make me smile. Someone holding the door for me — that’s just so kind. And if I get to do something for someone that makes them smile, well that makes me smile, too.”
“Interstellar,” “Inception,” “Toy Story,” “WALL-E,” the “Harry Potter” series and “Back to the Future.”