You might have heard of the famous director of Ratatouille and The Incredibles, Brad Bird, but did you know that he went to Corvallis High just like us?
Life at CHS
As a Spartan, he was very active, playing football in the fall, swimming in the winter, and playing tennis in the spring. Although he eventually became very involved at CHS, he says he was shutting down when he first started. He wasn’t included in the yearbook because he missed picture day, and he recalled, “That was really symbolic for me”. Although he was on the staff of the Chintimini, our yearbook, the only indication he attended CHS that year was that some of the photographs that he took were in the yearbook.
However, he was having the time of his life by senior year and was taking all sorts of fun electives and classes because he had finished all of his required courses. Like many successful Spartans, he was on the High-O-Scope staff (he drew comics!). Later in his high school career, he met with his counselor to talk about about future job possibilities and how to get there. When Bird said he wanted to do something in the movie making industry, his counselor tried to convince him to make a backup plan too. After several minutes of probing questions, his counselor finally asked him what he would do if movies didn’t exist. He responded, “Well, I would have to invent them!”
Living in Corvallis
Bird says Corvallis was a great place to grow up because it has a lot of things most places this size don’t. The big games that come to OSU, people performing in local concerts, the library, and so much more. “Maybe it rains a little too long but it’s a gorgeous place to grow up and it’s a wonderful town.” He has fond memories of Corvallis High and even gives a couple nods to Corvallis in the first Incredibles movie (which he says is his most fun film that he’s worked on so far!).
Bird made his first movie at age thirteen, when he had a mentor from Disney named Milt Kahl, who he calls, “one of the best [animators] that’s ever lived”. Kahl was one of the most influential people in Bird’s life. Bird recalls, “He didn’t just talk big, he was somebody who could execute and he had tremendously high standards.” Kahl played a huge part in getting Bird to where he is now and gave him a lot of meaningful advice.
On his favorite movie list – although there are way too many for him to name! – are all Disney animated features in general (obviously!), James Bond, The Godfather, French Connection and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Currently he’s working on the Incredibles 2, which opens in theaters on June 15th!
“In places like Corvallis, people often believe that those things are not within reach,” he says. “Movies were considered something that was impossible and that was on another planet, in another galaxy that was unreachable, and that’s not the way that my parents thought, it’s not the way that I thought and I’m glad that I didn’t share that belief because I wouldn’t be where I am and I’m happy doing what I’m doing right now.” His number one piece of advice for students, is to “move towards what makes you passionate, what lights you up and what absorbs your thoughts. What you like to think about when nobody’s pressing you. Those things are the things that make your life worthwhile.”
Follow what lights you up, what excites you, and what interests you. Brad Bird is living proof that you can do anything you set your mind to even if it seems impossible to some, and it can all start in this town at our very own school.