The Wall Street Journal reports this week on Pixar's purpose in making short films. For instance, Lava is the short film that runs before the newest Pixar feature film, Inside Out. The short films are a wonderful opportunity for experimentation. As a result, they help fuel the creative process at the highly successful film studio. Here's one excerpt from the article:
[Making short films] is a wonderful opportunity to step out and do something you may not be able to do on a feature, really take some chances,” said Mr. Murphy, a senior animator at the studio. “I think each short really represents the tastes of the individual that directed them.”
The article highlights one additional value from making these short films. It enables Pixar to develop and evaluate its talent. Providing young directors and animators an opportunity to create a short film is a relatively inexpensive way to see who might be ready to work on a feature film. Moreover, it enables Pixar to grow and develop those high potentials. They learn by doing in an environment in which they can take some risks. Every firm should be looking for opportunities to experiment as a means of fostering innovation, but they should also be examining how these experiments can be a useful means of nurturing and testing younger talent.