Phillip Bradley Bird (born on September 11, 1957 in Kalispell, Montana) is an American Academy Award-winning animator who is known for writing and directing the 1999 Warner Bros. film The Iron Giant and the critical and box office hits The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007) from Disney/Pixar.
Bird started his first animated cartoon at the age of 11 and finished it at 13. The film got the attention of The Walt Disney Company where, at 14, Bird was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of Disney’s legendary animators who were known collectively as the Nine Old Men. Bird graduated from Corvallis High School and after a three-year break, was given a scholarship by Disney to attend CalArts, where he met future Pixar co-founder and director John Lasseter. He left school in order to go to work at Disney, but was fired shortly after working on The Fox and the Hound in 1981 for trying to keep up quality. He went on to do animated TV series on much shorter deadlines animating for Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories and got to direct Family Dog. Bird was hired in 1989 by Klasky-Csupo and helped develop The Simpsons from one-minute shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show into a half-hour length series. In 1990, he directed the episode "Krusty Gets Busted" (which marked the first appearance of the Sideshow Bob character) and served on the show for several more years as an executive consultant. He worked on several other animated television series, including The Critic and King of the Hill before pitching to Warner Bros. to write and direct the animated film The Iron Giant. Although the film received critical acclaim, it did not do well at the box office because the studio was closing down at the time which made for a serious lack of publicity. The film garnered the attention of his old friend John Lasseter and he went up to Pixar to pitch the idea for The Incredibles (in which he also provided the voice of costume designer Edna Mode).
Bird is also the creator, writer, director, and co-producer of the Family Dog episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. In addition, Bird co-wrote the screenplay for the live-action film *batteries not included.
In 2005, Bird won an Oscar in the Best Animated Feature category for The Incredibles, and his screenplay was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay.
In the middle of 2005, Bird was asked by the Pixar management team to take over the directing job on Ratatouille from the previous director Jan Pinkava. This change was announced in March 2006, during a presentation at a Disney shareholders meeting. Bird is credited with completely changing the dynamic of the story as well as the physical attributes of the film's rat characters.
According to a segment on Good Morning America, Bird plans to direct a live action film after the release of Ratatouille. The film was released theatrically on June 29, 2007 in the United States and Canada to widely positive responses, garnering a 97% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 96/100 on metacritic. Furthermore, the film has grossed over 200 million dollars domestically and over 400 million dollars worldwide.
Bird has spoken several times about how he considers animation an art form and not a genre as it is commonly treated. In fact, when he and John Walker recorded the DVD Director's Commentary for The Incredibles, he jokingly threatened to punch the next person that he caught calling animation a genre. He believes animation can be used to tell any kind of story, not just stories for children.
Filmography as Director
The Iron Giant (1999)
The Incredibles (2004)
Jack-Jack Attack (2005)