Most of us have had that moment in childhood when we see someone, usually an adult, doing something amazing and we think: “that’s what I want to be in the future!” Sometimes this pans out, but sometimes we realize we’re better suited for other things. Bobby Pontillas was one of the lucky few who was able to stick to his dream.
As a child, he had gone and seen Disney’s Tarzan and that was the moment he figured out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Since then he’s worked on notable projects like Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, and Tangled: The Series as an animator. But One Small Step, the Oscar-nominee for Best Animated Short Film, marks his debut as writer and director.
One Small Step narrates the galactic dreams and ambitions of Luna, and all that her Chinese immigrant father does to help her get there. Partly inspired by Liu Yang, the first female Chinese astronaut, this story talks about a little girl whose only wish is to be amongst the stars — and how she faces the adversity that comes along the way.
In an interview with Esquire, Pontillas shares that this tale comes from a very personal, but universal, sentiment:
I think with any of these projects the hardest part is figuring out the story. Trying to say something very personal but also universal. In the end, the film is a culmination of all our experiences. We could all relate to dreaming big and working hard to get there, but we also wanted to say a very personal thank you to the people that supported us along the way. In story meetings, we would open up and share personal stories growing up. So making the film was a very cathartic experience for us!
He also talks about how the film is dedicated to his mother, who comes from Camarines Sur:
I hope she [his mother] was proud. The film is a love letter to her and people like her. It’s saying, “I know I wasn’t always the greatest son, but thank you for always being there.” She’s a single mother to an only child and she worked hard to make sure I had a good life.
[…] Both Shaofu [producer] and I are children of immigrants. My mother came from the Philippines at a young age, joined the U.S. Navy, and started a new life in America. That could not have been easy. Our parents had to sacrifice so much for us and I don’t take that for granted.
All the heart and care with which he talks about this project truly shines through in the animated short. In just 7 minutes Bobby, with his co-director Andrew Chesworth, is able to take us through a more meaningful journey than most full-length films out there.
What did you think of One Small Step? Share your thoughts (and feelings) with us in the comments!