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Pete Docter, far left, directed Pixar's Up which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2010. AP Photo/Mark J Terrill

Passion and hard work: Pixar filmmaker's inspirational letter to kids

Pete Docter, maker of Monsters, Inc. and Up, is a good man to turn to for career advice…

Pixar keeps finding new ways to tug at heartstrings.

A letter just popped up online at, written by Pixar filmmaker Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”) in which he encourages middle schoolers (students between the ages of 11-14) not to give up on their dreams and do what they love.

This is the transcript (we’d suggest clicking through to to see the cool drawings Docter put on the actual letter).

Dear Mr Kelsey,

What would I tell a class of Middle School students?

When I was in Middle School, I liked to make cartoons. I was not the best artist in my class — Chad Prins was way better — but I liked making comic strips and animated films, so after High school it was no surprise that I got into The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a school that taught animation.

CalArts only accepts 25 students a year, and it attracts some of the best artists in the country. Suddenly I went from being one of the top artists in my class to being one of the absolute worst. Looking at the talented folks around me, I knew there was no way I would make it as a professional. Everyone else drew way better than I did. And I assumed the people who were the best artists would become the top animators.

But I loved animation, so I kept doing it. I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends’ films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.

Meanwhile, many of the people who could draw really well kind of rested around and didn’t do a whole lot. It made me angry, because if I had their talent, man, the things I would do with it!

Years later, a lot of those guys who probably still draw really well don’t actually work in animation at all. I don’t know what happened to them. As for me, I got hired at Pixar Animation Studios, where I got to work on Toy Story 1 and 2, direct Monsters, Inc., and Up (due out May 29th this year).

So, Middle School Student, whatever you like doing, do it! And keep doing it. Work hard! In the end, passion and hard work beats out natural talent. (And anyway, if you love what you do, it’s not really “work” anyway.)

Good luck,

Pete Docter

In case you needed more convincing of what an awesome person Docter is, check out this other handwritten letter the director wrote to a fan, as featured on Letters of Note.

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