Two Pixar greats headlined DigiCon 2023 and made us cry. Here’s what they shared.

Saab Lariosa

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Two Pixar greats headlined DigiCon 2023 and made us cry. Here’s what they shared.
Did you know a Filipino worked on the storyboards of some of our favorite Pixar films?

What do you get when you put two Gen Zs in a room with the people who made the films from their childhood? Waterworks, and a whole lot of lessons.

For their first physical event in seven years, this year’s DigiCon flew out Pixar legends – animators Matthew Luhn and Ronnie del Carmen – to share what it takes to be a true storyteller.

In case you didn’t know, DigiCon is the Digital Marketing Association of the Philippines’ (DMAP) flagship event on marketing, advertising, and digital communication. With its theme of ‘DIGIMAX,’ this year’s DigiCon highlights the exciting foray into digital entertainment as the future of content.

From TikTok live-selling, merging Canva and AI, to the future of e-wallets – the three-day event explored what it means to make content in this hyper-adaptive age. But first, they went back to basics with two visual storytellers in their prime.

“Whoever makes the best stories wins”

Serving as one of the headliners during DigiCon’s first day, Matthew Luhn’s talk was a story in and of itself. From his roots as the son of a toy store owner to animating a little movie called Toy Story, Matthew shared the road to being a lead animator at Pixar Studios.

His talk delved into the technical and essential side of storytelling. Crafting a story, he shared, was like going on a rollercoaster ride – the tension and release that comes with going on a journey. 

“Great stories are about transformation,” Matthew shared. “Stories are only meaningful when they’re memorable, impactful, and personal.” 

True enough, you can see it through his work as the lead animator or part of the animating team in Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and Up, among others:

“It’s a visual storytelling world we live in,” Matthew shared. “How you change people is by making them feel something and the best way of making them feel is by telling a story.” 

The makings of a Pixar movie

Just like Matthew, Ronnie del Carmen proved that what we’re meant to do might always have been there all along.

Ronnie spent every single one of his early birthdays asking his parents for a chance to go to Disneyland. And every single year, they said no. They lived in Cavite, after all.

The DigiCon crowd looked on with bright eyes as Ronnie chronicled his way up to the animation industry by being at the right place at the right time and never saying “no” to new opportunities. 

He got his first stint as a painter on the set of the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which was filming in the Philippines at the time. There, he met the people who would believe and support him as he made his way to the United States to pursue animation full-time.

His first big break was as a storyboard artist in a show that you might have watched growing up, Batman: The Animated Series. 

His career then leaped from working on The Prince of Egypt, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up, to eventually co-directing 2015’s Inside Out. He recently voiced (and was partially inspired by) Bernie Lumen in 2023’s Elementals. 

“Working and doing and learning is the best thing for you,” he shared, as he himself didn’t object to any opportunities that came his way as a budding creative.

Ronnie ended the talk by showing us a clip from one of the final scenes of Up that he drafted. At the time, Ronnie’s own father was sick and could no longer speak. In the rough sketch Ronnie made, a character named Carl wordlessly leafs through a photo album that he and his wife made. The last page reads: “Thanks for the adventure – now go have a new one!” 

There were no words needed, and Ronnie’s father gave him a thumbs up as the scene ended. He died a few months later.

Ronnie didn’t mention it, but the resemblance between his late father and Carl is uncanny. Maybe we are all stories in the end, and it was Ronnie’s way of sharing his father’s. You can watch the scene here.

“All of our lives are stories we have to connect,” Ronnie concluded as the room wiped their eyes. “Think about your own story, it matters.”

At the end of their talks, Matthew and Ronnie left this writer with the impression that there can be a connection between content and heart. They didn’t necessarily set out to create blockbuster movies and endless merchandise, but because of the vision they had and persistence to keep creating, they were granted what every modern content creator seeks out: people’s time and trust.

The rest of DigiCon was a refreshing series of talks and breakout sessions from the country’s leading digital names on gaining that same time and trust – as a brand, business, and beyond. At the heart of each talk, the message remains: the world is changing, and we must learn from the past with the methods of tomorrow to adapt.

No matter how far we go with tech, DigiCon 2023 proves that a good story – no matter where you’re from and what tool you use – is what makes for true entertainment. – Rappler.com

DMAP would like to take this opportunity to thank their valued sponsors and partners for making DigiCon 2023: DIGIMAX happen.

GCash, Grab Ads, Marriott, McDonald’s Philippines, Mineski Global, Petal Ads, from Huawei, and Unilever Philippines as Gold Sponsors

Canva Philippines, DoubleVerify, MAD Agency, Meltwater, NBA, Seven A.D., and  Smart Communications, Inc. as Silver Sponsors.

Of course, this event won’t be complete without the support of media partners.

Starting off with Platinum media partners, GMA New Media, Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC), and The New Channel (TNC).  Gold Media Partners, CNN Philippines, DOOH Philippines, Moving Walls Philippines, One Mega Group, and Podcast Network Asia.

Silver Media Partners: adobo magazine, BusinessWorld, Certified Digital Marketer (CDM), David and Golyat, inquirer.Net, Kroma Entertainment, The Business Manual, The Manila Times, The Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, and Rappler.

DigiCon 2023: DIGIMAX is thrilled also to have been partnered with BayaniChain, BAYCkada – Philippines’, Bored Ape & Mutant Ape Community, Cebu Pacific, Devant, Ellana Cosmetics, Ginebra, Globaltronics, Luxe Beauty & Wellness Group, Modern Ad,  Primer Group, Unilab Consumer Health and UL Skin Sciences Inc.

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Digital Marketing Association of the Philippines’ (DMAP)

Since 2007, the Internet Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) has spearheaded initiatives to drive digital learning, skills development, and camaraderie in the advertising and marketing industries.