Nevada County roots set ‘Coco’ writer, director on creative path |

Nevada County roots set ‘Coco’ writer, director on creative path

From left, Darla K. Anderson, Lee Unkrich, John Lasseter and Adrian Molina arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Coco" at the El Capitan Theatre on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP | Invision

Growing up in Nevada County ignited a creative flame in Adrian Molina, who wrote and co-director Pixar’s newest film “Coco.”

“Where I was growing up was more isolated and rural,” Molina said, describing his South County home as being surrounded by properties where goats, sheep and other farm animals roamed. “I spent a lot of weekends watching TV, doing performances with my siblings or drawing…Out of boredom was born a lot of creativity.”

Molina graduated from Bear River High School and later studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita.

“I always loved animated films when I was growing up,” he said.

While in elementary school, Molina said, he came to the realization that “these films I loved were being made by someone. I realized that was an actual job.”

Molina got his foot in the door at Pixar more than a decade ago, when he landed an internship doing story art for the animation studio.

Later, Pixar hired him as a full-time story animator.

He’s worked on a variety of films for the company, including “Toy Story 3,” “Monsters University” and “The Good Dinosaur.” “Coco,” he said, was the first project he co-directed and took a leading role writing the screenplay.

“Coco” has two nominations for the upcoming Golden Globes, one for best animated film and one for best song. The Golden Globes will air at 5 p.m. Jan. 7 on NBC.

The movie tells the story of a young musician, Miguel, whose family forbids music because of a long-standing grudge. The story takes place on Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that celebrates ancestry and honoring friends and family members who have died.

In the movie, Miguel “finds the opportunity to heal this family hurt in a way that allows him to do what he’s always wanted to do — play music,” Molina said.

“It’s a movie about family, and knowing your family story and where you come from,” Molina said.

The movie was first released in Mexico — where it’s become the country’s highest-grossing film of all time — just days before Dia de los Muertos, which takes place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

“Coco” was released on Thanksgiving day in the U.S. It has earned more than $160 million domestically and close to $500 million worldwide.

The movie’s international success has been a huge encouragement for its creators, Molina said.

“Every time we make one of these films, we put our hearts and souls into them,” he said. “But we never know what the response is going to be…It’s the best-performing film of all time in Mexico, which feels really good.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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