Lyft Debuts Animated “June” – Directed by John Kahrs and Designed By Kevin Dart – Animation Scoop

Lyft Debuts Animated “June” – Directed by John Kahrs and Designed By Kevin Dart

Today, the ride-sharing service Lyft is recognizing its drivers with a commemorative ‘Lyft Driver Appreciation Day’. The company will host drivers to various “pink carpet” events in Los Angeles and Chicago. There, the company will screen June, an original short animated film inspired by real-life Lyft driver stories.

Imagined by Lyft’s creative director, Ricardo Viramontes, directed by Academy Award-winning director, John Kahrs (Disney’s Paperman), and scored by Emmy Award-winning composer, Christophe Beck (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), June tells a heartwarming story that embodies the spirit of the Lyft community. Artist Kevin Dart (Disney’s Big Hero 6, Dreamworks’ Peabody and Sherman) designed the animation.

I spoke briefly with director Kahrs, who was quick to praise Lyft’s creative director Viramontes, his producer (and wife) Gennie Rim and especially his designer/collaborator Kevin Dart.

“My partnering with Kevin was really fortuitous. When a designer is that good you let him run. His compositing crew is very savvy. They live in a space where its not traditional animation, its not illustration, not a photograph, but has photographic elements.”

“I had my notes,” says Kahrs on his directing chores, “but mine were more story based – ‘is it clear?’ ‘Are we empathizing with the main character?’ ‘Is the point of the short getting across?’

After winning an Oscar for the visual tour-de-force of Disney’s Paperman, Kahrs isn’t done blazing a new paths. “I’d love to see a feature with this level of stylization. I want to do techniques that aren’t a distraction, that support the storytelling.”

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“‘June’ connects communities by blurring lines between riders and drivers and highlighting that we are all one in the same,” said co-writer Viramontes. “This film was inspired by the Lyft drivers and passengers who make it more than just a ride, and as John Kahrs and I read through countless stories, we realized there was a strong common theme of people coming together through the Lyft experience.”

One real-life driver’s story is represented in the film through the original song, “Moving.” The song was written and performed by Atlantic Recording Artist and former Lyft driver, Sir the Baptist. In pursuit of his dreams, Sir the Baptist served Chicago’s Lyft community as a driver for more than two years. While earning income on his own schedule, the rapper established professional connections and drew inspiration for many of his songs from interactions with his passengers.

To watch June visit lyft.com/june.

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Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck

Writer, cartoon producer and author of more than 15 books on animation history. A former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney; currently on the faculty at both CalArts in Valencia and Woodbury University in Burbank.
Jerry Beck
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