With so many recent passings of celebrated figures, it’s easy for nonhousehold names to get lost
in the shuffle. Perhaps that’s one of the great misfortunes of life in general; only those who have had a great influence on pop culture get the “In Memoriam” tribute at awards shows that so many more deserve. While his name may not be recognizable to all, Daniel Gerson, who joins the unfortunate narrative of recent cancerrelated deaths, leaves just as notable an impact on the film industry as anyone who passed away this year. It is through his screen credits and contributions to the world of animation that his legacy will live on to those unfamiliar with his work.
Dan majored in English at Cornell University and would later receive an MFA from New York University’s graduate film school. He began his career as a staff writer on NBC’s Something So Right (1996-1998). Later, he’d join Disney/Pixar in 2001 and began cowriting the screenplay for Monsters, Inc. (2001) with Andrew Stanton. He’d go on to cowrite Monsters University (2013) as well as Big Hero 6 (2014), which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2015. He’s also been credited with assistance on Pixar’s Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015) as well as Disney’s Chicken Little (2005). Needless to say, the man was involved with some of the definitive animated movies of this century. His ideas allowed him to contribute to inventive stories that tap into the power of the imagination.
As he passed away at the young age of 49, it’s unfortunate to think about what other stories might have come from Dan had he beaten cancer. Audiences will have one last opportunity to be a part of Dan’s work when Cars 3 is released in 2017. Until then, we here at the Newport Beach Film Festival salute and remember your legacy, Mr. Gerson. We’ll revisit your films like Sulley visited Boo, in excitement, joy, and love.