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Secrets to Your Success: Katherine Sarafian

Filmmaker and producer of “Brave” Katherine Sarafian says the best piece of advice she ever got was from Pixar founder Steve Jobs. “He said, ‘You never regret the things you do, only the things you don’t do,'” explains Katherine, “and that was pretty important for me, even in the very beginning of ‘Brave,’ when I wasn’t sure whether to take the job.” Katherine took the job, and it turns out that was pretty great advice. “Brave” recently won a Golden Globe and is nominated for an Oscar.

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Katherine, the middle child in her family, says she was always an artistic and creative child, begging for attention. She went to UCLA and struggled to decide on a career. Seeking advice, a career counselor suggested pursuing film, and in 1994 Katherine began working at Pixar on “Toy Story” as a production scheduling coordinator. She has since worked on some of Pixar’s biggest hits, including “A Bug’s Life” and “The Incredibles.”

In 2006, Katherine started working on “Brave.” She says the movie is based on one of the director’s spirited relationship with her daughter, inspiring “Brave’s” Merida and Elinor’s relationship.

“Merida is someone who is not ashamed of being a girl. She’s not a tomboy. She’s happy to wear a dress. You know, she likes being a girl. She just wants to rule the kingdom on her own terms and in her own way,” explains Katherine.

Katherine says the film’s setting, Scotland, is an additional character in “Brave.” The team took two research trips to Scotland and unglamorously traipsed through the highlands with sketchbooks, pastels, pens, and cameras. “That’s really how it begins,” Katherine says, “because no amount of technology is going to make a bad story into a good one.”

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This past year, “Brave” opened to positive reviews and a successful weekend at the box office. Katherine says it’s an honor that the film is now nominated for an Academy Award. “Everybody’s a winner who gets nominated,” she says.

“Success to me is about relating to others in such a way that you can really see who they are, allow themselves to be who they are, and be really true to yourself at the same time,” explains Katherine. “To have those kinds of relationships in a professional environment is what got us through ‘Brave.'”

Katherine says she loves movies, because they expose us to new places and new people. “For me to be part of that,” she says, “that’s my attempt at making a mark on the world.”

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