Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe Kelly Bonbright’s journey from Dominican to Hollywood.
In June the 2005 graduate, who earned her BFA in Graphic Art and Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design along with a BA in Communications in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, walked the red carpet at the world premiere of Disney • Pixar’s Incredibles 2. Kelly has worked at Pixar Animation Studios for 14 years, the last three as Script Supervisor for Incredibles 2, which shattered box office expectations at $183.2M – the largest opening weekend in animated film history.
With her strong training at Dominican in studio and digital art, Kelly began an internship with Pixar in Consumer Products in 2004. She assisted in the production of toys, books, and video games, just as production on The Incredibles was wrapping up.
“My desk was within earshot of The Incredibles production pod. I would admire and observe director Brad Bird and his crew in action,” Kelly recalls. “The pod operated like a close-knit family, with a lively and efficient workflow. Brad was laser-focused on film goals and his attentive crew would execute with humor and ease. Little did I know my career would come full circle, landing a job as Brad Bird’s Script Supervisor on Incredibles 2.”
Prior to becoming Script Supervisor, Kelly spent 10 years in Publishing at Pixar managing art and editorial content for children’s books, magazines, and digital apps, starting with the 2006 film Cars and finishing with 2015’s The Good Dinosaur.
After a well-rounded experience in Publishing, Kelly was eager to join film production.
“Managing and editing publishing titles, ensuring their film accuracy, and collaborating with filmmakers in creative reviews set me up for success in the Script Supe role,” she says.
According to Kelly, being a Script Supervisor is notoriously one of the most difficult jobs at Pixar.
“It requires constant attention to detail, to the most important document to the film. There is little to no room for error,” she says. “Each day you’re in charge of archiving changes made to the script, communicating those changes to lead filmmakers, and tracking and prioritizing dialogue lines for voice recording.”
Kelly managed over 200 voice recording sessions (for both temporary “scratch” and production dialogue) for Incredibles 2, traveling to Los Angeles and New York City. She worked closely with actors, such as Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel L. Jackson.
“Craig, Holly, and Sam were a gas to work with. We laughed a lot,” Kelly says. “What’s funny about voice acting is that it’s really hard. Actors come into the recording studio completely cold, having never read a line in the script. They are expected to emote purely by standing in front of a mic. Watching Brad Bird direct voice talent is like watching live theatre. He’s super interactive with actors in order to guide them through a dramatic or action-heavy scene.”
This summer, Kelly is taking a three-month sabbatical from Pixar. She is heading to NYC to pursue an Illustration/Design Intensive program at Parsons School of Design to reinvigorate her passion and skills for visual arts.
That passion for the arts brought Kelly to Dominican in fall of 2001 as a transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College by way of Sonoma Valley High School.
“I was initially interested in only attending art school, but that quickly changed once I realized most art schools were specialized, with limited academics and campus life. Dominican had it all: breathtaking landscape, small class size, liberal arts curriculum, nurturing art department, student government — even a prom,” Kelly says. “I was super active on campus, joining ASDU as programming director planning the Boat Dance and Penguin Ball. I was also senior class representative assisting with graduation and presenting the class shield.”
Kelly never imagined being super active at Dominican would one day lead to a career complete with superheroes. It practically took a superhuman effort to complete Incredibles 2, as the crew had only three years to produce the film.
“The leadership wasn’t afraid to push the envelope when necessary and do things unconventionally for the betterment of the film. We had to work fast and sometimes messy, without suffering quality,” Kelly says. “I learned quickly how to appreciate efficiency and embrace imperfections during a creative process.”
In other words, she was incredible, too.