Winston the dog in Feast from Walt Disney Animation Studios
Winston the dog in Feast from Walt Disney Animation Studios

Can a six-minute cartoon retain the emotional impact of the beats? Can a character learn the theme and go through the “Transformation Machine” in such a small amount of time? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes, as Walt Disney Animation Studios’ short film Feast, which is playing in theaters in front of Big Hero 6, brilliantly demonstrates.

Story by: Nicole Mitchell & Raymond S. Persi

Written by: Patrick Osborne

Directed by: Patrick Osborne

Genre: Buddy Love

Opening Image: The camera views the city street at a dog’s eye level.

Set-Up: A small and malnourished stray dog scavenges the ground for food, eating what he can find. A French fry is dropped, and he quickly snatches it. This is the dog’s thesis world, a life alone.

Theme Stated: While the theme is not overtly stated, by the end of the story it will be clear: the tiny gray dog will learn what it means to belong to and experience the love of a family.

Catalyst: A hand reaches down, offering the dog another fry. Beckoning him over, this is the first extension of love the dog experiences…

Debate: …but he is unsure whether or not to trust this strange creature. Tentatively, he takes a few steps forward toward the food and grabs the fry.

Break into Two: The scene flashes forward into the dog’s antithesis world, now at the home of the man who offered him the fry. This is where he will find a life of companionship and love.

B Story: The relationship of the dog, now named Winston, and his owner, will drive this story.

Fun and Games: A quick montage of scenes shows Winston eating food from his bowl over time. He used to be starving, but now he is eating so much that he is quickly growing and gaining weight. The variety in his food changes, too, going from dog food to table scraps to food he eats while sitting with his master at a restaurant.

Midpoint: Winston enjoys the feasts his master places before him as they share a table; truly, he is a happy dog. Of course, this state will not last.

Bad Guys Close In: Winston’s master meets a waitress at one of the restaurants they frequent. As the couple’s relationship develops, Winston’s position is relegated to eating normal dog food under the table. The woman also incorporates healthy eating, and instead of the delicious food he was used to, his bowl is now served with green vegetables. When the couple has a fight and the girl storms out, Winston is at first relieved…

All Is Lost: …until he notices that something is not quite right with his master. The formerly happy man refuses to do anything or to eat. The whiff of death is in the air as the master he once had no longer seems to exist.

Dark Night of the Soul: Sad to see his master in such a state, Winston realizes what he must do. He must make his master happy, even if it means things cannot be how they once were. Winston has experienced selfless love, and now he will return the favor.

Break into Three: Winston dashes outside with his master chasing behind him, entering his synthesis world where he will use what he learned about love and belonging to heal his master.

Finale: Dashing across the city, Winston heads to the familiar restaurant where the waitress works. Presenting her with a piece of vegetable, he seems to be inviting her back into their lives. His master arrives and the two reconcile, later getting married. One day, Winston finds food once again falling from the table, but this time it is not from his master but from a new member of his family: a baby.

Final Image: As the years flash forward, Winston runs through a busy household during a child’s birthday party. Cupcakes and treats rain through the air as he jumps happily with his new family, a far cry from the lone stray he once was.