Pixar Digs Up Old-School Editing Supplies to Save Ken Loach's Final Film

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The wizards behind Disney's "Monsters University" heeded the director's call for "numbering tape" -- a tool of the trade used by predigital movie editors.

The stark, social examinations of Ken Loach and Pixar's cartoon blockbusters don't have much in common, but it's clear the filmmaker has fans within Disney's animation partner. A cry for postproduction supplies needed to finish Jimmy's Hall, his next and potentially final film, was answered by editors at Pixar, who jumped at the chance to assist the famed director.

PHOTOS: From 'Toy Story' to 'Brave': Your Essential Guide to Pixar's Movies

On Oct. 24, Loach released an appeal through ScreenDaily in hopes of scrounging up materials that would allow him to finish Jimmy's Hall the old-fashioned way. The director of Riff-Raff, Cathy Come Home, and the 2006 Cannes Palme d'Or winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley, is one of the few filmmakers still cutting his films. Not editing, cutting — on a Steenbeck flatbed, with roles of stock and magnetic sound tape.

"We're making a start and putting the scenes together, but we're finding that one or two of the support services are fading and one of those is in supplies of numbering tape," he says of the process. "We're scratching around to find if some numbering tape still exists so we can identify the sound and picture so the film remains in sync."

Steve Bloom, editor of Pixar's Oscar-nominated shorts Boundin' and La Luna, as well as a second film editor on 2013's Monsters University, heard Loach's call. Bloom rounded up 19 rolls of numbering tape, stock that allows a flatbed editor to sync sound and picture, and shipped it off to Loach's production company, Sixteen Films.

"We were delighted to know that Pixar is still in love with the same technology as us. We hope to get to meet them along the way. We've had a tinful of tape from a few other friends as well and we're very grateful," Loach told ScreenDaily after receiving the shipment, a gift that also included a signed drawing of Monsters University stars Mike and Sully sifting through film stock.

STORY: Ken Loach's Turin Fest Snub Inspires New Documentary

Pessimistic on the future of his analog methods, Loach predicts his turbulent endeavor could also be his last narrative film. Set in 1932, Jimmy's Hall follows Irish communist leader James Gralton, who returns from New York City to his home country to reopen a dance hall he built a decade prior. The film is a Sixteen Films, Element Pictures, Why Not Productions and Wild Bunch production made with support of the BFI, Film4, Bord Scannan na hEireann/Irish Film Board.

With a second donation from editor Mary Finlay (DCI Banks, The No. 1 Ladies' Detectives Agency), Loach's producer Rebecca O'Brien confirms that his search for stock is complete.

Twitter: @misterpatches