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It's an undersea quest of epic proportions. The clownfish Marlin, timid, fearful and overprotective of his son Nemo, embarks on a dangerous odyssey from his home waters of the Great Barrier Reef out into the unknown and off to the distant shores of Sydney, Australia. There, the tropical fishnapped Nemo has been imprisoned — in the aquarium of a dentist's office facing Sydney Harbor. Accompanied by newfound friend Dory, a blue tang with an extremely short-term memory, Marlin (a.k.a. Father) must brave unfamiliar currents, killer jellyfish and starving sharks, all in hopes of Finding Nemo.

The movie is the brainchild of writer-director Andrew Stanton, who scripted or co-scripted all four of Pixar Animation Studios' previous CG-animated films (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc.). "The satisfaction of creating new characters that are hopefully liked by others is addictive," Stanton says. "You want to do it again."

And so he did. Inspired by a fascination with the sea, a dentist's aquarium in his childhood and his own mixed feelings of overprotectiveness toward his son, Stanton hatched the Nemo story idea. He pitched it in a long, exhaustive presentation to Pixar creative guru John Lasseter, who approved the project, famously commenting afterward, "You had me at 'fish.' " Pixar veteran Graham Walters signed on to make it his producing debut. Ralph Eggleston, an Oscar winner for directing Pixar's 2001 short "For the Birds," climbed aboard as production designer. (Stanton discussed Nemo in STARLOG #312, Walters and Eggleston provide their views in upcoming issues.) Stanton scripted with Bob Peterson and David Reynolds. After Monsters, Inc. wrapped, its co-director Lee Unkrich joined the Nemo crew in the same capacity.