Monthly Archives: July 2016

NFB Hothouse Challenges Animators With 3 Month Apprenticeship

Are you a new and upcoming filmmaker who is passionate about animation? Are you up to the challenge of making an animated short that is only one minute long? If so, then the National Film Board’s Hothouse program is for you. In its eleventh year, Hothouse is an intense 3-month paid apprenticeship program aimed at giving a select group of new and talented filmmakers the opportunity to work with and be mentored by a variety of NFB filmmaking experts. At the end of the program, each participant will emerge skilled and experienced in animation filmmaking.NFB Hothouse 11 logo

Although the apprenticeship normally takes place at the NFB Animation Studio in Montreal, this year’s six apprentices worked out of his or her local NFB studio. The theme for this year’s films was ‘Found Sound 2.0’ whereby the films were created based on unusual or unique sound clips. The filmmaker had the choice to use pre-selected clips found online by the NFB Hothouse team or an audio clip of the intern’s choosing.

This year’s participants were Rhayne Vermette from Winnipeg, Curtis Horsburgh from Victoria, Catherine Dubeau and Pascaline Lefebvre from Montreal, Lorna Kirk from Halifax, and Duncan Major from St. John’s. Their Hothouse films can be found on the NFB’s website at https://www.nfb.ca/playlist/hothouse/

Besides accessing them online, these shorts are making their rounds at festivals, including this weekend’s Gimli Film Festival. For some of his thoughts about NFB Hothouse, Short Film Fan reached Jon Montes, producer at the North West Studio in Winnipeg:

 

Short Film Fan: What is the main purpose or goal of the NFB’s Hothouse?

Jon MontesHothouse was started about eleven years ago at the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal as a way of giving emerging animators an opportunity to work in a professional production cycle, but with a compressed timeline and a pretty invigorating group dynamic. It’s an intense production environment. At the end of three months, you come out with a polished 1 minute animation where, instead of doing it all yourself, you’ve had a chance to work with an experienced production team, sound designers, editors, and of course lowly producers. But as Michael Fukushima, executive producer of the Animation Studio in Montreal likes to say, the most important film you make in Hothouse is your next one. Opening up doors to professional animation production is really the key here.

SFF: How many Hothouse apprentices do you take in per year?

JM: Usually Hothouse is a group of six animators, though we have done some partnerships with other countries before where we also hosted animators from Brazil (Hothouse 4, 2007) and Mexico (Hothouse 10, 2014). In each of those editions, we had 8 animators. We get a strong number of applications each year from across the country. In this last edition, we received over one hundred submissions, which means that we could only accept less than 6% of those.

SFF: Why are these shorts only one minute long?

JM: One minute might not seem like a lot, but it’s an incredible amount of work. Hothouse takes animators from concept through development into production and post-production. Doing all that in just three months is a tall order – especially considering that animators are pushing out films frame by frame! That’s 1440 frames (60 secs x 24 frames per second) for those of you keeping track. But the more interesting reason to limit films to one minute is that is really forces animators to hone their skills as storytellers. One minute is actually a fairly large canvas in terms of what can be done, but it requires that animators focus on story, paring it down to its most interesting essence. Developing those skills are a huge part of the Hothouse, and we spend a lot of time discussing pushing participants to stretch their limits in terms of what’s possible on a narrative level.

SFF: Have any previous Hothouse films gone on to be made into longer shorts or feature animated films for the NFB?

JM: Every Hothouse film is a stand-alone piece, a self-contained nugget of animation storytelling, so we don’t try to expand them into longer pieces. Still, Hothouse is an amazing way for the NFB to discover animation talent across the country. Just to mention a few, Hothouse alumni include: Howie Shia, whose last film with the NFB, BAM, premiered at TIFF; Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé, who led the stop motion production for the feature film The Little Prince and are in production for their new animated short Bone Mother with the NFB; Malcolm Sutherland, who was part of the very first edition of Hothouse in 2004 and just served as the mentoring director for the last edition, and Patrick Doyon, who followed up his Hothouse film Square Roots, with the NFB-produced and Oscar-nominated Sunday/Dimanche. All to say, a huge number of Hothouse alumni (70 in total!) continue to direct and animate on a professional basis. It’s a beautiful way to come full circle.

 

Rhayne Vermette explains why she became a filmmaker and talked about her experiences as one of the NFB Hothouse apprentices. Her film, UFO, can be seen below:

 

Short Film Fan: Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Rhayne Vermette: I was studying architecture and my work was quite concerned with more psychological effects , so I started making short animations with paper models as a way to pursue my investigations more cinematically. Making film seemed to be more a natural method of working for me – rather than making building proposals, so I just stuck with it.

SFF: How did you hear about Hothouse and what made you apply?

RV: One of the local producers here in Winnipeg suggested I apply.

SFF: What was the experience like for you professionally?

RV: It was interesting. I already have a fairly secure practice and method of working so didn’t get much out of the NFB’s methods of group “workshopping” work.

SFF: What are your recommendations to anyone who is interested in participating at Hothouse?

RV: There is this bizarre group critique process surrounding the program, I think it can get pretty overwhelming and daunting. I would suggest to anyone that they have the courage to stick to their vision as see fit.

 

Short Film Fan Commentary: These short animation films were fun to watch. It is amazing to see and experience the kind of filmmaking creativity that is out there in Canada. No doubt, the task of producing a one minute short animated film from a sound clip can seem daunting for new filmmakers. But in the end, new animated short films are made for short film fans to enjoy and new Canadian filmmaking careers are born. Looking forward to seeing the talent that emerges from Hothouse 12 next year. Thanks, NFB!

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Celebrate Ten Years Of Canadian Shorts In The Sky With Air Canada enRoute Film Festival

The Air Canada enRoute Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and everyone’s invited to the party!

Air Canada enRoute Film Festival

The fun starts at 8:00 p.m. on July 20th at Robson Square in Vancouver, BC, where 20 short films produced by Canada’s up and coming filmmakers will be announced at a free public screening. After that, the festival will be making its way across Canada for further public screenings in Halifax on July 26th at 6:00 p.m. at the Halifax Central Library. Both events will be hosted by eTalk’s Liz Trinnear. Other free screenings will take place in Montreal on November 15th and Toronto on November 17th.

“We are really happy to be celebrating the festival’s 10th anniversary by taking it coast-to-coast,” said Éric Lauzon, Manager, Multimedia Entertainment at Air Canada. “As the only in-flight film festival in the country it was important for us to hold events in cities across the country from Vancouver to Halifax to further raise awareness of the festival among emerging Canadian filmmakers. We are also very proud of the festival’s role in helping to boost the careers of young content creators.”

The celebration doesn’t stop there. Passengers on Air Canada flights around the world will get a chance to view these shorts between August 1st and December 31st, 2016, by using Air Canada’s enRoute entertainment system. The films will also found online at enRoutefilm.com. Fans can vote for their favourite short until October 31st 2016, and the winning film will pick up the People’s Choice Award.

The shorts will also be competing for awards in Best Short Film, Achievement in Direction, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Animation, and Achievement in Documentary awards. The winners will be picked by a star-studded jury, led by director Patrick Rozema and including actor & director Jason Priestley and actress Karine Vanasse. The winning filmmaker will be awarded an all-inclusive trip for two to the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, courtesy of Air Canada. The Best Short Film winner will also receive $5,000 from the presenting sponsor, Cineplex.

Happy 10th anniversary to Air Canada’s enRoute Film Festival! Thank you for making Canadian short films available for viewing on your flights for all these years. This kind of exposure certainly helps in raising the profile of various Canadian filmmakers. It is also an excellent way to entertain current fans of short films and to attract new fans to the genre. All the best to everyone involved in the festival for a successful kick-off party in Vancouver. Looking forward to watching more Canadian short films on Air Canada flights in the years to come!

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Mike Fardy Wins $45,000 Prize With ‘Moving On’ On ‘Short Film Face Off’

It has been a hot summer so far in Canada, and this season’s Short Film Face Off on CBC definitely played a part in the rising heat levels. For the past three weeks, fans of Canadian short films tuned in to the program and witnessed nine sizzling filmmakers burn their way up the points scale for a chance to win a $45,000 film production prize generously sponsored by Telefilm Canada and William F. White International.

This season’s fourth and final episode of Short Film Face Off began with the re-introduction of the three finalists: Mark Slutsky (Never Happened), Mike Fardy (Moving On) and Hector Herrera (The Ballad of Immortal Joe). All three films were re-screened for the viewers and studio audience, the directors spoke briefly about the production of their films, and panelists Mohit Rajhans, Nadia LitzTwiiter_Posters_Finals and Eli Glasner shared their parting comments to Mark, Mike and Hector.

Three alumni of Short Film Face Off were also featured in small interview clips throughout the show. James Stewart, Stephen Dunn and Ashley McKenzie let the audience know about what new projects they were working on and how appearing on Short Film Face Off was a boon to their filmmaking careers. Last year’s Short Film Face Off winners BJ Verot and Brad Crawford were also interviewed and shared the exciting news that one of their recent film projects had made it all the way to Cannes.

Viewers from coast to coast had the opportunity last weekend to vote for their favourite film and the ultimate winner of the $45,000 prize. To present the award to the winner, Francesca Accinelli, Telefilm Canada’s Director of National Promotion & Communications, joined host Steve Patterson to make the exciting announcement. In the end, this season’s winner was Mike Fardy! Congratulations, Mike!

Kudos also goes out to Mark and Hector for making it to the final round. You can catch tonight’s season finale, the three previous episodes and all nine shorts at CBC Player.

Short Film Face Off logo w-wordsThis season’s Short Film Face Off had an excellent variety of professionally-crafted shorts produced by filmmakers from across the country. It is good to have a program like Short Film Face Off available to Canadian audiences. Not only is it an unique platform Canadian filmmakers to be seen and to get a boost in their careers, it also gives fans and admirers of the genre access to a vast array of shorts that they may not otherwise get a chance to see. The show’s intimate format brings the audience and producer closer together and having the films accessible on the website makes it easier for fans to find them and to watch them again and again.

Next year is Short Film Face Off’s 10th anniversary. It will be interesting to see which films will be featured and if any special events will take place around its milestone year. Maybe some special award will be handed out on the show, such as a People’s Choice Award or a 10th Anniversary Award for an alumnus of the program. Looking forward to Season Ten!

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High-Scoring ‘The Ballad of Immortal Joe’ Spins Its Tale, Advances To ‘Short Film Face Off’ Finals

The last trio of Canadian filmmakers appeared on the third episode of CBC’s Short Film Face Off on July 2nd.  They all had their spotlights beaming on the $45,000 film production prize to be won on next week’s finals courtesy of Telefilm Canada and William F. White.

IMG - SFFO 16 - Ep3This time, it was Hector Herrera (The Ballad of Immortal Joe), Daniel Boos (Bound) and Rachelle Casseus (The Buckley Brothers) who were featured on the program and made their pitches to the panel. These three short films were brimming with romance, drama and comedy.  In the animated The Battle of Immortal Joe, a cowboy monster recounts his tale of love and sadness; a shopkeeper in Bound is torn when he discovers his brother employs foreign workers; two brothers born of different fathers are convinced they are identical twins in The Buckley Brothers.

In the end, The Buckley Brothers finished in third place with 12.0 points, with Bound coming in second place with 13.5 points. The Ballad of Immortal Joe clinched first place with 14.0 points and was the highest-scoring film on the program this season.

Tonight’s shorts had certain characteristics to them that should make them audience favorites at future film festivals.  The Ballad of Immortal Joe was an entertaining and unique tribute to the old cowboy stories of The Old West. We also learn the lesson that despite our sorrows, there are others who are worse-off in life. The shopkeeper faced a difficult situation in Bound – how to deal with the fact that his generous brother is also using foreign (read: illegal) workers at his sawmill. The appearance of the small paper note signified the seriousness of the plight of these workers, while the mystery of the unknown message written in the note has the ability to raise curiosity levels in any viewer. The two brothers in The Buckley Brothers symbolized that one can be happy and accept others despite overt differences. The two young girls’ memories of their dates with the brothers were funny and the children who played the brothers as young kids bore an almost uncanny resemblance to the grown actors.

Hats off to Hector, Daniel and Rachelle for competing on Short Film Face Off. All the best goes to Hector as he approaches possible immortality on next week’s season finale. Viewers have the chance to vote for their favourite film from the past three weeks at cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff or by phoning 1-877-876-3636 until Sunday night.

You can watch tonight’s episode and each of these three films again online at CBC Player.

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