Tag Archives: Animation

Short Film Fan’s NFB Pick From This Year’s TIFF

This year’s TIFF is just around the corner and a while back, Short Film Fan listed 29 Canadian short films that will be screened at this year’s festival. For fans of the NFB, three of their animated shorts are also in the mix.  This week, the good folks at the NFB provided SFF a chance to screen these shorts before the festival kicks off on September 7th. The following are the films’ teasers and synopses:

Charles, by Dominic Etienne Simard (2017)

Charles knows he’s not like other kids. Every day at school, he’s reminded that his life isn’t like that of his classmates. Every day at home, he sees that he doesn’t receive the same care as other children in his neighbourhood. To dodge the unfairness and taunts, Charles imagines a peaceful haven peopled by good-hearted little frogs.

 

The Tesla World Light, by Matthew Rankin (2017)

New York, 1905. Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla makes one last appeal to J.P. Morgan, his onetime benefactor.  The Telsa World Light is a tragic fantasy about the father of alternating current, inspired by real events such as the inventor’s run of bad luck as a businessman and his affection for a pet bird, which he loves “like a man loves a woman.” Tesla’s words to the banker form the backdrop of this moving film about the man who blended science and art in his attempts to create the utopia of unlimited energy for all.

 

Threads, by Torill Kove (2017)

In her latest animated short, Academy Award®-winning director Torill Kove explores the beauty and complexity of parental love, the bonds that we form over time, and the ways in which they stretch and shape us.

 

Short Film Fan Pick: The Tesla World Light. This was a fascinating documentary-style short about one of the world’s pioneers of electrical engineering. The story itself is enough to encourage others to want to learn more about Tesla’s career struggles and successes. The film was extremely fast-paced and contained a delightful, eye-catching and impressive mix of animation, photography and live action. Those who have seen Rankin’s previous animated short, Mynarski Death Plummet, will see many similarities in styles and pace between the two films. Without a doubt, The Tesla World Light will prove to be a hit with history buffs and lovers of avant-garde cinema alike.

For more on TIFF, go to http://www.tiff.net/ and to learn more about the NFB, click on https://www.nfb.ca/

Enjoy the shorts and TIFF! If you get a chance to see one or all of these NFB shorts, please leave a comment below. Tell us which one was your favourite and why.

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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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National Film Board Short Docs, Animated Shorts Nominated For Canadian Screen Awards

Two short documentary films and two animated shorts from the National Film Board are among a total of 17 Canadian Screen Awards nominations it has received from the Academy of Canadian Television & Cinema.

Seth’s Dominion‘ by Luc Chamberland and ‘Jutra‘ by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre were nominated as Best Short Documentary Film, while ‘Me and My Moulton‘ by Torill Kove and ‘Soif‘ by Michèle Cournoyer were nominated as Best Animated Short.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television annually presents the Canadian Screen Awards in celebration of Canadian film, television, and digital talent both on-screen and behind the scenes. This year’s awards ceremony will take place in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre on February 24 and 25 during Canadian Screen Week. A 2-hour live broadcast of the awards gala will take place on CBC-TV on March 1st at 8 p.m.

Congratulations goes to the film makers and the NFB. Best of luck to everyone!

Logo courtesy of NFB
Logo courtesy of NFB

Before You Plan Your Next Dance Party, Consult ‘The Chaperone’ (2013)

I attended the TIFF Canadian Shorts & Global Audience Film Awards at the Gimli Film Festival recently. The audience was treated to a variety of new Canadian shorts, including comedies and drama. At the end of the screenings, the audience had the chance to pick the winner of a $1,000 prize. The winning film was ‘The Chaperone’, directed and written by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone of Thoroughbread Pictures.

‘The Chaperone’ is based on a true story of events that took place at a teen dance party in 1970s Montreal. At one point during the evening, a biker gang suddenly crashes the party. It’s up to Ralph Whims, the chaperone, and Stefan Czernatowicz, the DJ, to remove the uninvited guests. View the trailer courtesy of Thoroughbread Pictures and Vimeo:

A serious situation at the time, the story was presented in top humor. I was laughing throughout most of the film. I loved the dialogue and the use of the funky 1970s guitar licks. I was especially floored at the different types of animation that was used. To me, it was very, very creative and it definitely deserved to win the $1,000 prize that day.

‘The Chaperone’ had its world premiere at the 2013 TIFF and was chosen by TIFF as “Canada’s Top Ten” shorts produced in 2013. The film is also available in 3D. Check out the website for more information on past screenings http://www.thoroughbread.ca/

 

 

 

Survival of the Prairie Fittest – NFB film ‘Wild Life’ (2011)

This animated NFB short by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis is a story about a young Englishman, known as a remittance man, who journeys to Alberta in 1909 in an attempt at a new life there as a rancher.  The young man proudly writes home to his family about his ‘good fortune’. We see him having fun playing sports and admiring the nature that surrounds him. Later, his letters reflect a more somber tone as the struggles of living on the Canadian Prairie begin to make an impact on him.

I enjoyed the humour in the beginning and the seriousness at the end.  The ‘interviews’ with the different people who knew the young man (I immediately recognized Luba Goy’s voice as the old lady) were funny, too.  Their personal opinions of this young man gave the audience a better understanding of what he was really like. His exaggerated letters to his parents brought a smile to my face, as he clearly stretched the truth regarding the situations in which he found himself (such as his pride in having secured a herd of cattle, when there really is only a colony of ants running around on the ground).

This film reminded me of the saying, “the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side”.  How many people have often moved from one city or province or country to another, only to find that the new location didn’t really live up to expectations?  The film also speaks to one’s ability or inability to survive in new and unforgiving situations. The animation by Tilby and Forbis was refreshing, and the characters’ voices were well-chosen.  Check out  http://www.tilbyforbis.com/ for more information about their work.

As an added bonus, have a look at this ‘making of’ video of Wild Life: