Dale Hayward

Animator Dale Hayward talks about getting his foot in the door at the NFB

I love a good feel-good story. You know, the stories where passionate, hard-working people follow their hearts and good things happen and hope triumphs, for a change? This story is about Dale Hayward, a bright young mustachioed animator who first came to the Film Board as a participant in the Hothouse program. He now works on different projects at the NFB, where he shares an office with a guy named Fred, in the hallway not too far from the web team. I recently invited Dale to our office to tell me all about it. Here is some of what he had to say.

Carolyne Weldon: What is your first memory of the NFB?

Dale Hayward: Log Driver’s Waltz, on TV, between 2 programs. It would always get cut when the next program started, so we never saw the end. I remember seeing some of the classis shorts too, like The Big Snit. It was only in high school that I realized you could make money out of it, be an “animator.” I told myself: “Oh. That’s what I want to do.”

CW: What was your first involvement with the NFB? How did you end up here?

DH: It was for Hothouse 4, in 2007, I guess? I was in Toronto at the time. My girlfriend and I told each other we’d apply [on the Hothouse internship]. We were already directing animation in Toronto, working on stuff like MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch. So we worked on our applications, separately, over the Christmas break. You had to submit your idea for a short film: a paragraph and a couple images. As it turns out, I was the one who got chosen. My girlfriend Sylvie ended up making Hothouse 5, the following year. It didn’t matter. The fact one of us had been selected was still all the excuse we needed to pack up and move to Montreal.

CW: Tell me about the film you made for Hothouse that year.

DH:  The film I made is called Roy G Biv. The title is comes from the first letter of all the different colours: Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Ink [black] – Violet. The nicest thing about that film is that I could only have done it here, at the Film Board. The film is about the interpretation of splats, things you see in ink/paint splats. There is no way to pre-plan that. It was great to just shoot and see what happened. You never have that in animation. Everything is planned and preplanned 2-3 times. That alone is reason to have pride in the NFB.

CW: When you look at it now, what do you think?

DH: I think I would’ve liked to make it longer. Like 4 minutes or something. But seriously, I have so much footage of splats I could’ve made a 2-hour feature out of it.

CW: So after Hothouse, what happened?

DH: I started doing contract work, mainly on 3D projects. I worked on the map sequence in Facing Champlain. Then I went to Switzerland to work on Land of the Heads, where I stop-motion animated with one other animator. From contract to another, I guess.

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CW: What are you working on now?

DH: I’m working on Les Yeux Noirs, an animation film from French Program. It’s a kids’ film in stereoscopic 2D, or actually, in something we call “two and a half” D, because we’re animating 2D elements in a 3D environment. It’s about a blind boy, on his birthday, and how he sees the world. For example, he has little eyes on his fingers and nose. It’s all white lines on black.

My girlfriend and I also do a lot of freelancing on the side, through our studio, La Moustache. Right now we’re working like maniacs, but come February, it will be dead. It’s cyclical like that. Recently we animated 2 commercials for television. One for the Pop! Montreal music festival, the other for Gaz Metro.

CW: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with young animators?

DH: It’s very about being at the right place at the right time. You need to have the skills someone needs, right when they need them. Another thing is connections to people. Often a person needs an animator; they’ll hire someone the next day. There’s no Monster.ca in our field, no job boards.

That being said, I highly discourage being pushy or too insistent. Your reel is supposed to speak for you; let it speak for you. About the reel themselves, keep them under 2 minutes and go for variety. Better yet, have your reel be 1 minute long, packed with nothing but your best best stuff.

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Check out Dale’s La Moustache website.

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