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First impressions of the NFB from a Hothouse emerging filmmaker

The following is a guest post by Kiarra Albina.

Street Musique, Ryan Larkin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

4 weeks have passed since Hothouse began, and I am finally blogging.

Yesterday, our mentor, Anne Marie, presented the “Panic/ Don’t Panic wall”, a carefully penciled grid complete with a collection of Stickgirl notes illustrating the various stages of the animating process.

As the picture lock deadline draws near, Stickgirl meditates, she revisits Munch’s The Scream, she calls her mother for support. All of the filmmakers have been asked to work backward from our Picture Lock deadline in 16 days, and make goals for ourselves.

By May 20, all of the movement and timing must be worked out, however crudely, so that our sound designer, Luigi Allemano can record the soundtrack, and the foley artist can record the sound. Rather than panic, it seems this is the perfect opportunity to begin writing, and to peacefully reminisce about my time here at the Film Board. I’ll get back to counting down minutes and scheduling narrow gaps for sleep after I’ve finished my coffee.

I have dreamed about being in this building for years, and in a slightly panicked state this week, I began to forget about how special this opportunity is. Last night, I used the “Stickgirl phones a friend” card and I talked to my mother, who reminded me of being a little girl and watching John Weldon’s Log Driver’s Waltz play between blocks of cartoons, each time cut short by scheduled programming. Would the colourful woodsman morph back into a grey real-life man at the end? Mysteries.

The hallways here are alive with the drawings and cut-outs of animators who have passed through here. My favourites are the carefully plotted leg motions made by Ryan Larkin for his film, Walking, and scenes from Ishu Patel’s Afterlife.

The building is rich with magic and inspiration, and all of the staff and filmmakers and fellow Hothouse directors are kind and intelligent and warm and we all eat together at a large table in the afternoon.

I am so happy to be here, and I am learning so many things so quickly.

The film I am making is called Perogy Pinch. I am using hand painted collage and hand drawn animation to compose the 2D backgrounds. These frames are imported into SANDDE, where I use a wand to draw over them in space. The program is super challenging to draw with, but it is exciting to be using a new tool and to use my body to draw in a new way.

As I draw the wand nearer to my body and away from the receiver, the line moves closer in space to the viewer’s body. Likewise, when I adjust the grid and draw further from my body, I can create landscapes and objects that seem to be many metres behind the screen. There is much to be done, and I look forward to the long days ahead. At the moment, my mind lives someplace between my childhood and the forest where I will spend my summer, but I will try to focus and be conscious of everything around me so that it won’t be forgotten.

I will update again soon, but in the meantime, check out Barry Doupé’s At the Heart of the Sparrow, and this exercise in early line animation by Bruce Bickford:

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  1. Wow! Stop and look around you! It really is amazing isn’t it!! I am so proud!

    — Raelene,
  2. Keep going Kiarra, there is light at the end of the tunnel and while reading your blog I see that you are aware of it. Michael’s comment says it all. Nice to have you with us.

    — Gisele,
  3. If buildings could blush, it would be beet red now.

    — Michael Fukushima,

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