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4 things about Hothouse animator Kiarra Albina

This post is part of a series of interviews with this year’s Hothouse participants. Created in 2003, Hothouse is a 12-week paid apprenticeship program for emerging filmmakers that takes place in the NFB’s Montreal Animation Studio. This spring, the 6 participants were given 3 months to produce a short animation film, but with a twist: all films had to be in stereoscopic-3D.

I tried meeting up with Kiarra Albina during her last week at the NFB but we never quite found the time to sit down and do her “4 things about me” interview. I sent Kiarra the questions by email and this is what she sent back, mentioning in passing she was currently enjoying some quiet time in the country with her parents, post-Hothouse. “They have super limited internet,” she said. It sounded like a good thing.

1) One thing about myself: “Under extreme stress, I fall into uncontrollable giggle fits and I air drum and talk to myself way more than usual. Otherwise, I came to film accidentally, originally making animation as an extension of my art practice. I’ve made a lot of stream of consciousness animation, drawing under the camera, flipbooks… all made without storyboards, much planning, or any kind of restraints or conscious decisions about camera moves. lighting or other aspects of filmmaking. I make drawings, booklets of drawings, installation, painting and music and animation. I have never really thought of myself as a filmmaker. I’m just always making things.”

2) One thing about my film: “Originally, I wanted to make a gentle folk art portrait of the long-distance relationship between myself and my Baba (“Grandmother” in Ukrainian), and about connecting with our histories by performing traditional skills such as making pierogies. Throughout the process, the main character became more and more frustrated with the pierogi making, as I became overwhelmed with the insane amount of work it was to learn how to make a film, to learn computer programs and learn to work in 3D. Her struggle was with the traditional, while mine was with the contemporary. We were both working out of love and we both had a lot of help when we needed it. Also, I’m really good at making real pierogies now.”

3) One thing about working with the NFB: “Hothouse was the most challenging and most fun time of my life. I’m always working on things, but usually I am doing it alone, with few people to consult with. This experience was especially challenging and fascinating because of the collaborative aspect of filmmaking. When you’re working with producers, an editor, a sound designer, a foley artist, computer wizards, and 3D filmmakers, you realize there are an infinite number of possibilities and everyone has their own ideas. It’s so strange to have a team of people so interested in what you’re doing. You don’t get that when you’re making work alone in your house or studio and putting it in a gallery. Even the most critical and interesting people you know aren’t going to spend that much time talking about your work with you. There are some really amazing people at NFB, too. The first thing I noticed was the number of Converse sneakers I saw in the hallways. There’s a nice childlike feeling around there, like everyone continued to be themselves and accidentally turned into adults without noticing.”

4) One thing I’d like to share with other emerging filmmakers: “My advice to emerging filmmakers and animators is this: Work with people who inspire you and make you laugh, and you’ll be sucessful. If you are finding it hard to meet other filmmakers or places to learn new things, use resources like the Indie Media Arts Alliance to find artist-run centres in your city. If there isn’t a centre where you live, start one yourself and build a radical community of artists to exchange skills with and transform your town into a super creative paradise! Then, apply for Hothouse!”

Find Kiarra online: magic for yr true love, vimeo.

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