Last updated on March 8, 2010
March 2, 2010
Chapter one in an ongoing series.
I was speaking with a distributor this week. They’ve been approached by an American client who is looking to do a feature film. It’s got a low budget (but still in the tens of millions) and they’re looking to produce it in Canada. Great right? You’d think. However, despite our international reputation as an animation powerhouse, this distributor still has to sell us to the client. They’d like to do it in Canada, bump up their budget with Canadian tax credits, and generally get a little more bang for their buck. But the problem is, they’re just not convinced we have the skilled crew to do the job. And frankly, I don’t blame them.
As usual, before I go any further, I’m going to have to clarify myself. I don’t blame THEM for their line of thinking. Personally, I could crew a feature in about a month. I know who I’d get to manage the production, I know who I’d get to direct, who I’d get to supervise animation, and the rest I could fill in pretty quickly from there. I know we can do it, without a moment’s hesitation. But that being said, I can totally understand why they’d have doubts.
Starz did “9” last year. I understand that March has plans for a Dex Hamilton feature. We had crews in Toronto and Vancouver doing straight to DVD Disney sequels in the 90’s. There were films like the Nutcracker and the Raggedy Anne picture here in Ottawa in the eighties. Rainmaker/Mainframe has done a bunch of DVD features. Bardel serviced some Dreamworks stuff about ten years back. And if you go back far enough, there’s always Heavy Metal. So yeah, we’ve made features. Not a lot that I’d call hits, but the crews are out there. Try showing that to a client with millions of dollars on the line, though. There’s no one studio to go to. Those crews are long scattered, and some of the very best animators our country has produced haven’t made the jump to digital and are now semi-retired, teaching, or working in other industries. Many are too scarred from being burned by studios to want to work on something like this again.
So, we’ve got our baggage. But that doesn’t solve the problem.
This distributor contacted me looking for a list of feature quality directors they could show to their client. I directed them to the Animation Directory that I link to, the one that the Ottawa International Animation Festival hosts. You know it, the one I encouraged everyone to register for. The very directory most of you didn’t register for, for whatever reason. I’ll mention here that the most popular one was that you didn’t want to get on a mailing list from the festival. Well, that’s just super. The distributor went looking, for what it’s worth. Not much a showing.
Now what do we do? Well, for starters, I’m going to put in hours of time trying to find the talent to sell this client. I’m not going to to get paid for it. And one or two of you may get a great job out of it. If it goes really well, I’ll get some work, maybe helping put this thing together. But someone else, in this case me, is going to be doing the legwork so YOU, the animation community can get a shot at a gig.
So help me out here. I’m looking for feature animators, bg painters, directors, etc. Canadian citizens either here or abroad with feature experience. I’m asking you to do your part. Help me help out the community. If you know someone who fits the bill, get them to contact me. I want a list, I want a crew. 2d-3d hybrid, traditional character animation with 3d backgrounds. Story artists, I need you too. Send me your resume, your link, all the good stuff.
Prove me right.