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more OIAF 2011, by Grant Moore

Grant Moore‘s been good enough to continue sharing his experience at the Ottawa Festival this year.  Here’s his take on Saturday’s events.

OIAF – Day #2

Home from my second day at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and I’m exhausted! So, I will do my best to give a recap of what I experienced throughout the day…

Surviving as a Short Filmmaker

Given that some of my personal goals and dreams are to produce my own entertainment & artistic media, it was safe to say that this panel discussion about what it’s like being a successful short filmmaker was definitely on my “must see” list for this years festival. The panel featured Andy London, Carolyn London, Biljana Labovic, and Nick Cross. They all had some pretty unique backgrounds, perspectives and thoughts on what it’s like to be an independent film-maker, but I’ll try to summarize a few of the key points that I remember (I should have taken notes… hindsight).

  • Creating short films is more a result of a desire, a need and passion to create for the sake of creating, rather than a commercial goal. They love what they do and much like traditional artists, must create in order to find purpose and happiness in life.
  • Nearly all independent animators have a “day job”. They all maintained that it is incredibly difficult to make your entire career on independent short films (citing only a few successful examples, such as Don Hertzfeldt). Generally speaking, they expressed the need to work in a commercial field in order to support yourself and your own films.
  • Commercial work may sound “soul crushing” to those who have a passion for creating their own works, but it can yield positive results. Learning new techniques, teaching yourself time management skills, practicing your craft, etc… try to look at it as a balance to your independent work, rather than a hindrance.
  • The biggest change in animated short filmmaking is both the proliferation of tools (computers, hardware, software, etc…) making animation production “easier” as well as the new potentials for online distribution and sharing. We are at a time where new media revenue streams are being discovered, so it’s an exciting time to be a filmmaker.

I’m sure I’m missing some of the other great points, but you must forgive me it’s 12:30am right now and I’m getting what I can remember out of my head before I go to sleep!

Feature – Taevalaul (Sky Song)

I don’t even really know what to say about this one. It was a beautifully created stop-motion animation with some of the strangest imagery imaginable. The first half of the film, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what was going on. I was struggling to find the “story” from what I was seeing – especially since I hadn’t read the description prior to watching the film – and was beginning to think it was a random collection of “weird” shots. Eventually, it was revealed that the character was simply in training for an important task…bringing a letter to the moon! I won’t reveal anything else, suffice to say I enjoyed this film a lot!

Short Competition 4
This collection of short films was a bit of a mix for me, I really enjoyed some while found others un-bearable. Perhaps it’s simply my personal taste that doesn’t enjoy the more “abstract” animations, but overall it was enjoyable. I’ll list off a few of my favourites:

Buddha Hand’s Up

This one was just a really cute animation about a boy monk day dreaming about being a rock star.


Absolutely mesmerizing. Generally speaking, I dislike “experimental” animations, but this one put me into a trance and I couldn’t wait to see what would come up next.


A sad story about the rape of a young girl and how it affected her life, beautifully creating animation and a powerful message.


I didn’t really get this one, but it was fun to watch!

The Goat and the Well
A funny little animation about a woman struggling to milk a goat.

10 Reasons to Love Animation
David Verrall created a personal selection of what he deemed to be some of the more influential animations he has seen throughout the years of attending various festivals. You can find the full list here. I really enjoyed this presentation as it really showed a great variety in styles, subject matter and animation mediums.

Late Night: Adult Animation
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know much going into this one other than it contained the word “adult” and thought, “well, that HAS to be entertaining!”. Turn out, it was a live podcast (I cannot remember who the hosts were unfortunately -editor’s note: the hosts were Joel Frenzer and Alan Foreman, hosts of the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum ) with guest Dino Stamatopoulos, a comedy writer with a pretty extensive past and more recently, creator of Adult Swim’s Moral Orel. It was a pretty entertaining talk about his experiences as a comedic writer and creator of stop motion TV series. He even gave us a sneak peak of one of the episodes for his upcoming season of Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole, where the main character decides to give himself a vagina!

Short Comp 5
By this time, I was getting quite tired, but had to continue watching animation! Such a tough life, eh? Having to get up, eat food, sit down, be entertained… all day long. Tough work, I must stay. This screening had both some of my favourite shorts thus far, as well as some of my least favourite. I won’t discuss the ones I personally disliked, however I’ll kindly ask anyone out there planning a dark / introspective / deep animation to try and stick closer to the “short” aspect of animated shorts… please? Long, drawn out shot sequences depicting the same emotion over and over is draining on the audience, especially if we don’t know what we’re supposed to be feeling for 5 minutes. Okay, mini-rant over, on to the ones I enjoyed most!

Lil’ Aliens
A cute clay-mation done to the audio of young children describing their “alien” home-planet.

Das Haus (The House)
Probably one of the most creative mixes of 2D and 3D animation techniques I’ve ever seen. I wish I could find the full film, but he’s only got a trailer available. Definitely one of my favourites of the festival so far!

The Deep

This great stop-motion animation uses a collection of tools to simulate and underwater world, again, one of my favourites of the festival so far!

Overall, I quite enjoyed my day. I have to say though, that this year’s selections are MUCH more depressing and emotional than previous years – unless previous years were abnormally saturated with comedic films? Either way, I hope tomorrow has a few more laughs as I was beginning to find myself in a foul mood after a while. However, if you stick to the ones I pointed out in this post, all should be well in the world! 🙂

Looking forward to wrapping up the festival tomorrow!!

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