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It’s Hothouse time again! NFB’s Hothouse 9 Call for Submissions!

Blog_HothouseHothouse 9: Call for Submissions

Deadline: Monday, July 8, 2013
Program Dates: September 9 – December 2, 2013

The National Film Board of Canada seeks submissions from emerging (young and not-so-young) Canadian filmmakers and artists intrigued by animation art, for the 9th edition of Hothouse, a 12-week paid apprenticeship in full-on, all-inclusive, real-world animation filmmaking.


Edition 9 parameter: abstract impressionism

This year, Hothouse expects you to dive into the realm of abstract animation with impressionistic storytelling. The best art – be it frenetic expressionism or historical novels – tell stories that can be limned by audiences through visceral emotional engagement or resonant characters, contexts, or pathos. This year, we want you to plumb your creative imagination in the former; to tap our inherent human need to hear stories, but to so with the tools of sound, shapes, and movement.

To help get you started on this adventure, we’re providing ten one-minute music pieces crafted by five talented Montreal composers and musicians. Choose one of the music pieces and build your concept around that starting point. We’ll reveal the composers at the end of the selection process.

Click here for the 10 tracks.

Hothouse continues to be about re-imagining ways of making animation, ways that are faster, more flexible, and which embrace the many possibilities in the animation process while maintaining creative and technical excellence. We’re looking for six new talents who are willing and able to jump head-first into this intensive experience.


Submissions must be received by 5pm (Montreal time) on Monday, July 8, 2013 and must be sent via email (no snail mail submissions will be accepted). The six successful candidates will be notified by Friday July 19, 2013.


It’s essential to note that this edition’s focus is on abstract animation AND storytelling. Story can be told in many ways, and we’re interested in seeing how you tell a story outside conventional forms. The theme of Reveal Thyself should be your cue to explore ideas that are deep-seated, intimate, or highly personal. Ultimate goal: pushing the boundaries of storytelling and auteur animation filmmaking.


You can propose any animation technique that is feasible within the Hothouse framework and with which you have ability. It’s important to reveal a thoughtful relationship between your concept and your chosen technique (whether hand-drawn, stop motion, 3D printing, Kinect, collage, 3D CGI, stereoscopic 3D, mixed media, machinima, fractal animation, Processing, etc). Your proposal must demonstrate that you have the necessary production tools and know-how to execute the project as proposed, including working in collaboration with the Hothouse 9 team in Montreal. The film must be done in the 12-week allocated timeframe – it is imperative to choose variables realistically to match reach and viability. Project viability is a key deciding factor in the mentoring team’s selection process.

This edition’s Mentoring Director will be Munro Ferguson.


The sound effects and ambiances will be designed, recorded and edited in postproduction (after the animation is finished) at the NFB in Montreal, in collaboration with the Hothouse 9 Sound Designer. The pre-composed music you select from the list of ten will be used “as is”, unless the Sound Designer and Composer mutually agree on slight modifications.


SUBMISSIONS MUST INCLUDE:  (writing and images must be in PDF format)

1. A one-page statement outlining your idea and intent, artistic approach, and motivation for participating in Hothouse. Explain the relationship between this year’s theme and your concept. Include one paragraph outlining any specialized equipment needs – what you have and what you’ll need from us (hardware, software, props).

2. Two or three design samples (to demonstrate the look and feel)

3. One-page résumé

4. One example of a previous film (animation or otherwise) no more than 5 minutes, or an excerpt from a previous film, no more than 5 minutes. Please send only 1 film/excerpt. Media must be submitted as a URL. See instructions here. Do not send hard copies. If you don’t have a finished film don’t worry, but make sure you show off what you can do in your writing and design samples.


We look for: strength of idea; your ability with the chosen animation technique; your conviction of vision, creative maturity, originality; your willingness to embrace the Hothouse challenge.


Submissions are accepted from across Canada. You must:
• Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant (no exceptions)
• Have some experience in animation filmmaking or a related field (ie. fine arts, cinema, graphic design, photography, electronic arts, computational arts etc.)
• Have sufficient know-how and confidence in your chosen animation technique to begin working right away while remaining flexible and willing to adapt to the processes of creative and technological exchange within the team
• Be relatively new to auteur animation filmmaking
• Be prepared to commit full time for the entire twelve-week period


1. Propose the film you want to make, not the film you think the NFB might like. We don’t like that and will roll our eyes at you.

2. Pay attention to clarity of idea and intent in your proposal. If you’re unsure about something, admit it, and explain why and what you intend to do about it.

3. Reveal Thyself – don’t underestimate it! The theme is a test of your creativity, ingenuity and artistic maturity; don’t be afraid to play with it, subvert it, deconstruct it, both in content and in form. Remember, over a hundred people are thinking up ideas based on the exact same theme.

4. Ambiguity is not a virtue in a proposal. Cinema is a two-way conversation so someone other than yourself must be able to understand/feel/appreciate/be provoked by what you’re saying. Especially in the proposal.

5. Don’t use new tools just because they’re cool. We will reject any tech fetish proposal. There must be a very clear artistic rationale for ‘why’.

6. As you conceive your project, please remember that all tools, hacks and re-uses must fall within proper and legal uses. Otherwise, it may prevent us from showing your work.

7. Become familiar with Hothouse. Check out the films and behind-the-scenes videos from past Hothouse editions for a better idea about the projects and process. See Hothouse films here.

8. Be sure to read the Rules & Regulations for a better understanding of what we expect from you and what you can expect from us.


By email

For more information contact Associate Producer Jelena Popovic at or 514.496.5466


Hothouse participants will direct an animation short, maximum 1 minute in length, from creative inception all the way through final sound mix and video release in twelve intensive weeks. The NFB provides – within reasonable limits of budget and availability – the tools, resources, advice and support to master this challenge within the filmmaking community of the NFB.


By making a submission, participants agree to these expectations:

1. Each Hothouse participant receives a fixed artist’s fee of $6,500.

2. Ideas must be based on the proposed theme, Reveal Thyself.

3. Projects can use digital or analogue techniques and must be no more than 1 minute in length. They must respect the parameters of Hothouse including available resources and expertise in the Animation Studio.

4. Participants must be able and prepared to work full time beginning September 9 until December 2, 2013.

5. Travel arrangements for those living outside the Greater Montreal area will be made by the NFB in August. The NFB will pay for the single return trip to Montreal and back, at the best possible rate. A modest stipend will be offered to those from outside the Greater Montreal area to help defray actual costs of local accommodation for the twelve weeks. Participants are responsible for finding their own housing.

6. Participants must be prepared to work with the NFB creative team, which includes Mentoring Director, Producers, Digital Imaging Specialists, Composer, Sound Designer, Editor and the rest of the NFB Animation filmmaking community.

7. Participants must be prepared to engage fully, which includes mandatory work-in-progress reviews and workshops, discussions with producers and creative and technical crew and frequent contribution to the NFB Hothouse 9 blog.

8. Participation with and inclusion in any accompanying Hothouse documentation (ie. making-of) is granted by all Hothouse participants by virtue of accepting the Hothouse offer.

9. Adherence to five locked delivery dates: offer response, story sign-off, picture-edit lock, final mix, video online.

10. All projects belong to the NFB and will be released as is deemed suited to content and format.

Hothouse productions will be full NFB intellectual properties created under the direct supervision of an NFB producer and subject to NFB administration, distribution and creative controls and standards. Full copyright and exclusive distribution remain with the NFB.


About Hothouse

Hothouse is an apprenticeship program for emerging Canadian filmmakers. Located in Montreal, Quebec, it was created in 2003 by NFB Animation Studio producer Michael Fukushima and executive producer David Verrall. The aim is to make animation more quickly and more flexibly in celebration of the shortest of short forms while maintaining the hallmarks of NFB animation: creative and technical excellence.

This is not “quick and dirty” but rather “intense and amazing”. Think of horticultural hothouses where gardeners create optimal growing conditions to encourage the flowering of exotic orchids and other blooms in weeks rather than months.

This program is for Canadian emerging creators from across the country with the imagination, vision, experience and enthusiasm to relish the Hothouse challenge, to flourish in the Hothouse environment and to accomplish the making of a successful project within the program’s parameters.

Key aspects of Hothouse include the active participation of an experienced mentoring director, a team of NFB technical and post-production experts who support the filmmakers, and emphasis on the role of the producers as creative partners, all of which highlight the collaborative process of NFB filmmaking.
Hothouse takes place over 12 consecutive weeks in the NFB’s Montreal Animation Studio. Not merely funding nor school: Hothouse is instead a 3-month apprenticeship in real-world animation filmmaking.


The National Film Board of Canada
Created in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a public agency that produces and distributes films and other audiovisual works, which reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. Since its beginnings, the NFB has played a crucial role in Canadian and international filmmaking.


Animation at the NFB
Initiated by Norman McLaren 72 years ago, animation filmmaking at the NFB has been recognized ever since as a cornerstone of NFB activity, garnering many international awards for excellence and innovation. Today’s NFB continues the commitment to a diversity of eclectic and experimental exploration of animation as art. The panoply of artistic visions, driven by the passion and imagination of their creators, reflects novel styles, methods, subjects and cultures and is expressed across the country.

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