May 07, 2021
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Front Page, Industry News

Canadian animator eschews big studio fare

TORONTO – Being up for big film prizes has taught Canadian animator Paul Dutton one thing: he’s a poor loser.

The Calgary-based filmmaker, who served as assistant director on the Oscar-nominated film “The Illusionist,” says that’s what he realized the moment the hand-drawn French movie lost the Golden Globe award to “Toy Story 3” earlier this year.

The two films gear up for another showdown at the Academy Awards on Feb. 27, alongside “How To Train Your Dragon.”

This time, Dutton says he’s looking forward to the awards bash with simple gratitude.

“You can’t hold your breath and expect it,” Dutton, 38, said of the film’s chances at the Oscars.

“If we were to receive it I’d be very, very happy.”

By all accounts, the race for best animated feature is shaping up to be a battle between studio giants and the little French film that could.

“Toy Story 3,” from Pixar, and “How To Train Your Dragon,” from Dreamworks, are 3D computer-generated extravaganzas. “The Illusionist” is a poetic throwback to classic animated storytelling, featuring delicate hand-drawn characters and a lyrical tale almost devoid of dialogue.

It was co-written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2003 film “The Triplets of Belleville,” and 1998’s animated short “La vieille dame et les pigeons.”

“The Illusionist” centres on an aging travelling magician who develops a friendship with a naive hotel chambermaid after they meet in a Scottish village.

The screenplay was adapted from a script by the late French comic legend Jacques Tati, with its gangly hero evoking the image of Tati himself in the magician’s hunched torso and lanky hands that hang from jacket sleeves that are just a smidgen too short.

Dutton was brought on board to assemble a team of some 100 animators and oversee their work, which largely took place in Edinburgh. He met Chomet when he was hired to draw for him on “The Triplets of Belleville,” which was mostly animated in Montreal and Toronto.

Dutton says the moment he joined “Triplets” marked a calculated decision to pursue a career in filmmaking that was independent, and a little unorthodox.

“I can remember I was working on a project called ‘Osmosis Jones’ which was a big feature film for Warner Brothers when I heard about the ‘Triplets of Belleville’ being produced,” says Dutton, who studied animation for two summer semesters at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

“I left the Warner Brothers picture to join ‘The Triplets of Belleville.’ It wasn’t as widely distributed but it was artistically more interesting.”

“It was a bit more quirky, a bit more independent. It was garage rock whereas ‘Osmosis Jones’ might be something produced in a large studio.”

Dutton, who was raised in Saskatchewan, says he’s always worked as a freelancer and never pursued a career in Hollywood, unlike some of his Sheridan peers. Famous graduates include Ottawa-born Dean DeBlois, who co-wrote and co-directed “How To Train Your Dragon.”

And while he’d consider trying CG work, Dutton says he prefers hand-drawn, 2D animation.

“I’m a bit of a throwback in that respect,” says Dutton, whose varied career includes 3D commercials and Xbox video games.

“‘Monsters Inc.’ is one of my favourites and ‘Up’ and ‘WALL-E’ are great films but my own career path, it just seems I’ve stuck with 2D and now it seems to me it’s a niche that I have that I quite enjoy inhabiting.”

Still, Dutton says doing things the old-fashioned way can mean painstaking work, noting that Chomet as a director “is very, very particular about what he wants and he’s extremely demanding.”

“When we were making the ‘Illusionist’ we were in production for three and a half years… and I saw every drawing as it was done. If we make a change to the animation it’s more difficult to make that change when you’re doing it by hand because it’s not simply moving the (computer) model around. … When you’re doing it in 2D there’s a certain intimacy with the characters (and) when it’s done well it certainly shows up on the screen.”

Deciding to work in this style also made it difficult to find the right talent for the job, he adds. Many animators they pursued were doing special effects or 3D work and did not want to return to hand-drawn animation, says Dutton. He embarked on a tour of Europe to assemble a team.

“We had to go out and find what we could and then train up a lot of kids out of school,” says Dutton, noting one of his best finds was a bus driver in Cologne, Germany.

“Where they come from is always surprising. We looked long and hard for our talent.”

Dutton says all that work is paying off as proof that he can do what he loves from Canada.

“I’m working out of Calgary right now and the comment I hear most often is, ‘What the heck are you doing there? Get to Los Angeles, get to Toronto, go somewhere else where there’s a bigger industry,’ ” he says.

“But I think a certain amount of credibility now comes along with this Oscar nomination…. People think now, ‘Wow, maybe we can send it to him and do it there.’ After all, Edinburgh was not the centre of animation — we had to build a team from scratch and we could do the same thing from here.”

Dutton says he’s in talks over possibly co-producing an adaptation of the Raymond Briggs book “Ethel and Earnest,” which would feature animation work done in Calgary.

He’s also keen to score his first directing credit with an adaptation of “Spring-Heeled Jack” by “The Golden Compass” author Philip Pullman. He says talks are still in the very early stages but that Pullman is eager to collaborate.

As for whether he’ll be at the Oscars, Dutton says that depends on Chomet’s ability to parcel out a ticket for him. If Dutton goes, he says he’ll likely be seated at “the kiddie table” — for filmmakers who are not directly nominated themselves but are attached to nominated films.

Chomet would be the one to accept the trophy if “The Illusionist” won, but Dutton says he’s nevertheless elated with the film’s success.

“It may sound immodest, but just this once I’ll be immodest and say that I’m happy to have been a major part of making this film,” says Dutton, adding that he’s decided to wear a Scottish kilt if he attends the bash.

“I do avoid Googling myself because it seems very vain, but maybe I’ll start.”

Source: CTV News

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Front Page, Industry News

Canadian animator eschews big studio fare

TORONTO – Being up for big film prizes has taught Canadian animator Paul Dutton one thing: he’s a poor loser.

The Calgary-based filmmaker, who served as assistant director on the Oscar-nominated film “The Illusionist,” says that’s what he realized the moment the hand-drawn French movie lost the Golden Globe award to “Toy Story 3” earlier this year.

The two films gear up for another showdown at the Academy Awards on Feb. 27, alongside “How To Train Your Dragon.”

This time, Dutton says he’s looking forward to the awards bash with simple gratitude.

“You can’t hold your breath and expect it,” Dutton, 38, said of the film’s chances at the Oscars.

“If we were to receive it I’d be very, very happy.”

By all accounts, the race for best animated feature is shaping up to be a battle between studio giants and the little French film that could.

“Toy Story 3,” from Pixar, and “How To Train Your Dragon,” from Dreamworks, are 3D computer-generated extravaganzas. “The Illusionist” is a poetic throwback to classic animated storytelling, featuring delicate hand-drawn characters and a lyrical tale almost devoid of dialogue.

It was co-written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2003 film “The Triplets of Belleville,” and 1998’s animated short “La vieille dame et les pigeons.”

“The Illusionist” centres on an aging travelling magician who develops a friendship with a naive hotel chambermaid after they meet in a Scottish village.

The screenplay was adapted from a script by the late French comic legend Jacques Tati, with its gangly hero evoking the image of Tati himself in the magician’s hunched torso and lanky hands that hang from jacket sleeves that are just a smidgen too short.

Dutton was brought on board to assemble a team of some 100 animators and oversee their work, which largely took place in Edinburgh. He met Chomet when he was hired to draw for him on “The Triplets of Belleville,” which was mostly animated in Montreal and Toronto.

Dutton says the moment he joined “Triplets” marked a calculated decision to pursue a career in filmmaking that was independent, and a little unorthodox.

“I can remember I was working on a project called ‘Osmosis Jones’ which was a big feature film for Warner Brothers when I heard about the ‘Triplets of Belleville’ being produced,” says Dutton, who studied animation for two summer semesters at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

“I left the Warner Brothers picture to join ‘The Triplets of Belleville.’ It wasn’t as widely distributed but it was artistically more interesting.”

“It was a bit more quirky, a bit more independent. It was garage rock whereas ‘Osmosis Jones’ might be something produced in a large studio.”

Dutton, who was raised in Saskatchewan, says he’s always worked as a freelancer and never pursued a career in Hollywood, unlike some of his Sheridan peers. Famous graduates include Ottawa-born Dean DeBlois, who co-wrote and co-directed “How To Train Your Dragon.”

And while he’d consider trying CG work, Dutton says he prefers hand-drawn, 2D animation.

“I’m a bit of a throwback in that respect,” says Dutton, whose varied career includes 3D commercials and Xbox video games.

“‘Monsters Inc.’ is one of my favourites and ‘Up’ and ‘WALL-E’ are great films but my own career path, it just seems I’ve stuck with 2D and now it seems to me it’s a niche that I have that I quite enjoy inhabiting.”

Still, Dutton says doing things the old-fashioned way can mean painstaking work, noting that Chomet as a director “is very, very particular about what he wants and he’s extremely demanding.”

“When we were making the ‘Illusionist’ we were in production for three and a half years… and I saw every drawing as it was done. If we make a change to the animation it’s more difficult to make that change when you’re doing it by hand because it’s not simply moving the (computer) model around. … When you’re doing it in 2D there’s a certain intimacy with the characters (and) when it’s done well it certainly shows up on the screen.”

Deciding to work in this style also made it difficult to find the right talent for the job, he adds. Many animators they pursued were doing special effects or 3D work and did not want to return to hand-drawn animation, says Dutton. He embarked on a tour of Europe to assemble a team.

“We had to go out and find what we could and then train up a lot of kids out of school,” says Dutton, noting one of his best finds was a bus driver in Cologne, Germany.

“Where they come from is always surprising. We looked long and hard for our talent.”

Dutton says all that work is paying off as proof that he can do what he loves from Canada.

“I’m working out of Calgary right now and the comment I hear most often is, ‘What the heck are you doing there? Get to Los Angeles, get to Toronto, go somewhere else where there’s a bigger industry,’ ” he says.

“But I think a certain amount of credibility now comes along with this Oscar nomination…. People think now, ‘Wow, maybe we can send it to him and do it there.’ After all, Edinburgh was not the centre of animation — we had to build a team from scratch and we could do the same thing from here.”

Dutton says he’s in talks over possibly co-producing an adaptation of the Raymond Briggs book “Ethel and Earnest,” which would feature animation work done in Calgary.

He’s also keen to score his first directing credit with an adaptation of “Spring-Heeled Jack” by “The Golden Compass” author Philip Pullman. He says talks are still in the very early stages but that Pullman is eager to collaborate.

As for whether he’ll be at the Oscars, Dutton says that depends on Chomet’s ability to parcel out a ticket for him. If Dutton goes, he says he’ll likely be seated at “the kiddie table” — for filmmakers who are not directly nominated themselves but are attached to nominated films.

Chomet would be the one to accept the trophy if “The Illusionist” won, but Dutton says he’s nevertheless elated with the film’s success.

“It may sound immodest, but just this once I’ll be immodest and say that I’m happy to have been a major part of making this film,” says Dutton, adding that he’s decided to wear a Scottish kilt if he attends the bash.

“I do avoid Googling myself because it seems very vain, but maybe I’ll start.”

Source: CTV News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Canadian animator eschews big studio fare

TORONTO – Being up for big film prizes has taught Canadian animator Paul Dutton one thing: he’s a poor loser.

The Calgary-based filmmaker, who served as assistant director on the Oscar-nominated film “The Illusionist,” says that’s what he realized the moment the hand-drawn French movie lost the Golden Globe award to “Toy Story 3” earlier this year.

The two films gear up for another showdown at the Academy Awards on Feb. 27, alongside “How To Train Your Dragon.”

This time, Dutton says he’s looking forward to the awards bash with simple gratitude.

“You can’t hold your breath and expect it,” Dutton, 38, said of the film’s chances at the Oscars.

“If we were to receive it I’d be very, very happy.”

By all accounts, the race for best animated feature is shaping up to be a battle between studio giants and the little French film that could.

“Toy Story 3,” from Pixar, and “How To Train Your Dragon,” from Dreamworks, are 3D computer-generated extravaganzas. “The Illusionist” is a poetic throwback to classic animated storytelling, featuring delicate hand-drawn characters and a lyrical tale almost devoid of dialogue.

It was co-written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2003 film “The Triplets of Belleville,” and 1998’s animated short “La vieille dame et les pigeons.”

“The Illusionist” centres on an aging travelling magician who develops a friendship with a naive hotel chambermaid after they meet in a Scottish village.

The screenplay was adapted from a script by the late French comic legend Jacques Tati, with its gangly hero evoking the image of Tati himself in the magician’s hunched torso and lanky hands that hang from jacket sleeves that are just a smidgen too short.

Dutton was brought on board to assemble a team of some 100 animators and oversee their work, which largely took place in Edinburgh. He met Chomet when he was hired to draw for him on “The Triplets of Belleville,” which was mostly animated in Montreal and Toronto.

Dutton says the moment he joined “Triplets” marked a calculated decision to pursue a career in filmmaking that was independent, and a little unorthodox.

“I can remember I was working on a project called ‘Osmosis Jones’ which was a big feature film for Warner Brothers when I heard about the ‘Triplets of Belleville’ being produced,” says Dutton, who studied animation for two summer semesters at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

“I left the Warner Brothers picture to join ‘The Triplets of Belleville.’ It wasn’t as widely distributed but it was artistically more interesting.”

“It was a bit more quirky, a bit more independent. It was garage rock whereas ‘Osmosis Jones’ might be something produced in a large studio.”

Dutton, who was raised in Saskatchewan, says he’s always worked as a freelancer and never pursued a career in Hollywood, unlike some of his Sheridan peers. Famous graduates include Ottawa-born Dean DeBlois, who co-wrote and co-directed “How To Train Your Dragon.”

And while he’d consider trying CG work, Dutton says he prefers hand-drawn, 2D animation.

“I’m a bit of a throwback in that respect,” says Dutton, whose varied career includes 3D commercials and Xbox video games.

“‘Monsters Inc.’ is one of my favourites and ‘Up’ and ‘WALL-E’ are great films but my own career path, it just seems I’ve stuck with 2D and now it seems to me it’s a niche that I have that I quite enjoy inhabiting.”

Still, Dutton says doing things the old-fashioned way can mean painstaking work, noting that Chomet as a director “is very, very particular about what he wants and he’s extremely demanding.”

“When we were making the ‘Illusionist’ we were in production for three and a half years… and I saw every drawing as it was done. If we make a change to the animation it’s more difficult to make that change when you’re doing it by hand because it’s not simply moving the (computer) model around. … When you’re doing it in 2D there’s a certain intimacy with the characters (and) when it’s done well it certainly shows up on the screen.”

Deciding to work in this style also made it difficult to find the right talent for the job, he adds. Many animators they pursued were doing special effects or 3D work and did not want to return to hand-drawn animation, says Dutton. He embarked on a tour of Europe to assemble a team.

“We had to go out and find what we could and then train up a lot of kids out of school,” says Dutton, noting one of his best finds was a bus driver in Cologne, Germany.

“Where they come from is always surprising. We looked long and hard for our talent.”

Dutton says all that work is paying off as proof that he can do what he loves from Canada.

“I’m working out of Calgary right now and the comment I hear most often is, ‘What the heck are you doing there? Get to Los Angeles, get to Toronto, go somewhere else where there’s a bigger industry,’ ” he says.

“But I think a certain amount of credibility now comes along with this Oscar nomination…. People think now, ‘Wow, maybe we can send it to him and do it there.’ After all, Edinburgh was not the centre of animation — we had to build a team from scratch and we could do the same thing from here.”

Dutton says he’s in talks over possibly co-producing an adaptation of the Raymond Briggs book “Ethel and Earnest,” which would feature animation work done in Calgary.

He’s also keen to score his first directing credit with an adaptation of “Spring-Heeled Jack” by “The Golden Compass” author Philip Pullman. He says talks are still in the very early stages but that Pullman is eager to collaborate.

As for whether he’ll be at the Oscars, Dutton says that depends on Chomet’s ability to parcel out a ticket for him. If Dutton goes, he says he’ll likely be seated at “the kiddie table” — for filmmakers who are not directly nominated themselves but are attached to nominated films.

Chomet would be the one to accept the trophy if “The Illusionist” won, but Dutton says he’s nevertheless elated with the film’s success.

“It may sound immodest, but just this once I’ll be immodest and say that I’m happy to have been a major part of making this film,” says Dutton, adding that he’s decided to wear a Scottish kilt if he attends the bash.

“I do avoid Googling myself because it seems very vain, but maybe I’ll start.”

Source: CTV News

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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