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The Big Picture: Working Conditions of Independent Animators

May 11, 2019 | 5:00 pm6:00 pm

| Free

What is it like to be an independent animator? What challenges do independent Animators face finding funding for their work, conveying their visions to producers, and scrounging for the vast amount of time needed to make films frame by frame? What supports are available from arts organizations? And how can we put our heads together to improve living and working conditions for these independent artists?

This panel features special guests Michael Fukushima (Executive Producer of the National Film Board’s English Animation Studio), laura jeanne lefave (Program Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts), and award-winning independent animators Steve Woloshen and Sam Decoste.

It is for aspiring independent animators, commercial animators who want to know how the other half lives, and members of the public who would like to see behind the curtain on the process that has brought us some of the greatest Canadian films ever made.


Sam Decoste is an independent animator, curator, and educator who believes in the power of stories. Decoste directed and animated the documentary short Mary & Myself (National Film Board prod. Annette Clarke 2013), which was nominated for a 2014 Best Short Documentary Canadian Screen Award and won the Shelagh MacKenzie Award for Excellence in Filmmaking from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Their installation, Cahun: Framed (2015), was featured at the Animation Festival of Halifax last year. This year Decoste is the curator and mentor of the four- person installation project entitled Under the Rug.

Michael Fukushima is the head of the National Film Board of Canada’s world-renowned Animation Studio, in Montreal. He has been making films since 1984, which is a lot of water under the bridge. Fukushima joined the NFB Animation Studio in 1990 as a filmmaker, then became a studio producer, and is now executive producer and studio head, with a lot of films (and some awards) under his belt. He now mostly produces the producers and offers up sagacity and wise-cracking bon mots.

laura jeanne lefave is Program Officer for the Explore and Create program of the Canada Council for the Arts. The Canada Council is the national funder for the arts which supports individual artists and arts organizations through grants, services, prizes, and payments. Lefave is herself a dedicated champion of the arts who assists artists, curators, and organizations with specific advice through information sessions and grant-writing workshops across the country and by responding to individual questions.

Steven Woloshen has created over 50 abstract films and time-based installations for festivals, galleries and museums. His accolades include the 2016 René Jodoin and 2015 Wiesbaden  Lifetime Achievement Awards and two Governor General’s award nominations. Woloshen is a teacher, film conservationist, animator, craftsman and the author of Recipes for Reconstruction: The Cookbook for the Frugal Filmmaker (2010), a hands-on manual for handmade, analogue film techniques, and Scratch, Crackle & Pop! A Whole Grains Approach to Making Films without a Camera (2015). As Scratchatopia, Woloshen has hosted solo retrospectives and workshops in Europe, North America and Northern Africa.

Under the Rug: The Invisibility of Art Labour

Under the Rug is an animation exhibition that reflects on the often laborious process of creating art, and the disconnect between art’s consumption and creation.

The show features the work of performance and multimedia artist Annie Onyi Cheung, visual artist Angela Henderson, film and theatre artist Tara Taylor and interdisciplinary artist Tom Elliott. Each artist has created an animated response to the theme through the lens of their respective practice.

Their individual installations can be seen throughout the festival grounds: in the board room, the hallway, the coat room and the screening room, making the exhibition a part of instead of an addition to the festival.

Dedicated viewing times: Launch 5pm-6:30 Thursday May 9, & Installations Cocktail Social 5pm-7 Friday May 10


Presented in partnership with


May 11, 2019
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
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