The director of the NFB's Oscar-nominated short discusses his design challenges and personal inspiration.
Patrick Doyon is an illustrator who participated in the National Film Board of Canada's Hothouse program, a 12-week paid animation apprenticeship for burgeoning Canadian filmmakers. The NFB then gave him a grant to make Sunday/Dimanche, his first short.
Bill Desowitz: This is such a lovely and precious film. Was it autobiographical?
Patrick Doyon: No, it's not an autobiographical film but is based on my memories and everything is transformed and exaggerated. For example, I have brother and a cousin, so I was not alone in my family.
BD: But you've obviously incorporated vivid memories of coming home from mass and listening to the family clutter around like crows.
PD: The crows are fictional but I come from a remote region and there are a lot of crows on the road searching for food. It's based a little bit on that idea.
BD: How did the idea of the coin originate?
PD: My house was next to a train track and I liked to watch the train pass, and everyone used to try and put the coins on the track, and so it's based on that. It's a way to escape the boredom of Sundays.
BD: It's a transformative experience?
PD: Yeah, and the part of the bear is from his imagination. And he realizes that the train running over the coin is killing his imagination. And he's becoming more of an adult at the end.
BD: What were the design challenges for you?
PD: I did a lot of research for the design because I had difficulty to light the little boy. And there are many versions of him and once I found the design for the boy, I designed everything around him. We have the feeling that everything is in the same universe and it was important for me that it's all on the same level of graphic design.
BD: How did you arrive at the graphic look?
PD: I don't consider myself an excellent animator, so the challenge was finding a simple design that I could animate easily.
BD: What did you find that was helpful?
PD: I like reading comic books and there's a lot of inspiration in that. I also like the design of the films from Folimage. There was inspiration in that.
BD: So what was it like for you moving on to animation?
PD: Animating was not very difficult because the graphical design was OK for me. But there were some things that were more complicated for me because of the elements in the scene. But in general, it was a good process.
BD: What were the hardest scenes?
At the end, when the boy opens the car by himself and enters the car and the mother closes the door, it was a difficult scene. I think maybe it's the longest scene of the film.
BD: Do you have a favorite part?
PD: I'm very happy with the last part when the boy puts the hat on his head and the fun of coming back home at night, and the last scene with the factory, I think, closes it well.
BD: The color palette is very simple: Talk about your use of color.
PD: About the palette of color, in the beginning of this production, I wanted a lot of high contrast, but since this is more melancholy in tone, I changed the color and it was more gray or blue or faded colors.
BD: What has been your take away from this short and what are you working on next?
PD: Right now I'm doing illustrations for a children's book, and after that, later in the year, I will begin a new script for an animated short. I don't know the story yet but I have some ideas and concepts.
BD: What is the theme?
PD: I want to explore the theme of generational conflict because, in Sunday, there is the boy, the father and the grandfather, and I want to explore that kind of link between the three generations.
BD: Yeah, it's fascinating how certain traits get carried on when you least expect it.
PD: Yes, since I've been a father for two years, I've realized in doing some stuff my father did, it's hard to escape from patterns. This is the kind of story I want to explore.
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. He has a new blog, Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), and is currently writing a book about the evolution of James Bond from Connery to Craig, scheduled for publication this year, which is the 50th anniversary of the franchise.