The studio was crammed with interesting bits of artistry that clearly pulled in influences from a broad base of culture — art, theatre and film. Amidst the puppets, props, collage assemblages, posters and paraphernalia, I remember one sign that they had up on the wall, that said something like, “an impossible task, a tight budget and a crazy deadline are the mothers of invention”. No doubt, a little spirit catcher for stray producers.
Marcy (right) celebrating with the The Danish Poet team after the Oscar win last year. © AWN Inc.
I sent out six questions to the nominees and producers of the nominated shorts. I’m hoping everyone will have time to answer them before the Tour begins, however I know how unbelievably busy they are at the moment. Marcy Page, producer of Madame Tutli-Putli and Oscar Tour alum, has written back and here is what she had to say about the Oscar experience, as well as the eye-catching stop-motion film that she worked on. (Okay, that was a pun I couldn’t resist).
Rick: How did you hear about your nomination? Did you wait up? Did someone call you?
Marcy: My husband, Normand, and I listened to the Academy announcement on television in the morning in Montreal and when Kathy Bates stopped after the major film nomination categories, I immediately went to the website and saw Madame Tutli-Putli listed with the other short animated films. I screamed. And hugged Normand who was not only excited for me but also because of Petrov’s nomination for My Love (he had composed the music for the sound track). So we hugged and screamed. I then immediately called Chris and Maciek, who were at the Sundance Festival. It was around 5:45 am for them but Chris was already up, having checked the Academy site himself. He had just called and woken Maciek. We basically exchanged a lot of inarticulate exclamations of delight and amazement and hysterical laughter. When I got off the phone, it immediately rang and I was surprised and happy to hear Ron Diamond’s voice calling with congratulations. I think I was relatively restrained and I don’t think I screamed in his ear (too much). Then Mia Desroches, our new NFB marketing coordinator, called and I’m sure I did scream again. That sort of thing seemed to play out all day at the NFB.
Rick: Since the nominations came out has anything exciting happened because of the nomination?
Marcy: I think the realization that I would go on the Oscar Tour again was actually the most exciting news for me in the last week or so. We did have a lovely assembly at the NFB where we all toasted the nomination and David Verrall (executive producer for Animation) made a touching speech. I think everyone felt very proud. Though one would think that the NFB would be quite jaded by many past nominations, trust me, this does not get old. Chris and Maciek have gone through a gauntlet of press interviews, being the lightning rods for most of the public and press excitement about the nomination.
The NFB was also collectively pleased that Josh’s film, I Met the Walrus, was nominated too. Many of us know Josh and also the illustrator on the film, James Braithwaite, who is currently working at the NFB. The project in addition to support from Bravo!FACT had a little help from the NFB to make its 35mm print. It has been fun to vicariously experience their excitement as well.
Rick: What was the thing that brought you to your nominated project?
Marcy: Meeting and getting to know Chris and Maciek and finally encouraging them to consider a project with the NFB. I remember visiting them in their Clyde Henry studio (then in Toronto) and coming to the realization that they had that ineffable madness and creative genius to be interesting film creators. The studio was crammed with interesting bits of artistry that clearly pulled in influences from a broad base of culture — art, theatre and film. Amidst the puppets, props, collage assemblages, posters and paraphernalia, I remember one sign that they had up on the wall, that said something like, “an impossible task, a tight budget and a crazy deadline are the mothers of invention”. No doubt, a little spirit catcher for stray producers.
Rick: What made this project special for you?
Marcy: It was special for me to help give Chris and Maciek a chance to make their first serious auteur work. While they had done some commercial work for television, comic books, illustrations that were based on model constructions, they had not really ever made an animated short. They had not really even done much animation beyond exercises and the odd bit in their commercial work. While I knew that they were quite brilliant at synthesizing surprising images, to see them rise to the challenge of learning to animate with such sensitivity and then rise to the challenge of becoming really interesting filmmakers was all quite gratifying. I felt vindicated in my faith.
I was also dazzled by the eye technique that Jason Walker worked out for them using the eyes of our actress/costume designer, Laurie Maher, and seamlessly integrating them into the puppet animation with such perfection. Spending time with Laurie and Jason and also compositor, Peter George, has been fun. I also enjoyed the post-production time with David Bryant and Jean-Frédéric Messier whose work on the sound track was nothing short of miraculous. In addition to being hypnotized by the visuals, I truly love listening to this film.
Rick: In the next couple weeks there will be all kinds of big events going on, is there something that you are particularly looking forward to?
Marcy: I look forward to the studio screenings, the Chocolate Fosca party and the chance to visit again at Skywalker Ranch. I found on the last tour, that by the time our little group got to the Academy reception and screening of the animation and live-action shorts, that we felt so collectively bonded that we were proud not only of our own work but proud of each others’ work and that we could put on such a nice show of animation together. I look forward to seeing that happening again with this years group. I hope there will be a red carpet, but it wouldn’t be such a tragedy if our little tour ended with the Chocolate Fosca party.
Rick: Anything else you’d like to add?
Marcy: Thanks to Ron Diamond and his team (including you too, Rick) for continuing to work so hard to put this tour together. It is a huge amount of work and a labour of love. Bravo encore.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.
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