Monday, February 26, 2007

Torill Kove

Torill who? You might be asking. Well, Torill Kove, this year's Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short film, that's who!!! Her film the Danish Poet took top honour this year beating out the household names of Disney and Blue Sky. So, it was nice to see the underdog take it for all the little independent guys who did not make it onto the final nomination ballot. Congratulation to Torill and her team!!! Here is the official film site! Also, be sure to check the interview.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Spared Change and Ryan Larkin R.I.P.

The fine art of wallowing is the walk that I have been trying to perfect for the last little while. Frantically but methodically I pace back and forth trying to remember all the steps that make up this Danse Macabre. It is like chasing an anamorphic shadow that can only be caught in the spinning reflection of my former self. Fractured soundloops of memory work up to a fever pitch as the skeletons emerge out of the shadow box. Looming over me, the parallax makes them gigantic and skewed and I move further away from myself. I try and look back but I can only squint at the bottom line of hindsight. Lost in this closed circuit, I finally find some solace in the passing light of Ryan Larkin. Here, let me stumble back to a beginning...
I first read about Ryan Larkin in an article that Chris Robinson wrote for AWN back in 2000. I was immediately taken in. A gifted animator fallen from grace at the hands of a 'rock n' roll' lifestyle. Cool! I thought that Walt being strung out on meglomaniacy was the only secret tabloid of the industry. So, it was here that 'the Pimp' got me hooked on Ryan and the animation world. I wanted to find out more about Ryan. I even toyed with the idea of making a documentary about him (believe it or not). Anyway, a couple of year's past and I heard a rumour that Ryan was going to be working on his first film in decades with the help of the Quickdraw Animation Society and the Ottawa Film Co-op. But, when I asked Chris about it, he said that the deal had fallen through because it would have hurt his welfare cheque and that was all he had left (see Chris's article for the details). It was like Ryan exuded a stench of pathos but did not want anyone to help clean him up. Like some medieval Flaggellant, he masticated himself with the drink and the harshness of life's blows. This was penance of beer, piss and brine that preserved an image of self no matter how grotesque. But then, Chris Landreth came along and held up a mirror. Landreth not only did "a" documentary, he tapped into the power of animated documentaries (i.e. Sproxton and Lord, Park and Fierlinger to name a few) and he brought a credibility to the plastic eye candy of CG. The finished product, Ryan, was a two-headed silver coin in Ryan's cup that exposed the face of failure, bitterness and all, on the one side. But more importantly, re-illuminated the films of Ryan on the otherside and the uncalculable face value that he has contributed to the animation world. Landreth, as everyone in the world should know, went on to win an Academy award but more significantly Ryan Larkin was given the Norman McLaren Heritage award (or was at least nominated) to much dismay of some people in the Animation community. My point is that the light source was turned up a notch for Ryan and the genuine outpouring of respect from everyone might of just spared some change in him. This was then magnified with the help and support of friend Laurie Gordon and his shadow shortened even more. Then lo and behold Ryan started working on a film called Spare Change. He also recently completed idents for Mtv!! I definately do not want to make this into some Disney film ending! I am just saying that even though he clung onto loss for decades, it makes me happy to see that he was starting to get that something back of his former self even if it was just more money for drink. But I do think it goes deeper than that though. Maybe it is the hope of seeing someone coming back from the shadows that I cling to? Whatever it is, my hat is tipped, as well as my perspective, to the life and work of Ryan Larkin. He has shown me that there are different kinds of walks and maybe I can find my own way back onto the path I started 7 years ago.
Cheers to Ryan for he was a gentle soul and an inspiration.