Artist - Lynn Dana Wilton

I started out an institutional/healthcare designer with a Ryerson BAAID.  In addition to the usual interior design training, I learned introductory cabinetmaking, model building, and furniture prototype design/build; useful after graduating Sheridan (2001) when I found myself applying to a stop-motion TV production as I started out in sets/props.  Commercially, with studios such as Cuppa Coffee, Halifax Film Corp., and Alliance Atlantis, I’ve mostly stuck with stop-mo (& am currently directing a small TV production) as well as working with some fine artists incorporating animation (stop-mo, classical, paper puppets) into their installations and gallery shows.  Independently I’ve been branching out into more experimental territory these last few years with scratch-on-film, sand, objects, paper puppets, macro lens work, and … well, whatever I can get my hands on.

Commercial Demo Reel (current) from Lynn Dana Wilton on Vimeo.

Where, in Canada, am I from?
From (and there again currently) what used to be a tiny, historic village a little rundown at the edges but with some real character north-east of Toronto but is now just a generic wanna-be part of the sprawl:  Unionville, Ontario.   I’ve lived in Toronto extensively, Oakville briefly, and Halifax, Nova Scotia for several years (and miss it fiercely).

"(Re)Cycle" Earth Sequence - Sand Animation, Erruption Imminent

What roles do I play in creating animation?
In commercial stop-motion I’m currently working as a director but mostly have been paid to be an animator on TV series and specials.  I’ve also worked a bit on sets, set dressing, props, and puppets. As an independent filmmaker, I do pretty much everything.  And I’ve worked a bizarre little niche as a preparer of animation cels for appraisal on their way to being donated to galleries.

"(Re)Cycle" Water Sequence - Make-Do Multi-plane with Lighting Gobo

What is the one project I’m proud to have been involved in?
I’ve been proud of almost everything I’ve had an opportunity to work on and grateful to have worked with all the amazing people those projects have put me in touch with but I think the Scratch Track project for the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2002 was special.

My partners, Ryan Fairley, Matt Ferguson, Mike Weiss, and I were mentored by the singularly creative and talented filmmaker Richard Reeves under the facilitation of inexhaustible and unflappable Ellen Besen.  We created a direct-to-film (scratched, burned, drawn, painted) work with hand-drawn sound as a base track.  We then drew our own sounds on film, experimented, then rehearsed them on a squawk box and three 16 mm projectors to provide a live-performed soundtrack to the film on the opening and closing nights of the OIAF.

Scratch Track (2002) from Lynn Dana Wilton on Vimeo.

It was a one-of-a-kind project that taught me heaps, provided me with a meaningful application for my newly-minted animation training when the industry wasn’t hiring, proved to me that four people can survive a hotel room with only two beds and still like each other at the end of the week, and helped create/cement relationships with some of my favourite people in the world.

"Celestial Red & Blue" - Animating with Toothpicks Under a Macro Lens

What inspired me to create animation?
Hmm.  I don’t know if I can reduce it to just one or two elements.  My Mom is convinced that letting me watch a puppet show in a grocery store parking lot when I was a toddler put me on the ‘road to ruin’.

"Robot Monster Us" - Silhouette Puppets Ready to Wreak Havoc on Planet Earth

I remember some of the big Disney moments (Malificent turning into the dragon, the abstract Bach fugue bits of “Fantasia” as well as the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, “Dumbo” Pink Elephants on Parade) but I think the biggest influences were smaller.  Seeing Lotte Reiniger’s “Thumbelina” at a grade 2 birthday party, numerous NFB shorts, Potterton’s Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales on TV, Sunday afternoon television screenings of Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies and specials like “The Adventures of Mark Twain” or “The Point”, and “Sesame Street” shorts, i.e. The “E” Poem, “The Lost Boy and the Yo-Yo Man”, “We All Live In a Capital I”, etc. all seemed to have had a more lasting impact on me and my preferred styles.

I was lucky that my Dad took us out to some good movies even though we couldn’t afford much. Films like “Watership Down” and live-action stuff like “Time Bandits” kept that desire stoked.

"Star Blanket" (for Rebecca Baird) - 288 Pieces of Plexiglass Under Camera

Who is one of my favourite Canadian animators?
One?  Tough.  Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart (who doesn’t get nearly enough recognition), Patrick Bouchard, and Caroline Leaf go without saying … and there are a ton more I admire … but I think my favourite might be Frédéric Back.

One of my favourite memories of my time at Sheridan was the year Kaj Pindal (also another favourite) started teaching first-year history.  I was in second-year but had spoken to Kaj about my love of many NFB artists and film.  Kaj caught me in the hall one day to let me know he had a 16 mm print of “The Man Who Planted Trees” for his first-years.  I skipped class to ‘sneak in’, tripping and making a big noise on the way, which bought me a hearty greeting from Kaj and a big smile from a good-friend-to-be.

Sitting there in the dark and watching “TMWPT, absolutely luminous (an experience completely lost to most of us watching digital projection images, now), was practically a religious experience.

Watching Back’s films is like hearing the loons call while canoeing in Algonquin Park, standing in front of a Tom Thomson or Lawren Harris painting, or listening to k.d. lang cover Neil Young’s “Helpless” or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  There is something about them that so hauntingly evokes the wider Canadian spaces and nostalgia for what we could have been as a nation that’s completely devoid of the sugary glory-coating or jingoism our current administration seems to promote.

His films make my heart ache.  What a sad loss to our cultural landscape it was to lose him last Christmas.

What is one of my favourite animation books?
Aardman’s “Creating 3-D Animation: The Aardman Book of Filmmaking” by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, forward by Nick Park, hands down.

Amazon Link - Creating 3-D Animation: The Aardman Book of Filmmaking

There’s also an amazing book either by or involving a lot of NFB artists and their many/various techniques but it’s gone missing in recent years and I haven’t found another copy.  I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember the name of it.

Honourable mention:  “Cartoon Capers: The History of Canadian Animators” by Karen Mazurkewich.

Amazon Link - Cartoon Capers: The History of Canadian Animators

Who is an up-and-coming Canadian animator everyone should watch?
I think Bryce Hallett has already gone on about Jonathan Ng (which I heartily second) but I’ll use my space to promote Philip Eddolls.  I know Phil through his work at Cuppa Coffee Studios.  “Git Gob”  with the NFB’s ‘Hothouse 5’ collection is a must-see and “Wat a Wonderful Day”, while definitely not to everyone’s taste, is a great demonstration of his amazing timing, excellent technique, and, shall we say, unique angle on humour.  His storytelling style is truly efficient.

Honourable mentions to Kathy MacDonald, Edlyn Capulong, and Mack Carruthers.

What Canadian animation organisations am I involved with?
I’ve been a member of TAIS, the Toronto Animated Image Society, (and sat on the Board of Directors for a year back in 2002) since 2001, though missed a few years when I was out east (where I had a little bit of contact with AFCOOP and was impressed by them).

TAIS has gone through a lot of change since I first joined and I’m delighted by the new co-op space at 1411 Dufferin St.  They do an excellent job of supporting independent animation in Toronto and getting it out to a broader community, both within the city and abroad.  I’ve taught several workshops with them, taken a lot more, gone to numerous screenings, lectures, and events, and met a lot of amazing filmmakers and enthusiasts.

I’ve also lent a hand/volunteered a little with TAAFI, the Toronto Animated Arts Festival International and feel strongly that they should be supported (preferably with some major funding).

What animation awards have I won?
Still waiting.  *sniff*


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"(Re)Cycle" by Lynn Dana Wilton
Animated Short Film

"(Re)Cycle" (2011) from Lynn Dana Wilton on Vimeo.