Oscar nomination sets bar high for Montrealer's second film
Patrick Doyon, whose animated short film titled Sunday/Dimanche, is nominated for an Oscar, poses for a photo in his studio Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Nelson Wyatt, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:36AM EST
MONTREAL - Patrick Doyon is well aware of the implications of getting an Oscar nomination for his first professional film, "Sunday."
"It puts more pressure on me for the second one," he said with a grin in his Montreal studio before heading to Tinseltown.
"Sunday" is one of two National Film Board of Canada movies in contention in the best animated short film category, the other being "Wild Life," by fellow NFB animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis.
A cold picked up during his last visit to Los Angeles doesn't dampen Doyon's enthusiasm at the thought of walking the fabled red carpet.
"It's very exciting," said Doyon, who screamed with joy as he watched the Oscar nominations being announced on the Internet with his girlfriend and daughter last month.
"It's a little bit intimidating because there are lots of stars there. But it's not a thing that happens often so I will try to appreciate each moment."
Now the soft-spoken filmmaker has been measured for a new suit and is doing the pre-Oscar rounds in Hollywood before the gold statues are handed out on Feb. 26.
The film is a charming tour through a child's imagination as he tries to cope with a numbingly boring Sunday visit to his grandparents with his parents.
"I wanted to tell a story about boredom without boring the audience," Doyon said. "But everything is exaggerated so it's not an autobiographical film."
Besides passing muster with the Oscar crowd, "Sunday" has also drawn accolades from a key audience -- Doyon's family.
"They were really happy about it," the 32-year-old said, pointing out they knew it didn't really reflect what he felt about those post-church visits to grandma's.
Unlike many animators today, Doyon chose to go the old-school route with the film; he painstakingly drew each of the frames himself rather than use a computer animation program.
"For me, it was a natural choice," said Doyon, who alternates between animation and doing illustrations for books and magazines.
He says he feels more natural working with pencil and paper because he's actually still learning how to do computer animation.
"It took me two years to do it," he said of the 10-minute film. "Every second of the film is drawn, there's no special effects. Everything is drawn, even the snow in the film."
He said he believes traditional animation is better for showing emotion.
"It's just a different feeling with drawing. For me, it's more warm."
But the bottom line, he points out, is "the important thing is the story."
Doyon was part of the NFB's Hothouse program in 2006 for budding animators and created his three-minute short "Square Roots" when he was there. That apprentice-program film is available on a compilation DVD sold by the film board.
He said the program gave him a good grounding to work on future films because it took participants through every step of the production process.
"It's important to have this kind of program to give a chance to a young filmmaker to get inside the production process and to get them prepared for the future."
"Sunday," which can be bought through the NFB website, has already been honoured at film festivals in North America and Europe, including a special mention prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Besides dealing with the Oscar hoopla, Doyon is also busy with other projects.
He's now illustrating a children's book and will start working on the script for his next film later this year. He says it will also likely be drawn from his childhood memories and be an intergenerational tale.
Doyon says he likes alternating between animation and illustration but doesn't have a preference.
"I like them both," he said. "It's different. For illustration, you have to put more details because the reader can pass a long period of time analyzing the details.
"For animation, you know that if you miss a drawing, that's OK because the seconds pass and the audience will forget about it."
He says he's not interested in making a full-length feature film right now.
"I like the short format," he said. "We can put so much emotion in a short period of time."
And don't worry about Doyon being bored on Sundays anymore.
He says that ended when he discovered American football.