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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Animation Director Alain Delannoy on 'The Talk True Stories About the Birds & the Bees' (2016)

Producer/Director/DOP Alain Delannoy's short animation film 'The Talk True Stories About the Birds & the Bees' (2016) relates the very adult story about grownup men remembering the moment their fathers explained to them about the birds and the bees. Since its premiere, it has since been travelling to international festivals picking up numerous awards in its wake, including the Prix De Varti Award at Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Audience Award at Dawson City International Short Film Festival, First Prize Animation at Rhode Island International Film Festival, Best Animation Short at Warsaw International Festival with a nomination for Best Animated Short at Tribeca Film Festival. This is Alain's third short film as director.


I recently interviewed Alain about his experience making the film and travelling the festival circuit. Here is what he had to say:


What made you want to get into animation? Do you prefer it to live action?

ALAIN: I always loved animation from a young age.  In particular, I was a huge fan of Bugs Bunny. Saturday would not have been the same without Looney Tunes. I was a teenager when Disney’s Aladdin was released, and I remember going to see it with my younger cousins. I was blown away by the character animation. After seeing it in the movie theatre that day, something hit me.... for the first time, I realized that people actually make these films for a living. I started reading books and everything I could find on the topic of animation and how it gets made. This led to going to art school, discovering independent animators like Fredrick Back and NFB greats like Norman McLaren. I was so inspired. From then on, I’ve been doing my best to keep exploring animation. Now I do love live action, but I really like the possibilities and also the control you can have in animation. True, it can be very solitary at times, but there is something so wonderful about seeing a sequence put together for the first time.


I loved that your film deals with something everyone goes through in their life. Are these trues stories?

ALAIN: Yes, they were all true stories. It was critical to get true and honest recollections. I first asked friends to come tell me their stories. Then their friends got involved in the project. As word spread that I was preparing this film, a strange thing occurred. I got a few calls from absolute strangers who asked if I was actually making this film because they had a good story to tell. I asked everyone not to tell me their story before they had the microphone in front of them. I wanted it to be the first time they told me their story. This way, the storytelling was fresh. In all, I collected thirty five individual recordings.  Later, I edited it down to only eight stories that seemed to work best together. 


How long did it take you to make?

ALAIN: From start to finish, the film took approximately three and a half years to produce. First, there was collecting the true stories and the audio work that goes with that. Once the audio was put together, there was the interesting task of find the right visual structure, look and ton for each story. Much of the film is hand drawn; therefore, I was restricted a bit by how fast I could draw sequences. I also wanted to explore different animation techniques in the film so each story has an extra added effect. This choice was also made because I wanted something special in each story as each story was unique.


Do you have plans to turn it into a feature?

ALAIN: I love the idea of developing a feature. Since I have started the festival circuit, an interesting thing continues to play out. After every screening, a few members of the audience approach me to tell me their ‘Talk’ stories. I can safely say that I have enough material for a feature. I guess the question is time and money. I must say that I really am in love with the short format. There is a beauty in working on something with a short run time. 


Do you prefer animation that deals with adult subjects?

ALAIN: Not necessarily. I am always open to where the next project might take me. I did really enjoyed working on this film. In fact, I would say it’s the most fun I’ve ever had working on a short film.


Your film has been travelling to international film festivals. How have audience reactions been?

ALAIN: Yes, the film has been travelling to some great festivals and I have enjoyed seeing how people react to it. I think it's because the subject is very universal. We all have a story about ‘the Talk’ (or in some cases don’t have a story and wonder why we didn’t get ‘the Talk’ ....or wonder how we got so lucky to not get a ‘the Talk'). Truly the best part is hearing people reflect after the screening on how it was when they grew up. The topic of sexual education is important. It’s a mystery as to why it is so awkward to talk to our kids (or teenagers) about sex and sexuality. It’s equally mysterious as to why it’s difficult to hear ‘the Talk’ from our parents. It’s something that is so human. I love that people are thinking about sex education after the screening. A few months ago, a couple saw the film at a festival presentation. The next day after the screening, one of the two saw me again. She approached me and then told me that her and her husband had talked about my film on their drive home that night. Their conversation ended with: “Did you talk to our 12 year old son yet?” The other then replied, “I thought you were going to talk to him!” And for the first time, I felt that maybe I had set the stage for someone’s ‘Talk’.


What do you plan on making next?

ALAIN: I am doing more recordings and interviews. I’m exploring themes of 'maturity', but not sure exactly how the stories will shape into a film. It’s part of the fun of filmmaking. There is a lot of discovery, exploring subjects, testing things out and finding something awesome.   


See film's website here:

Interview by Vanessa McMahon

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