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Vanessa McMahon


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

 


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Interview with Director of Montreal International Film Festival Laurie Gordon

 

Director of Montreal International Film Festival Laurie Gordon

Laurie Gordon is a producer, writer, director and festival director for the Montreal International Animation Film Festival. Laurie is one of the international film industry's most avid supporters of animation and has recently run the 3rd annual Animation Day at Cannes Film Festival in 2017. Laurie regularly attends the film marketplaces, including Cannes, Berlin and AFM for new innovative animation content.

 

In a recent interview with Laurie, here is what she had to say:

 

How did you begin Montreal International Animation Film Festival?

LAURIE: I am a filmmaker and was shooting a documentary still in the works called' The Flying Animator', a film on legendary Gerald Potterton, director of 'Heavy Metal' who also animated the Beatle's 'Yellow Submarine' among many films. He invited me to film him at an animation film festival here in Montreal, that was Animaze. I went with him as a documentary filmmaker with my film camera in hand. I became friends with the festival director who was an accountant (and still is) and, within a short time, I was helping him out with Animaze. Within that first year he essentially said he didn't want to be at the helm of any festival as it wasn't his thing at all. Too much work! I adopted Animaze as it was going into its second year and baptised it the Montreal International Animation Film Festival.

 

When did you realize that animation needed more exposure in the festival circuit?

LAURIE: Animation is not new to the festival circuit. The festivals have been around for decades. It's simply not everybody's cup of tea but out of the top 10 annual blockbusters, there is often an animated one. Animation as a genre has had new life breathed into it, thanks to the advent of technology and new genres coming out where there is something for everyone.

I have worked with three legendary animators as a producer and co-director including Oscar nominated Ryan Larkin's "Spare Change" (subject of the Oscar winning film "Ryan"), which I directed for him posthumously. I was producer and composer music for Oscar winning animator Co Hoedeman "55 Socks" and now filming a documentary on 3x Oscar nominee Gerald Potterton. Montreal has an enormous animation tradition here as well because of the National Film Board of Canada and Soft Image which was one of the first VFX companies which did the original 'Jurassic Park'. Montreal is also the home of IMAX and so Montreal is the major go to animation city in the world. Oh and let's not forget all the gaming companies here.

 

Have you always loved animation?

LAURIE: Yes I always loved animation, as any child does. I consider myself more a producer of animation and not an animator. I always loved film in general. I did do some rotoscoping on Spare Change because we had a looming deadline and so I've dabbled. I have directed animation film but I am a trained musician first; I graduated from music in university. My first memory of connecting to animation was that I wanted to jump into the television set with the Peanuts Gang before I understood there was nothing "inside the box."

 

Animation Day in Cannes held its 3rd edition this year. How did the evolution of it begin?

LAURIE: Having been on the festival circuit for a while I noticed what I called the "animation orphans" at Cannes. I thought that putting an event together to address all the animation talent was a good idea, so Animation Day in Cannes was born.

 

Animation Day is really growing in importance and popularity as an animation platform. What kinds of films do you look for?

LAURIE: I am very open to many genres of animation. I love the artistic expression of it and strongly connect to free form styles. Of course, the big leagues studios and major productions are always coming up. I try to keep an open mind and find it very difficult to program because of the abundance of talent out there.

 

What were some of the highlights of this year's Animation Day?

LAURIE: Well the highlights were simply all the great talent that gathered. From so many areas of film it seems there are secret animation buffs coming out of the wood work. This year I think the level of talent and producers was really strong. I hold animators in high regard so all of them, including the producers, were all highlights at this year's Animation Day in Cannes.

 

You have started to travel to international festivals to speak about your work with animation festivals. What do you see for the future of animation specific festivals?

LAURIE: I have been traveling to festivals for many years now since my own animation film with Ryan Larkin called 'Spare Change' (2008) and documentary film came out in 2011. I began my festival initiative as a filmmkaer and still attend festivals with that hat on. Animation specific festivals are nothing new under the sun but as a niche have enjoyed consistent growth.

 

Do you think animation is only at the beginning of its potential with VR and the digital age upon us?

LAURIE: Animation as a genre suits VR very well but may not serve it in any broader terms. VR is in its infancy and has some major pitfalls as a form of entertainment. First, one being that it cannot be viewed for very long as it has side effects, many still under researched. It is as dangerous potentially as it is promising. As far as animation goes, it's fantastic because animation lends itself visually to all the storytelling possibilities and with what VR can offer to a viewer is a limitless smorgasbord of visual fantasy. 

 

What will you be working on in the coming year?

In the coming year I would like to put two documentaries on the editing table. One which is almost all shot is 'The Flying Animator', as I mentioned. The other is 'I Spy My Father' about my father whom I didn't know a mystery which takes us from Budapest to Montreal to the Congo. I'll be looking for co-pro parners on that internationally. Both docs have animation in them but are not per se animation films. And of course MIAFF 2018, which is a huge baby that needs constant feeding and diaper changing! whaaaaaah!

 

How was your experience at this year's AFM?

AFM was great to attend and seek out another group of creators and animation enthusiasts. Again as in Animation Day in Cannes there is a somewhat « lost collective » or « lost tribe « of filmmakers seeking a home shall we say. As with Animation Day in Cannes, which is Co-produced by film festivals.com and the Montreal international animation filmfestivals.com, we are a strong and dedicated team who’s initiative celebrates animation and its creators in Cannes and around the world. With a great team nothing is impossible and anything can happen. We had an amazing response and we will continue to forge this path in Cannes and around the world. See you in 2018!

 

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Interview by Vanessa McMahon.

 

 

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