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Sunday Afternoon with Patrick
Canadian indie Patrick Doyon’s subtle short Dimanche (Sunday) is a testament to the simple pleasures of 2D animation and well-observed reflections of life.
If you need a perfect example of a charming animated short, which doesn’t rely on over-the-top CG tools or mind-numbing high concepts to tell a story, you have to check out Patrick Doyon’s acclaimed Dimanche/Sunday. The Canadian animator/illustrator’s 2D project, which has been a festival favorite since it debuted last year and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Annie Award, is the kind of short that inspires people to tell personal, lovingly crafted tales.
Described as a love letter to children’s imagination, the nine-minute-long short centers on an imaginative young boy who comes up with ways to beat boredom when he is left with his grandparents on a Sunday afternoon. During a brief visit to Los Angeles, Doyon spoke to us about his love for animation and how he came up with the idea for the short back in 2008. “It’s based on some of my own childhood memories, but although it’s somewhat autobiographical, many of the instances have been exaggerated and amplified, so that they become fictitious,” says the 32-year-old artist.
Sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Dimanche was first hand-drawn by Doyon on paper, then scanned into Photoshop and animated via Toon Boom’s Opus software.
“I have always loved to draw,” says the animator. “I studied classic design courses at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and loved to go to the Cinémathèque in Montreal to watch all the animation programs. Then I was fortunate enough to be accepted to attend the NFB’s Hothouse program.”
Dimanche marks Doyon’s first official, professional film, although he did make other student and experimental films during his tenure at the NFB.
“Working on a project for the NFB gives you the peace of mind to work on your short, because you receive a salary for the duration of the project,” he notes. “It is possible to make a living as an independent animator here in Canada. You don’t become rich doing this, but it is a privilege to be able to work on your personal projects because the government supports animation here.”
Inspired by European comic books and indie animators such as Paul Driessen (3 Misses, The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg) and Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby (When the Day Breaks), Doyon says he would love to alternate between illustration and animation.
“Right now, I am working on a graphic novel, but when I’m done with that project, I would like to start another animated short,” he notes.
His biggest challenge on Dimanche was keeping the cohesive quality of the film throughout the two-year production period.
“It’s important to maintain that unity throughout that period,” he explains. “Your emotions and energy constantly change during a long time like that. Another challenge was my drawing style—as I don’t completely close the lines in my work, so the lines don’t touch and that’s why the colorization process wasn’t easy and it prolonged the production period.”
What he loves about his work is that he gets to play God.
“I guess you can say I’m a control freak to some extent,” confesses Doyon. “In short-form animation, you create and direct everything, but in live action you have to delegate and deal with the actors. Another wonderful aspect of the job is that you are pleasantly surprised when the film is finally finished and people get to see it. You try to make the best film you possibly can, but it’s hard to predict how it will turn out in the end. It’s wonderful when people get something out of it or are touched by what you’ve created.”
Looking back at the advice and suggestions people have given him through the years, Doyon says a simple tip from a university professor has served him the best.
“He once told us that we should draw at least one hour each day, and I really took that to heart,” he says. “That’s really the minimum effort you should make to improve and progress. Draw from what you observe around you or draw from your imagination. You just need to keep drawing in order to be a better illustrator and animator.”