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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By The Rapids: First Nation Animation

Yesterday I visited Big Soul Productions, a First Nations owned live action and animation production facility located in downtown Toronto.
(First Nations is the Canadian equivalent of "Native American")

My friend Jean Pilotte is animation supervisor of an animated series called BY THE RAPIDS. The show was created and written by Joseph Tekaroniake Lazare, who also directs the show. Lazare based the town of "By the Rapids" on his hometown of Kahnawake, Quebec, and the characters on people who lived there. The main character, Cory Littlehorn, is a modern teenager whose parents are successful lawyers. The Littlehorn family return to the parents' community in By The Rapids to live, and each episode deals with...well, highly unexpected things. I won't describe the plot of the episode Jean showed us here, but the writing was really outstanding and nothing about the program's plot was predictable. The gags were funny, if sometimes highly unconventional (all right, I'll tell you about one of them: all the dogs in the town smoke cigarettes.) The show is highly original and entertaining. The animation is limited but the characters still worked.
The show is produced in English and Mohawk languages and airs on APTN , the Aboriginal People's Television Network. This network covers all of Canada but I am not sure whether it reaches the USA.
Perhaps some American network would air this interesting show.
Big Soul Productions is located in a wonderful arts building just off Spadina Street in Toronto. I amused myself by looking at the bookstore (where I didn't buy anything) and the musical 'museum' store (where I bought a small rattle that reminded me a little bit of a cartoon mouse.) Afterward, a friend took me to a well known Polish/Eastern European supermarket where I amused myself by recognizing the Frosch (frog) brand cleaners that I used to use in Germany.

So I'd call this a nice, multicultural day out!
Oh, and we had a nice Sheridan senior student with us on the tour. I thought that since Bernice's film involved Raven and the Moon (a Northwest Coast legend) she might be interested in hearing about By the Rapids. Not only was the young lady overjoyed to be there, she obviously made an impression on some of the staffers, and a copy of her film will be shown to the producers when they return from a trip to New York.

Perhaps BY THE RAPIDS will air on PBS. That would be nice.


JPilot said...

Wow, thank you Nancy. Just a note: my title is animation supervisor on the series. I'd like to mention that no work is being outsourced, it's all done in house and also with freelancers. We are using Toon Boom Digital Pro and Storyboard Pro.
Again it was great to see you, Bruno and Bernice and thanks for the shout out! You can't buy P.R. like this!

Wood Mouse said...

I dare not go into bookshops at the moment, as I keep on wanting to buy half the stock, it’s the only draw back to living in a village. The production sounds fascinating, I wish that we had a channel that would air programming from other cultures and prospectives here.

Nancy said...

Thank you, Jean and Wood Mouse...I'd love to see both the shows you work on on worldwide TV! Jean, I've made the corrections you recommended, and it's nice to know that this show is 100% Canadian content!