Profiles

THE ART OF THE MOVIE: A Q&A with Animation Fest juror Megan Turnbull

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Known for her animation work using paper sculptures, Turnbull turns her artistic eye to jury duty at this year’s Animation Fest. Photo by Jessica Deeks

In a world of 3-D CGI movies, stop-motion animation might seem obsolete. But Megan Turnbull has turned the art of moving little paper sculptures across handmade sets into a promising career. The Winnipeg native began her animation career with stop-motion collaborations at the 2010 Mini Maker Faire and Spins + Needles. This month she brings her artistic eye to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept. 18-22) as part of the six-member jury.

What’s it like to return to Ottawa as a judge for the Ottawa International Animation Festival?
I’m excited. I’ll see more films than ever before — because I have to.

How would you describe your time in Ottawa?
I really like this city. I have a hard time with people in Ottawa who are always so down on it. I’m actually working on a project right now called “Five Steps to Enjoying Ottawa.”

Your work includes both personal artistic projects and films for corporate clients. What’s it like straddling the two worlds?
Some artists might say they don’t respect you for working with clients — for selling out. Sometimes I feel I don’t belong anywhere — not in the art world or in advertising. But I’ve actually really enjoyed the corporate projects. It can be really fun to take a message and have fun with it through stop-motion animation.

You have a degree in landscape architecture. What made you change tack and get into animation?
I worked as a landscape architect in Hong Kong and Dubai. I got into the field because I wanted to do stuff for the public — I wanted to tell stories through space. But even public spaces are for the paying public: the project in Dubai was for a series of canals that had to be big enough for a 100-foot yacht. I decided that if I can’t influence the people who I feel would really benefit from these projects, I might as well tell the story some other way.

Your films have been screened across Canada and abroad. What screenings have meant the most to you?
Unlaced at Electric Fields in 2010 was a 3-D screening, so it was a real crash course for me. And it was really neat to see it screened in my community. Also, when the CBC bought my film Adventures of Problem Solving Superhero [in 20xx], it encouraged me to be more playful in my work.

You founded COmotion in 2010 as a collaborative stop-motion initiative. Since then it has been used in a variety of settings, from schools to art galleries and special events. What is it about stop-motion animation that works so well in a group setting?
It’s 24 frames a second, which means a lot of moving and clicking, and that’s more fun in a group.

You have had a lot of success with scholarships and grants — most recently with the SSHRC. Any tips?
Apply!