Colin Lepper and Tyler Novo only recently walked across the stage at Sheridan’s convocation to collect their Bachelor of Animation degrees. Both grads found work directly out of school and have had productive summers getting their careers in animation off the ground. These friends and former classmates now work on different sides of the border, but their short films recently converged on screen at the Shorts That Are Not Pants festival at Carlton Cinemas in Toronto. Their short films, produced in their final year at Sheridan, have helped launch them into the industry.
“I purposely made the character and his environment abstract because I want the audience to create their own interpretations” – Colin Lepper
Lepper was one of five stop-motion animation students in his year at Sheridan. “I got into stop-motion because I get to be hands on and I really like the amount of detail you can get into without relying on computers,” he said. His film, Never Stop Cycling, features a character, stuck in his ways, who must venture out of the safety of his home into a mysterious outside world. “I purposely made the character and his environment abstract because I want the audience to create their own interpretations,” he said. “It has been entertaining reading comments online about the film because it gives me a new perspective on my own work.”
Never Stop Cycling earned Lepper recognition at Sheridan’s Animation Industry Day. Although there weren’t any stop-motion animation studios in attendance, he received a lot of positive feedback and took home an award from Shaw Media. One attendee from JibJab, a digital media company in California, was so impressed by his skills that he hired Lepper to work on two stop-motion animated cards. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for animators to work in stop-motion so I feel very fortunate,” he said.
In addition to screening at Shorts That Are Not Pants, Lepper’s film was shown at both the Long Day Short Film Festival and the Trenton Film Festival, receiving the award for Best Animation at each event. His film is a finalist in the Anima Multi online animation competition hosted by a festival in Brazil and will also be featured as part of the Canadian Student Showcase at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.
Novo’s short film Mean Teddies tells the story of a child’s stuffed animals coming to life to defend their master. At Animation Industry Day Mean Teddies won Best Art Direction from Nelvana, an internationally renowned children’s animation production and distribution company. “It was fun to create a short that I would have loved to watch myself as a kid,” said Novo. “I’ve learned the importance of having a strong story. Good animation is icing on the cake.” The honour from Nelvana extended to a job offer; he has been working at the company’s Corus Quay location in Toronto since May.
“I’ve learned the importance of having a strong story. Good animation is icing on the cake” – Tyler Novo
At the Shorts That Are Not Pants screening in July, Novo’s film tied for the Audience Award. He attended the screening and had the opportunity to do a Q&A with the audience. “I enjoy chatting with people about creating my film. The positive response has been very encouraging,” said Novo. His short has also screened at the West Florida Film Festival, Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA) in Atlanta, and will be screening in September at Filmstock, a short film festival in New Mexico. In July, he was named as a semifinalist for a 2014 Adobe Design Achievement Award.
Reflecting on their time at Sheridan, both Lepper and Novo agree the process of creating their thesis films required a lot of dedication and some sleepless nights. “I show people my two minute film and say, “Yup, that took me eight months to make,” said Novo. “It’s a very long process but what you get out of it is equal to what you put in,” said Lepper. They both acknowledge the support from their faculty mentors, feedback from their peers, and the resources available at Sheridan as invaluable to their success.
Lepper and Novo continue to submit their short films to festivals in hopes of garnering exposure while pursuing other creative avenues for their talents. Novo is interested in pitching the concept of Mean Teddies as a TV series or as a comic book. Lepper has recently connected with a band to discuss collaborating on a stop-motion animated music video. Both of these grads have bright futures ahead of them.
Pictured at top of page: Screen shot from Colin Lepper’s short film
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.