The Runaway Success of 'Ryan'
Animated film producer Marcy Page (M.A., '84) walked the red carpet between Leonardo DiCaprio and Hillary Swank at this year's Oscars. Then, along with her fellow co-producers, cheered wildly when their film "Ryan" received the Oscar for best animated short film.
"It was quite a thrill," says Page, who has worked at the National Film Board of Canada since 1990 as a director and producer of animated films, including the Academy Award-nominated "My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts." But "Ryan," a film that walks a line between documentary and animation, has been "a runaway train," Page says.
The 13-minute film profiles Ryan Larkin, one of the pioneers of Canadian animation, who 30 years ago was nominated for an Oscar himself. He now begs for spare change on the streets of Montreal. How did he get there? The film offers commentary from Larkin himself, prominent animators and artists who once worked alongside him, and the waitresses, mission-house caretakers and homeless people who occupy his present life.
In the animated world of "Ryan," these voices speak through strange, twisted, broken and disembodied 3-D generated characters. Ryan's animated character, for one, is literally not all there. In the film, the view from the back of his head reveals the process of decay taking place within his brain, a metaphorical depiction of his state of decline.
Page's interest in animation started at Sonoma State, where she learned to combine her artistic talents with film. At SFSU she continued her work in animation by developing her own interdisciplinary major, receiving encouragement and support from former instructors Fred Burns, John Fell and John Teton. During the early years of her career, Page taught animation at SFSU and the California College of the Arts while working as a freelance animator in the Bay Area.
Assistant Professor Martha Gorzycki, the cinema department's animation coordinator, says that Page's commitment to producing independent films that use innovative styles of animation and creative storytelling "is a tremendous gift to the international community of animators." "Ryan," she says, "is not only a new experiment in documentary filmmaking, it also paves the way for furthering imaginative uses of the relatively young world of 3-D computer animation."
Most of the distribution of "Ryan" has been done in Canada through the educational market, festivals, and DVD sales, which have been particularly successful. While an animated short typically sells around 500 copies, "Ryan" has sold more than 4,000. The DVD will be available for sale in the United States in August. The film will premiere on the Sundance
-- Tracie White
For more information: www.nfb.ca