Jonathan Ng

Animation / Art / Design

Update and the Starting of a New Year

Jan 19

My short film Requiem for Romance, made it all the way to the Shortlist for the Academy Awards. This week the nominations were announced and unfortunately for my film, it did not advance. Congratulations to the 5 films that got nominated, Feral, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Get a Horse, and Room on the Broom. I also want to make mention of the 3 NFB films that were also on the shortlist Gloria Victoria by the amazingly prolific Theodore Ushev, Subconscious Password by Academy Award winner Chris Landreth, and Hollow Land directed by Michelle Kranot & Uri Kranot, with The Missing Scarf rounding out the list. It was an honour to be in your company! The whole process was a whirlwind of excitement, with interviews, contract negotiations for theatrical release, and travel plans, and similar to a lottery ticket (the best lottery ticket ever!), it gave me the ability to allow myself to just imagine how far the film could go.

During the shortlist stage, I had a job interview for a short term storyboard contract in Montreal to work on the animated feature film, The Little Prince, based on the famous children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Littleprince

The film’s director is Mark Osborne, the director of Kung Fu Panda. During the interview, I showed my film, and he already knew it had been shortlisted which was probably a big plus in me getting hired. He was really taken by my film and he’d been through that whole process before and he was really excited for me. My time on The Little Prince has been super fun and engaging. Mark is a really great director and I think the film is going to be a huge success. It’s also been nice to take a break from my independent work and get in at a studio on a big crew.

One of my favourite films from the past year, Ernest et Célestine, was recently nominated for an Academy Award in the Feature Animation category.

The animation team from Ernest et Célestine will be the head studio in France working with our studio in Montreal on the Jacques Tardi film Un Monde Truqué, which starts in March, immediately after my contract on The Little Prince ends. I am really excited about this project, as it looks like a cross between Tintin and Steamboy, with a great story, and I feel that the level of animation is so incredibly high, that I will grow even more from it.

The week prior to the Academy Award nomination announcements, some unrelated good news dropped for me as far as my personal work. My collaboration with Kid Koala, and Hollolabs got major funding from the CMF for the development stage of a Floor Kids mobile game. Pretty much my dream come true!

FloorKidsLineUp_Low

Not to mention that I signed the writer’s agreement with my executive producer for my full-length animated film Legend of Cloud and Phoenix. The story is ironing itself out as the co-writer and I continue to reshape the story’s structure. I’m slowly starting to storyboard key sequences for it as well.

2013 was a great year to sail the world with my film, visiting Hong Kong, Beijing, Dresden, Berlin, Stuttgart, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, picking up awards in Brazil and San Jose. It made a splash on the internet with features on io9, Reddit, No Film School, Short of the Week and Vimeo Staff Picks and it finished off with a shortlisting for the Oscars, an honour I did not expect.

2014 has now officially begun, back on Earth, and it will be yet another colossal year of epic production!

15th Animation Show of Shows

Sep 12

Thanks to everyone who made the online life of Requiem For Romance an amazing success so far! As of right now, the links to Requiem For Romance will be suspended for a couple months, and will be back online around December.

I just got news last night that my film has been selected by Ron Diamond for his 15th Animation Show of Shows, which is a showcase that presents the best animated films from the animation festival circuit each year to the major studios in California, such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, ILM and tech companies such as Apple.

This is a huge opportunity for my film and for me personally, as I will get to fly down and attend the screenings at each studio in person. As a condition for being included in the Animation Show of Shows, I have agreed to suspend all online links to my film for a temporary period of time, ending sometime in early to mid December. During this time, the trailers will still be available to watch across all of my platforms, and the DVDs will still be available on the website for a discounted price. Thanks for your understanding!

AnimationShowOfShows_V02

Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

Apr 29

I left Berlin Wednesday morning on the train to attend the 20th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, or the Internationales Trickfilm Festival Stuttgart, as it is also known. Stuttgart was very different from the rest of the cities in Germany. When I arrived it was much hotter weather, and you could tell that the city is the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. It’s definitely a made for cars type of city.

After checking into the hotel, I figured out where everything was and then caught some of the International Competition screenings. Afterwards I met up with the festival veteran Nancy Phelps who I haven’t seen in about 5 years. Last time we ran into each other at a festival was in Zagreb, Croatia at the Animafest where my film Asthma Tech was selected.

I met David Silverman of The Simpsons fame. He was on one of the juries of the festival and was playing the tuba at every festival social gathering. He also hosted a Simpsons retrospective talk where he showed really early stuff, hilarious clips over the 20 something seasons, and some never before seen bonus material :) He told stories of how Lisa came to play the saxophone and he and Nik Phelps played musical interludes whenever he was reminded of a song. Super nice guy, down to earth, he did a homer sketch for anyone who asked.

I actually did some on-demand, sketch drawings of my own. Lots of people were requesting drawings from different animators for their sketchbooks. Here’s one I was happy to do for a local German software developer and animation fan, named Sven.

I had a really packed audience in the large Gloria theatre for my first screening. The DCP looked great. The audience had a great reaction as well. But, the screenings in the Metropol cinema 1 had problems with all of the DCPs. An unknown technical problem, something related to the server connecting to the projector. My film experienced some blinking throughout, although it only happened 5 times. Other films were essentially ruined by it. A fellow filmmaker and friend Paw, from Denmark, had his 20 minute film stopped midway through because of the blinking problem becoming so unwatchable. I was having a beer with the organizer of Zagreb’s animation festival later on, and he said that “this DCP thing will kill us all” and then we had some more beers and forgot all about it.

In the foyer of the Metropol, I sold a few of my limited prints after my screening, but everyone was flocking to Bill Plympton’s booth next to me. Oh well, I took the opportunity to get his signature as well.

Also met Ron Diamond, co-founder of AWN and he expressed to me that he really liked my film, not just one of his favourites in the category but in the whole festival. I was really flattered and he will consider it for his Animation Show of Shows. Hopefully I’ll touch base with him when I am in LA next week.

There was also an animation professor from the Netherlands who I did a sketch for on the night that I arrived. He managed to come to my screening and was really impressed with the film. He bought a DVD and promised to show it to his class in the coming weeks.

Attended a special talk held by a German art museum curator, named Stefan Riekeles, who has been researching the backgrounds, layouts, architecture and urbanism in Japanese animation. It was a really great talk because he had done so much thorough research, he was able to reveal lots of interesting details and some lost secrets as to how backgrounds and layouts were produced during the golden age of Japanese anime. He focused a lot on Mamoru Oshii’s legendary work Ghost in the Shell. Stefan also published all of the images in an academic book. I was able to trade him my DVD and a print for a copy!

Some beautiful paintings by Ogura Hiromasa.

He talked about how they researched locations for Ghost in the Shell in Hong Kong, and how the camera was cold from an air conditioned interior and below you can see how the cold camera mixed with Hong Kong’s incredible humidity created some amazing, glowing lens flare reference.

After catching more film screenings, and festival parties, I decided to check out the Mercedes-Benz museum on the last day in Stuttgart.

This entrance elevator is so sci-fi.

Meanwhile, back at the festival, I attended the closing ceremonies and I was happy to know that Ernest et Célestine, a film that I admire very much, won for best animated feature film.

Although I didn’t sell that many prints during my screenings, coincidentally, I shared a ride to the airport in the morning with some filmmakers from the Middle East. They were attending for an animation co-production forum, and one of them had seen my prints a couple days earlier, but he didn’t have the opportunity to buy at the time. I was away from my table when he had been checking out the prints and he was so happy to bump into me in the car to the airport. The two filmmakers both decided to buy several prints from me on the spot and I was super stoked on that. I was able to end the festival trip on a high note.

Now I’m back in Montreal for a few days, then it’s off to LA for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival!

Exploring Berlin

Apr 28

I left Filmfest Dresden on Sunday on the Bahn train. I booked an AirBnB in the central district of Mitte on the recommendation of my friend Emile Denichaud. It’s really central.

The apartment was great, the host gave me this awesome design & art book guide to the various districts of Berlin, categorizing the city into its fashion districts, art galleries, food, cafés and nightlife.

So I immediately started to explore the city. I checked out some historical sites like the Berlin Wall memorial on Bernauer Straße, and Check Point Charlie.

My apartment didn’t have wireless, so I spent quite a bit of time in the cafés trying to coordinate my trip details to Stuttgart and Los Angeles and look at online maps of Berlin. The subway system was one of the most complicated I have ever seen.

I met up with my friend Aonan’s girlfriend who is a pianist living and studying in Berlin. Originally from Taiwan, she has picked up German in just three months!

Finally on Wednesday morning, I took another train from Berlin to Stuttgart and I had some time on the train to relax and sketch some ideas for my upcoming feature film project.

More to come about my film festival experience in Stuttgart!

25th Filmfest Dresden

Apr 26

Last week I attended one of the coolest film festivals in Europe, the 25th Filmfest Dresden, flight paid courtesy of SODEC. My film Requiem for Romance was screened in a special presentation focusing on Quebec Animation that included Malcom Sutherland’s Umbra, Patrick Desilet’s Mulvar is Correct Candidate, Theodore Ushev’s Joda, and kino filmmaker Alexandre Roy’s Tigre. A nice detail, they made one of my the images into the screening’s post card.

The special program was curated by Ian Gailer, the organizer of Festival REGARD sur le court métrage au Saguenay. My film was selected for this great festival and was shown back in March, but I couldn’t attend because I was in Hong Kong at the time. Typical that we had to hop all the way over to Germany to meet and hang out.

I made a point to pick up a phrase of German each day. Germans were very apologetic for their “difficult grammatical language” but were also eager to teach me. 1) “Ich bin animation filmemacher.” – I am an animation filmmaker. 2) “Ich freue mich in Dresden zu sein.” – I am glad to be in Dresden. 3) “Ich hoffe Ihr möchte meinen film.” – I hope you like my film. I basically said this in the introduction at all of my screenings, at which point the audience applauded heartily and I bowed.

Filmfest Dresden is one of the most supportive festivals for short films in Europe, giving out a total of over 60,000 Euros in prize money. Although I wasn’t in competition this year, it was really great to see such support for the independent and short film community. The selections came from all over the world, and I met filmmakers from Ethiopia, Georgia, Belgium, UK, Greece and from all over Germany.

I found people in Dresden to be super friendly. It was interesting to see that beer on the street is not frowned upon. And young people congregating outside in the middle of downtown at night drinking beer peacefully with no law enforcement presence was somewhat refreshing. The best thing about it was that beer is freely allowed in the cinema and just when it seems like people are walking out of the theatre between films, and you’re thinking, “Damn, people are leaving,” nope, they are just coming back in with more beers. “Prost!”

I went into the “alt stadt”, the old city, which was fire-bombed out of existence and rebuilt to look as it was in the past.

I ate at the Canadian Steakhouse, haha, because I was curious what would be the German interpretation of Canadian food. Actually, it was pretty deluxe Canadian food, in that they had buffalo and moose meat and Vidal ice wine.

I actually met quite a few people from Canada, attending festival screenings but not related to filmmaking. Most of them were scientific researchers, as Dresden is an engineering and science hotspot, so the international community is comprised mostly of scientists. I also randomly ran into a guy from Montreal at a local food spot in Neustadt (new city), he works in the marketing department for a semi-conductors company. Such a crazy coincidence that we were both from Montreal, that I invited him to the my screening and he bought a couple of my prints.

This blog is part of a collection of blogs that can be found on Film Annex. Please leave your comments and share.

Beijing Coproduction Meetings

Apr 23

As I prepare to leave Berlin to go to Stuttgart by train, here is an update on two important meetings we had with potential co-production partners in Beijing.

Galloping Horse

Galloping Horse is a company that I’ve had my eye on since my short film was selected in the Whistler Film Festival late last year. During the Whistler Film Festival, Galloping Horse was one of two companies that was holding a screenwriting contest called the China-Canada Gateway for Film Screenwriting competition. It was a competition that was selecting 12 Canadian scripts as finalists to pitch in front of live-audiences for the chance to gain access to a $5 M budget and co-production opportunity between Canada and China. Unfortunately, my script was not selected as one of the 12 finalists (not surprising since it was too early in development and I had not yet secured Roger Frappier’s participation).

Nevertheless, when we met with Galloping Horse’s project manager Yi-Tong, he had heard of my short film, because it won best short film in Whistler. And he also commented that he had wished he had seen my film in the 12 finalists, because the project really stood out to him. They said that the trailer for my short film was beautiful, and seemed quite intrigued with the artistic nature of the project. The meeting was arranged by my co-writer Kai Yin, and as a result, we managed to get an hour and a half of Galloping Horse’s time. Quite a step up from a five minute pitch in Whistler.

Their office is located in an immense, metroplex-style building in Beijing. We met in their board room office where they served us hot water. Yi Tong spoke very good English after having lived in the New York for many years. He spoke a little bit about the history of Galloping Horse. They started in ads, moved to TV, moved into film and made a huge move in their take-over/merger with Digital Domain.

Our discussion of animated films involved breaking down narrative structure and techniques of such films as the Illusionist. Triplets de Belleville, Princess Monoke, big Hollywood brand-name studios like Pixar and Dreamworks as well as internally produced Chinese features like Xi Yang Yang. He mentioned that having a Chinese co-writer from Beijing was definitely a positive for our project, and also mentioned the potential importance of referencing Jin Yong, the famed martial arts novelist, which is something we have been striving for.

We ended the meeting by taking a tour of their relatively small but talented 3D animation studio.

Cashflower

Cashflower is a much smaller company than Galloping Horse, but they have a great reputation for taking smaller, independent films and due to their extremely smart marketing strategies, making a lot of money for the films. This meeting was also arranged by my co-writer Kai Yin as he is very close to the girl who does the script evaluating for the company. The meeting with Cashflower was quite special, because instead of a formal business setting, the meeting to place in a homely apartment setting, and they served us tea, constantly. My tea cup was never empty. And the table was a special tea table that they could pour liquid into without it spilling. They didn’t speak much English, so Yin had to translate, but said that the tea house theme was there to promote a friendly atmosphere.

It turns out that Cashflower also has close connections with investors and important players in private equity film financing. The boss of Cashflower expressed his deep personal admiration for my project, and yet expressed some concern over the marketability of such an artistically driven project in the Chinese market. However, he lived up to his company’s reputation for being brilliant marketers, because he quickly came up with some great suggestions as to how to market such a film. He proposed incorporating a stronger link to the Chinese water ink animations of the 50′s & 60′s, establishing a sort of nostalgia, reminding older generations of those films, and to allow them to reminisce and bring their children to see the film as a way of educating them about that time period.

I also proposed an idea of trying to work very closely with an already established martial arts choreographer who would be more used to working in live-action. In this way, our project could market the film as the choreographer’s first piece in animation. Everyone from Cashflower sort of sat back and imagined for a moment and thought that this was a very good idea. As it turns out, they are also quite close to Yuen Woo-Ping the famous Hong Kong martial arts choreographer who gained fame in North American when he choreographed for American blockbusters such as the Matrix and Kill Bill.

I finished off my trip in Beijing by exploring the Forbidden City and taking location pictures.

Day 2 & 3 at HK Filmart

Apr 22

I’m currently touring through Germany and have lots to tell about the trip. But here’s the rest of what happened in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Film Development Fund

On day 2, we met with Wellington Fung head of the Hong Kong Film Development Fund to see if there was any way for a Canadian production to access this fund in partnership with a Hong Kong co-producer. In our case, this fund will not work, since it has a low budget cap and is really only designed to support local Hong Kong based production companies. However, Wellington was very impressed with our project and encouraged us to aim for private investors in Hong Kong. He explained that the low taxation in Hong Kong doesn’t allow for very much public funds for the film industry. He suggested that it was better to look for private equity film financing avenues. We took the opportunity to also request ways to contact A-list Hong Kong actors for potential voice work on the Chinese language version.

He referred us to the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association rep, Brian Chung. Through Brian we were able to get the official contact information for Andy Lau and Donnie Yen. Andy Lau has been known in the past to invest in and support independent films. And obviously Donnie Yen’s martial arts street cred is through the roof.

From Book to Screen

We attended a morning panel on adapting novels for film. The panel consisted of mostly novelists who spoke of their experiences having their books adapted for the big screen. Here are a few great quotes from the talk:

“Think of the Screenplay as a 92-pound weakling. Think of the Studio as an entire football team, and they just keep pounding and pounding against the Screenplay. They just keep pounding him into the ground and beating him up
and if the screenplay can even sort of remotely look like what it was before it started the fight, they’ll say ‘hey look! It’s tough.’ – Michael Tolkin

In reference to a comment about how hard the production process was for Life of Pi, and how there were several different directors that were kicked off the project before Ang Lee, and the marketing challenges of having an unknown Indian boy playing the lead role, Michael Tolkin said: “Every single movie, is a movie that, at some point, NOBODY wanted to make.”

Indian filmmaker Chetan Bhagat likened filmmakers to painters with very, very expensive brushes and canvases. “Even if you are the most talented painter in the world, if you have really expensive brushes… Your painting has to at least recover the cost of the brush or else nobody’s going to let you paint anymore.”

Powerful Producers

We met with an influential American producer with a lot of experience in the film and entertainment industry within the Chinese market, Peter Loehr, (Spicy Love Soup, The Karate Kid, 2009) who gave us an rundown of who to meet, and how to figure out who to trust. It turns out that Chinese co-producers are starting to look for equity in global distribution revenues as opposed to just going for the rights to their domestic revenues.

We also met with an experienced Chinese producer, named Julia (I’ll only give her first name here), who had worked for Jet Li and Michelle Yeow. She gave us some specific numbers to think about for successful distribution in China. The initial investment must triple in box office profits in order to make it worth it because theatrical, distribution, and investment each take one third of the profits.

Here’s a link to the Canadian Pavillion at the Hong Kong Filmart, and check out some of my other blogs on Film Annex.

First Day at HK Filmart

Mar 18

Journey to the Filmart

It was a fairly brutal 15 hour flight to get to Hong Kong. I watched plenty of films: The Secret of Nimh, Argo, Fargo. Wreck it Ralph. Anti-Viral, Defendor. I was stranded in the middle seat the whole time and was so happy to be standing and walking around when the flight was over.

Anne Pagès and I grabbed some dinner with a French colleague and his Cantonese wife. Conversation was a bit of a mish-mash between French, English and Canto speak. Somewhat along those lines of mish-mash, we ate at a restaurant called Aqua on the 29th floor overlooking the Hong Kong harbor. The restaurant served both high italian cuisine and authentic Japanese sushi. I was doubtful, but it surpassed my expectations.

First day at the Filmart

We started off the day at the Filmart with an orientation put on by the people from Canadian pavilion, specifically, the BC Film Fund, introducing the economic specs of Hong Kong.

They had a guest speaker, a veteran Hong Kong film producer, who I won’t name, but who spoke at length about Chinese co-production challenges. He also fielded specific questions from Canadian delegates. I asked a couple questions. But as it wound down, I raised my hand again and asked him straight up for a one on one meeting to talk about my project. He kind of squirmed, clearly, he was trying not to refuse me publicly, in front of all those other people, because that would have been embarrassing, but at the same time he was trying to give himself a way out. After the talk wrapped up, I managed to get his card, and apparently people were giving me props after I did that. Telling me I had balls. I just figured I’d ask him since he was there, but I guess he was a bigger shot than I realized, he’s apparently very influential. Shrugs!

The rest of the day involved running around, locating booths and appointments. We had a bunch of meetings and conversations with various animation studios. One thing I learned from Cannes, is that you can’t do it alone. It was really cool to see how me, Anne and Yin approached the meetings as a team. We had a good approach, with one person taking the lead, and then another picking up the slack and backing each other up.

A Taiwanese Studio

The best meeting turned out to be with a company from Taiwan. The guy looked fairly young, but he was a serious investor. He didn’t own an animation studio, but he was committed to investing in animated film projects. He had two recent feature films to show us and he invested 1 million US dollars in each project. The other good thing was that he had already looked up my short film’s trailer and expressed some interest in the look.

He asked us our budget. We told him. He didn’t say anything, but we could tell it was higher than his usual.

He explained his reasoning for investing in animation, and animation only. He revealed himself to be both a passionate fan of animation, and also a cunning business man. One of the biggest challenges to animation in China, is the reality of the Chinese audience’s attitude towards animation. He openly admitted to us that Persepolis was in his opinion the greatest animated film ever with its black and white style.

But in China and Taiwan people rejected it for the unusual style. They weren’t used to it. They seem to insist on either only American or Japanese style animations.

With so much risk in animation, his solution is to be selective and make money through merchandising and cross-marketing. He invests in animated film projects because of their merchandising potential. For his children’s animation, he merchandised in the way of toys. For his young adult romance animation, he said toys did not make sense, so he merchandised it in the form of publishing a novel with the same story. He said he made way more money off of the toys and the novels than he ever did on the animation. His point being, that animation is incredibly hard to make money off of on its own and that he viewed his feature films as 90 minute commercials for the products.

Appreciative of his honesty, we asked him how he would foresee merchandising on our film, for example and if he would be open to investing 1 million US in a project with a larger budget.

He said that he was having a hard time seeing how our film would be merchandised, because the examples (the trailer, the posters) were so artful. He admitted sadly that the Chinese market was not really into art at all, and much more into commercialism. And that they’ve been taught to appreciate commercialism for so long, that they don’t know anything else. We found this as a recurring theme through many of the meetings, in that the producer would find our work very special, but that they didn’t necessarily have faith in their target markets as having the same interest.

But he stated that he would be open to investing in a project with a larger budget like ours, if he could identify an appropriate way to merchandise, and if he could obtain the exclusive merchandising rights to the film’s IP in the territories of Taiwan and China. We all agreed that this was totally possible.

In spite of all his hesitations and qualifying, he closed the meeting by saying that he really liked my work. So we’ll take it as an opening for a possibility in the future.

HK Filmart and China Update

Mar 15

HONG KONG FILMART

It’s been a hectic couple weeks as I’ve been preparing like a maniac for the Hong Kong Filmart. I’ve been an email warrior sending out requests for appointments and meetings and preparing as much pre-development material as possible. Just got my new one-sheet posters for the feature pitch and the short film printed.

My co-writer Yin Kai has been working on the Chinese proposal while in Beijing. One thing that I’ve learned so far in preparation for a Chinese market proposal is that after the initial logline of the story and a few visual style examples, the most important information in the early stage is the financial investment information. And it’s more than just knowing the overall budget. They want to know the proposed percentage of participation. The market share split of domestic and foreign markets, estimated revenues and recoupment plan. Another big focus is on the crew. Who is the director? Who is the producer? What is the track record of the production company? Awards. Prizes. Prestigious film festival selections have a lot of sway. Once this information is established, more visuals examples are required. Story details are generally withheld and come at the very end.

BEIJING

So far we have heard some positive feedback about our project, according to Yin. We have a couple really big meetings scheduled for Beijing. A mid-sized company called Cashflower is interested in meeting us and there is also the possibly of meeting with Galloping Horse, the company that bought Digital Domain after it went into bankruptcy. Other companies possibly in the mix are Wanda and Chinese Shadows. I’ve got my fingers crossed for some fruitful discussions.

SHANGHAI

After Beijing, I’ll be coming home but animation producer Anne Pagès (Triplets de Belleville, Le Jour des Corneilles) will be continuing onto Shanghai to possibly meet with the famous Shanghai Animation Film Studio.

Still lots of work ahead… I’m almost burnt out and I haven’t even left for the trip yet, but it’s going to be an adventure.

http://www.filmannex.com/blog-posts/JonathanNg

“Seth” – NFB Animated Documentary

Mar 14

As I push ahead on my feature film project, I’m also doing a bit of freelance animation at the National Film Board of Canada on a super fun, super awesome, feature length animated documentary about a Canadian comic book artist named Seth.

The film, titled “Seth”, is a project conceived by NFB animation filmmaker and former Dreamworks animation supervisor Luc Chamberland. It has been said, that he is like the Canadian equivalent to one of Disney’s the “9 Old Men”. If you’ve been around at any of the major animation festivals such as the Ottawa International Animation Festival or Fantasia in Montreal, you’ve probably heard his signature “AH….. HA. HA. HAAAAA” laugh. He’s an absolute pleasure to work for because he always takes the time to say thank you for any scene that you’re working on.

For the animation on the film, we are staying very faithful to Seth’s visual style, maintaining the thick and think lines from his comic strips. The thick and think lines in animation is something of a rarity, as it makes it much more difficult to maintain line consistency from frame to frame. But this is what makes the project fun and challenging. Beyond this, I don’t want to say too much about the film, since it is currently in production. Instead I’ll just talk a bit about the crew.

The animation crew includes talents like Jo Meuris (director of The Girl Who Hated Books, clean up artist on Le Jour des Corneilles). Jo is responsible for fixing basically, anything and everything. Computer problems, software issues, and she is an incredibly thorough animator and clean up artist. Also on the project is Sean Branigan (supervisor on Ugly Americans, animator on Le Jour des Corneilles) and a handful of student interns from animation schools in France. It’s a real pleasure to be surrounded by the familiar faces at the National Film Board of Canada again.

New Poster – Requiem for Romance

Mar 9

Introducing the beautiful new poster for my short film Requiem for Romance, created by designer and concept artist extraordinaire, Robin Joseph. He sent me this on Thursday as a pleasant surprise, I didn’t even ask him to do for this! I’m honoured that he’s taken a break from his busy schedule doing concept work for the big studios, and working on his own personal short film The Fox and the Whale, which, by the way, looks amazing so far.

I’m planning on repackaging the DVD with this image and getting all of the promo materials done before I leave for the Hong Kong Filmart next Saturday.

New Poster:

Original Poster:

Feature Film in Development

Mar 7

There is exciting news for my next upcoming film project!

My feature film proposal has received the backing of Roger Frappier, an award winning French-Canadian executive producer and owner of the film production company Max Films. Notable films that Roger Frappier has produced include Jesus of Montreal and The Decline of the American Empire, both directed by Denis Arcand and both nominated for an Oscar. Another one of his titles, La Grande Seduction is a French language comedy that was a box office hit in Quebec. They have just finished filming an English language remake called The Grand Seduction. 

Max Films was a co-production partner on the French animated film Le Jour des Corneilles, which I worked on as an animator.

I met Roger Frappier at a producer’s breakfast in Cannes, last May when I was attending the festival with my short film Requiem for Romance. He expressed his interest in animation and asked me to come see him when we were both back in Montreal.


(Tip Jar is now activated on my Vimeo videos!)

Upon our return to Montreal, he became swamped with several film shoots. We scheduled a meeting for October. This gave me 5 months to prepare my proposal. My project is a feature length martial arts animated film. The technique will be a continuation of the technique from Requiem for Romance.
I wrote and re-wrote the story treatment. My co-writer, Yin Kai, who recently sold a cyber punk feature film script to a director in China, was instrumental in helping to strengthen and reshape the story. I created preliminary character designs and tested out some animation. When we finally met, he liked the project and we had several more follow up meetings. We finally met again last Wednesday, and he gave me the news that he is taking my project into development through funding from Telefilm and SODEC.

In addition, Roger Frappier is sending me to the Hong Kong Filmart from March 18-21, too meet with potential co-production partners, film investors and animation professionals in Asia to explore international co-production opportunities. Anne Pages the producer on Le Jour des Corneilles and who was also on the management team of Triplets de Belleville will be accompanying me. My co-writer Yin Kai, who is in Beijing right now will also accompany us in Hong Kong.

The Making of Smoked

Feb 25

Smoked was my project for an animation assignment at Concordia University in the film animation program. The exercise was to create a short narrative piece depicting a “slice of life” situation, using the technique of South African animation artist William Kentridge. http://www.filmannex.com/webtv/jonathanng/movie/smoked/30570

William Kentridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kentridge pioneered his own technique of charcoal animation. He started off as a painter, but in order to work out his plans for his paintings he made charcoal rough drawings. He states that he worked so much on the pre-painting stages in charcoal that he ended up mastering charcoal and never really became a painter. It was through working with charcoal that he essentially invented a new technique in animation. A combination of hand-drawn charcoal artwork and stop motion photography. He would draw and re-draw the images of his film on the same piece of paper, usually watercolour paper, and he would capture each frame using a rigged lunchbox line tester hooked up to a camera. The final frame would be the finished charcoal drawing that he would exhibit.

He had an exhibit of his work in Montreal in 2005, this was when I was working at the NFB on my film Asthma Tech http://www.nfb.ca/film/asthma_tech prior to my studies at Concordia. A lot of the NFB filmmakers got together and went down to see his exhibit. It was. He had his films playing on a loop with the final charcoal drawing displayed next to the film.

This was the technique I used to create Smoked. The story came about as an idea I had when I was sketching during a hospital stay. I thought it might work as a really short clip, and it turned out that the story fit really well with the requirements for the Concordia project. As I photographed the animation, I found that charcoal dust really lent itself well to the smoking theme. Being an animation exercise, I did not consider this a final film for festival purposes, I decided instead to release it as an online film. This footage for this project was shot and animated in one day.

Live Portraits ETDWSS

Nov 18


Below are some live portraits that I sold at the ETDWS Show at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto, Nov 2th-4th. Thanks to Mikey Singer and Avery Levitt for hooking it up. All drawings were on 24×36 paper with soft chalk pastels. Portraits sold for anywhere between $40-$70 a pop.


Alex, one of the models in pin-up girl troupe.


Alex posing with the drawing.


Bethany was attending the convention with friends and decided to get a portrait.


Bethany posing with the drawing.


A set of three best friends forever, getting their portraits done one after the other. This girl’s name was Lynn.


Jennifer


Jennifer posing with the drawing.


Diane


Diane in a pose comparison.


The Pyschologist. This lady told me she that she was a practicing psychologist and that she watched me closely as I was drawing her. She said that I had a total sense of peacefulness mixed with pure enjoyment. Probably very true.


The incredible Mimi Cherry!


Mimi Cherry in a pose comparison.


I did a few sets of couples too…


This couple was about to get married that weekend.


This is the wife an artist at one of the other booths.


This was my last drawing of the weekend, I was having a lot of trouble getting the right features because she kept laughing at the stuff that was happening on the main screen. But I stuck with it and I ended up getting something nice. Her name is Shazia.


Shazia with the drawing.

http://toronto.everythingtodowithsex.com/attendees/eroticart.asp

Animasian Award in Toronto!

Nov 12

My film Requiem for Romance won the best animated film at the the closing ceremonies at the Toronto International Reel Asian Film Festival last night! The festival is one of North Americas largest film festivals highlighting the best from contemporary Asian cinema and films from the Asian diaspora. This festival has been supporting my work since as early as 2003 and over the years it’s been a great place to meet contacts in the filmmaking community and make lasting friendships. My film kicked off production by winning the So You Think You Can Pitch competition in late 2009, so it’s even more special to have won this prize, in front of family, friends, and colleagues. The award was presented to me by a long time friend and fellow animation filmmaker/writer/comic artist/stand up comedian Howie Shia who intro’d me as the “Amaze’Ng, Dash’Ng, Pop-Lock’Ng, Body-Rock’Ng, Jonathan Ng!” which has to be one of the best intros I’ve ever received, haha.


Pictured here with the rest of the winners at the festival. Congrats also to Jeff Tran and Louis Yeum who were honourable mentions for their animated film Traces of Joy.

http://reelasian.com/index.php/k2/item/281-2012-award-winners

My film played at the festival on Thursday Nov 8th in front of a feature film called Daylight Savings starring independent American singer songwriter Goh Nakamura. Both films explored themes of love and relationships, within the context of music, art, and communication through modern devices like cell phones, skype, email and ringtones.

http://twitchfilm.com/2012/03/sxsw-2012-review-daylight-savings.html


Pictured above with Goh Nakamura and Anderson Le during the Q&A of our screening.


Pictured here with Goh Nakamura and Lillian Chan along with the Reel Asian mascots.


With Nobu Adelman who was a jury member on the So You Think You Can Pitch competition in 2009.

Special thanks to Kingly, Holly and the Reel Asian volunteers who were able to help me sell my limited prints at the festival venues. The proceeds will be put towards the development of my upcoming animated feature film project, which is moving along nicely. More to come on that…

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