Entertainment

Film and art festival aims to animate the arts

Felt artist Nancy Wesley with some of her felt work which includes whale mobiles, bunny rabbit and owl stuffies, and felt canvasses. Two of her dolls have transpired into characters for a children’s show idea thanks to local film producer Luke Carroll. - Ashley Degraaf
Felt artist Nancy Wesley with some of her felt work which includes whale mobiles, bunny rabbit and owl stuffies, and felt canvasses. Two of her dolls have transpired into characters for a children’s show idea thanks to local film producer Luke Carroll.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Opportunities to link art forms are endless, exciting and challenging for Luke Carroll.

A great example that occurred recently includes the former Hollywood producer hooking up with a local felt artist to create characters in a kids show he’s pitching to a Vancouver studio.

“That’s a great example of a local artist who makes the most amazingly beautiful stuff,” said Carroll, who lives in Cowichan Station, of Maple Bay artist Nancy Wesley. “I asked Nancy to create two characters from felt, which she did and did such a beautiful job.”

A similar connection and opportunity may arise during the 10th Cowichan Aboriginal Festival of Film and Art, kicking off April 22.

Carroll is leading a Animation Pitching Workshop sponsored by Cowichan Economic Development and Film Cowichan during the festival April 25. And he’s hoping to make more local connections with art forms and animation.

“There are a lot of artists in the valley, but it’s a very small animation community,” Carroll said. “But that’s the point. We’re looking at what could something become in the world of animation. I’m not looking for an animator and something that’s already animated. We’re looking for a link between what they do and the world of animation.”

Cowichan artists are being challenged to take their concepts outside any preconceived box and register for a workshop that could expand their creative talents into animation.

The workshop will give 18 artists a 20-minute chance to present their art and pitch their work and ideas. Those selected will work with Carroll and Film Cowichan over the year to develop their concept and characters into animated products.

Better yet, these projects will be taken to North American broadcasters for production funding.

“This is really an important workshop for local artisans, if they think their art could have some connection, or even if they don’t know what that connection is at all,” Carroll said.

Wesley didn’t imagine her soft and fuzzy creations would transpire into characters on TV.

“It’s so amazing to me, that one day I might get to see my dolls as characters on a kid’s show,” she said.

Carroll came across Wesley’s felt nature table at the entrance of Sunrise Waldorf school.

“In Luke’s head he had all the dialogue already flowing. He wanted (the characters) to look soft, natural, organic...with that felt look, and so I was hired as a doll maker. Normally an artist does a sketch, sends it to the modellers who then send it to the animators,” she explained. “We skipped over the sketching part, and he described the characters and I created the dolls, and now they’ve been sent to the animators.”

Wesley is also a photographer and graphic designer, but felt work has recently become her top passion.

“I use the same wool the Cowichan knitters use, from New Zealand and I dye it myself,” she said.

Carroll’s animation workshop takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 25 at the Island Savings Centre Green Room.

Register online here, or by calling 250-746-7930.

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