Transcript: Ellen Besen: Animator | Mar 30, 2000

(Lively music plays )
A fast clip shows young people and children engaged in all kinds of recreational activity, including artwork, putting on spacesuits, filming and simulating a commando raid. A young woman takes off a pilot's helmet and a caption reads “Woman's Work.”

A woman with dark brown shoulder-length hair and a fringe wearing glasses appears and talks to the camera. A caption reads “Ellen Besen, Animator.”

Ellen says I WORK AS AN ANIMATION FILM
MAKER BOTH AS AN INDEPENDENT
FILMMAKER, SOMETIMES DOING
PIECES FOR THE NATIONAL FILM
BOARD AND SOMETIMES DOING
PIECES THAT I TOTALLY GENERATE
AND FINANCE ON MY OWN.

As she speaks, a film plays on screen. The opening slate reads “Ye National Film Board of Canada Presents” over a design featuring hooded medieval figures. A new title reads “Illuminated Lives - a brief history of women's work in the middle ages.”

Ellen continues ILLUMINATED LIVES
IS A FILM THAT I FINISHED IN 1989, AND I
MADE IT AS, I HAD BEEN DOING
SOME RESEARCH INTO THE
MIDDLE AGES AND I LOVED THE
ARTWORK, I LOVED THE LOOK.
IT REALLY SOMEHOW SPOKE TO ME.

The film continues, with animated scenes showing women and nuns working at different chores in bright colours simulating the illustrations on medieval manuscripts.

Ellen continues I LOVED THE FACT THAT IT'S
VERY BEAUTIFULLY DETAILED AND
YET NOT ENTIRELY REALISTIC.
AND I KEPT STUMBLING ON THIS
ARTWORK THAT SHOWED WOMEN'S
WORK, AND I WAS INTRIGUED TO
FIND OUT THAT THERE
WAS SUCH A VARIETY.
I THINK WE TEND TO THINK OF A
FEW STEREOTYPES THAT WE EITHER
THINK OF A PEASANT WOMAN OR
WE THINK ABOUT A DAMSEL
IN A CASTLE.
THIS IS ONE LITTLE SECTION OF
THE ANIMATION FROM THIS SCENE.
NOW, IN THIS SCENE THE
MOVEMENT IS REPEATED
BACK AND FORTH.
WE'RE GOING TO THE CENTRE...
AND THEY'RE TURNING AROUND.
AND THEN THEY CAN GO
BACK THE OTHER WAY.

She flips the animation drawing pages to show the movement.
(Medieval music plays)

Ellen continues WHAT I PARTICULARLY LIKE ABOUT
“ILLUMINATED LIVES.”
IS THAT ALL
THE ELEMENTS SEEM TO
COME TOGETHER SO NICELY.
I THINK OF ALL THE FILMS I'VE
MADE, IT WAS THE SMOOTHEST,
HAPPIEST PRODUCTION.
USUALLY, I FIND, FILMMAKING
IS KIND OF A LURCHING FROM
CRISIS TO CRISIS.

A woman in her teens with dark brown hair, wearing glasses and a red top speaks for the camera. A caption reads “Simren, Student.”

Simren says JUST TO LIFT ONE PERSON'S
ARM IT TAKES LIKE 10 STEPS
JUST TO DRAW.
IT IS SO DIFFICULT AND THEN TO
ME, IT'S LIKE A CHALLENGE THAT
I WOULD LIKE TO SUCCEED IN.

Ellen continues I THINK THE PART I ACTUALLY
FIND HARDEST IN CERTAIN WAYS IS
THE ANIMATION ITSELF.
BUT THAT'S MY NATURE.
I'M A LITTLE BIT
RESTLESS FOR THE PROCESS
OF SITTING DOWN AND
GRINDING THROUGH, CREATING
A PILE OF DRAWINGS.
FOR ME IT'S A GRIND, FOR
SOMEONE ELSE THAT'S THE
GREATEST PLEASURE.

A woman in her twenties in a green jersey sits beside computers and talks for the camera. A caption reads “Rebecca Ott, Computer Animation Student.”

Rebecca says THE COMPUTER IS REALLY A LOT
FASTER THAN DOING SOMETHING BY
HAND LIKE A CLASSICAL
ANIMATION BECAUSE WHAT IT
DOES, IT DOES ALL THE
IN-BETWEEN FRAMES FOR YOU.
AND IT SAVES YOU FROM DOING ALL
THAT SORT OF LIKE “GRUNT WORK.”
IN THE MIDDLE.

(Lively percussion music plays)
Over computer animation drawings, a caption reads “It can take up to 24 drawings to create 1 second of animation.”

A woman in her thirties with long blond hair speaks for the camera. A caption reads “Marion Kulyk, Classical Animation Student.”

As she speaks, a clip shows all the stages in the process she describes.

Marion says I AM A THIRD-YEAR CLASSICAL
ANIMATION STUDENT HERE AT
SHERIDAN COLLEGE AND WHAT
I'M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW IS
MY FINAL FILM.
THE SCENE THAT I'M WORKING ON
IS JED HAVING HIS FOOT SLAMMED
ON THE BRAKES, BEING THROWN
FORWARD AND THEN BACK
INTO THE SEAT.
I HAVE ROUGHED IT OUT, IT'S
NOT CLEAN YET, BUT I'M GOING TO
BE PUTTING IT ON THE LINE
TESTER TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT
THE ACTION MOVES WELL
AND IF IT READS WELL.
A LINE TEST ALLOWS THE
ANIMATOR TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT
THE ANIMATION WORKS.
TO SEE IF EVERYTHING FLOWS,
TO SEE IF ANYTHING JUMPS,
TO CATCH ANY MISTAKES.

Simren says THE COOLEST THING THAT I
WOULD IMAGINE DOING WOULD
PROBABLY BECOMING AN ANIMATOR
BUT OTHER THAN THAT, MAYBE
BECOMING AN ASTRONOMER BECAUSE
I'M VERY INTERESTED IN SPACE
AND PLANETS AND
THINGS LIKE THAT.

Marion continues THE CAMERA TEST IS DONE WHEN
YOU'RE RELATIVELY SURE THAT
THE ANIMATION IS GOOD.
AND SEE WHETHER OR NOT
WHAT YOU'VE ANIMATED WORKS.
IF THERE'S CONTINUITY, IF
THE ACTION FLOWS FROM
POINT A TO POINT B IN
THE ENTIRE SEQUENCE.

Ellen says THERE IS THAT MAGIC WHEN YOU
FIRST SEE ALL THE ELEMENTS
COMING TOGETHER.
WHEN THE FILM REALLY STARTS
TO COME TO LIFE, AND THE MAGIC
MOMENTS ARE SPRINKLED.
THAT FIRST CREATIVE TIME WHEN
YOU'RE WRITING THE IDEA
AND IT'S VERY FRESH.
THE FIRST TIME YOU START TO
SEE SOME OF THE ANIMATION IN
COLOUR AND THEN PUT SOME SOUND
ON IT, IT GETS EXCITING.

(Medieval music plays)
As she speaks, the film runs, showing women at work.
A red-haired teenage girl speaks for the camera. A caption reads “Pippa, Student.”

Pippa says YOU CAN BE VERY, VERY CREATIVE
WHEN YOU'RE AN ANIMATOR.
YOU CAN KIND OF, IT'S KIND OF
LIKE A FREEDOM TO DRAW WHAT
YOU THINK IS BEST, AND YOU CAN
BE AS CREATIVE AS YOU WANT.

Ellen says A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THESE
DAYS THAT EVERYTHING IN
ANIMATION IS COMPUTERIZED.
THE THING TO REMEMBER, THOUGH,
IS THAT THE COMPUTER IS REALLY
NO MORE THAN A KIND OF PENCIL.
IT'S A TOOL WITH
WHICH YOU ANIMATE.

Rebecca says SOMETIMES IT'S FRUSTRATING
WHEN YOU CAN JUST EASILY SEE
HOW YOU COULD FIX SOMETHING, BUT
YOU CAN'T REACH IN THROUGH THE
SCREEN AND, YOU KNOW,
MOVE YOUR MODEL AROUND.
YOU HAVE TO USE THIS MOUSE AND
YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT ON ALL
THESE GRAPHS LIKE, YOU KNOW,
HOW TO GET IT TO MOVE THE WAY
YOU WANT IT TO MOVE.

Ellen continues I'VE ALWAYS LOVED
COMING UP WITH THE IDEAS.
MY HEAD IS FULL OF IDEAS,
MORE THAN I'LL EVER USE.
I LOVE TAKING THAT IDEA AND
STARTING TO TRANSLATE IT INTO
THE STORY BOARD, STARTING
TO MAKE IT CONCRETE.
TRYING OUT DIFFERENT STYLES TO
MAKE IT COME ALIVE VISUALLY.
THERE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE
PEOPLE WHO LIKE WHAT YOU DO
AND ALWAYS GOING TO BE PEOPLE
WHO DON'T LIKE WHAT YOU DO.
AND AS LONG AS THERE ARE SOME
WHO LIKE IT, DON'T WORRY ABOUT
THE REST.

One of the scenes in the movie plays. It shows a battle between knights, with a ship in the background.

Ellen continues I THINK LEARNING TO BE BOLDER,
LEARNING TO CARE LESS WHAT
OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU,
LEARNING TO CARE LESS IF YOU
MAKE MISTAKES, LEARNING TO BE
ABLE TO TAKE CRITICISM WITHOUT
TAKING IT PERSONALLY, THESE
ARE ALL SKILLS THAT I THINK
YOUNG WOMEN HAVE TO LEARN.
I KNOW I'M SAYING THIS
FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE.

(Lively percussion music plays)
A caption reads “Since 1995, the number of female computer animators in North America has increased from 10 percent to 25 percent.”

Ellen continues AT THE BEGINNING, THE FIGHT
FOR RESPECT, TO BE HEARD WAS
AN ONGOING CHALLENGE.
I WAS ACTUALLY KIND OF GLAD TO
GET A FEW WRINKLES AND A LITTLE
BIT OF GREY HAIR BECAUSE THEN I
COULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY FOR A
CHANGE WITHOUT HAVING TO
FIGHT FOR EVERY INCH OF IT.

(Medieval music plays)
Scenes of the movie play.

Ellen continues YOUR FILMS ARE LIKE CHILDREN
THAT GO OUT AND HAVE A LIFE OF
THEIR OWN.
YOU SET THEM OUT AND GO, YOU
DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO
HAPPEN, YOU CAN ONLY HAVE SO
MUCH CONTROL OVER WHAT THEY DO
OUT THERE.
IT'S LIKE YOU'RE DROPPING
SOMETHING IN THE WATER AND
CREATING RIPPLES AND YOU DON'T
KNOW EXACTLY WHERE THE BIGGEST
OF THEM ARE GOING TO END UP.
THAT'S KIND OF AN
EXCITING FEELING.

(Loud percussion theme music plays)

Over swiftly changing photos corresponding to the team, The end credits roll.

Director of Photography, Ken Hillier

Production Manager, Suzanne Lacey.

Producer-Director, Jain Dickson.

Creative Head, Jan Donio.

A Production of TV Ontario. 2000.

Executive Producer, Ray Beyer.

Watch: Ellen Besen: Animator