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NFB: Hothouse 11: ‘Mindfork’ (Catherine Dubeau)

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Hothouse11_CatherineDubeauThis week on Skwigly we’re delighted to meet the participants of the National Film Board of Canada‘s 11th Hothouse apprenticeship scheme for emerging Canadian animators.

After five years of art school in her teens, Catherine Dubeau spent several years at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, a local film production college. Upon getting accepted into Concordia University’s Animation Film Studies program, Catherine developed an instant passion for the medium the moment she saw her drawings come to life for the first time.

On the production of Mindfork:

My short is about how overwhelming it can feel when your mind is bombarded from all sides, by both external and inner noise. I really wanted the animation to present some sort of loss of control and direction. The development of the film greatly influenced the content, as I spent many weeks completely at a loss, unsure of whether to listen to others or my own intuition. My movie felt very bland until I realized I had to take some advice while still staying true to myself.
I’ve always been a sucker for classic 2D animation. Animation on paper is my first love, but given the very restricted timeframe we had to make our films, I had to go for a more digital technique. I was afraid I’d lose some of the hands-on feel that paper animation offers, but I was able to get the look I was going for with the Cintiq. I also decided to work in black and white because I like how it contrasted with the theme of my film. Black-and-white drawings feel very clean and neat, while my film is anything but.

On the benefits of Hothouse:

I love working under pressure. There is nothing quite like knowing that every day counts. It encourages you to be smart about the choices you make in your animation. The fact that the films have to be no more than a minute long forces the artists to get straight to the heart of their concept. Everything ends up feeling very raw and real for that reason. You also get to work with professionals who are as into your film as you are. It’s very rare as emerging artists to have access to the type of resources the NFB has to offer, so it is an incredible opportunity to do high-quality work.
I’ll never forget the people I met. Putting aside the fact that they make for great contacts within the Montreal and international animation circle, they were amazing, incredible individuals and artists. Their passion will always resonate with me, and it made me way less fearful of team work. I always saw animation as a lone-wolf type of medium, but Hothouse completely changed my perspective in that respect. I can say with confidence that my movie would never look and sound like it does now without everyone’s help.

What next?

I went into animation to make my own films, and this is what I’ll keep working towards achieving. While working on the development of my next animated short, I am keeping my mind (and hands) busy on other projects. My love and passion for animation was always there, and Hothouse just added a little more fuel to my fire.

Keep your eyes on Skwigly over the coming days to hear more from the Hothouse 11 participants. To learn more about the work of Catherine Dubeau visit

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