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NFB Hothouse 11: ‘Little Big Bang’ (Duncan Major)

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Hothouse11_DuncanMajorThis 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.

Duncan Major started out as a printer’s devil making books, cards and posters with metal and wood type in a letterpress shop at the age of 14. After obtaining a degree in English he took a left turn into the world of graphic design, and since 2010 has worked at the Newfoundland-based creative agency Perfect Day. Alongside his wife Duncan also runs the letterpress print shop Walpurgis Press.

On the production of Little Big Bang:

Little Big Bang is a linocut animation about two beings. It’s inspired by becoming a father and learning unexpected things from a baby. Visually the film grew out of a love for the rich grainy texture you get from putting ink on linoleum and printing it on paper, and the random misalignments and miscuts that can occur in printmaking. When I was moving from script to animatic to animation (with generous guidance and help from the people around me), I was thinking a lot about the pure expressiveness of babies, about getting stuck in a pattern of thinking, and about the imprints people leave on each other.
When I was writing my proposal, my wife said, “What about letterpress animation?” I knew immediately it was something I’d love to try, and I knew there could be something in that process that could inform the story.

On the benefits of Hothouse:

Hothouse gives you a unique opportunity to make a complete film quickly, learn a new process or hone an existing one, and work with the NFB, which has been releasing innovative films for decades. For me it was also a logistically feasible opportunity, since I could work from home and be close to my family but be part of something national.
To see how other people work and think, whether they be an editor, producer, sound designer, animator or otherwise, was enriching. I learned a lot about animation. Living in a remote place, it was a lifeline to a creative hive. It was an eye opener and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

What next?

I’d like to try something with linocuts again, and maybe pen and ink. For now I’m just waiting in the wings, collecting ideas.

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

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