Connections and opportunities: A 5-week residency in animated film

Written by Tracey Richard

At this time in the spring of 2023, with the help of an artsnb grant, I was lucky enough to take part in the Cinémathèque Québécoise’s animated film residency in Montreal.

I was invited to spend five inspiring weeks in Montreal, surrounded by exceptional filmmakers and industry professionals.

My stay in Montreal has helped tremendously to advance my short film project, La Femme et le Diable [the woman and the devil] (working title), which I’ve been working on for some time, with my twin sister Angie Richard, who is also co-director.

Inspired by Acadian folk tales, such as that of the Dancing devil, the research for this project focuses on the relationship between woman and devil. Reduced to its essential details, this legend tells the story of a young girl who is seduced by the devil disguised as a charming knight, then punished for her disobedience and for agreeing to make a pact with him. With this project, we aim to deal with subjects such as femininity and rurality, while freely exploring the aesthetics of horror and genre films, through the use of stop-motion animation techniques.

I also learned a lot about the animation industry. I was able to visit many interesting places, such as the archives of the Cinémathèque and the Boucherville conservation center, and even two production studios, ED films and Embuscade.

It was very beneficial for me to be surrounded by the other participants of the residency. The group was made up of Antonin (Switzerland), Soline (France), Stéphanie (Martinique), Lukas (Winnipeg, based in Montreal) and Angie (Acadie). Throughout the residency, we exchanged ideas, commented on each other’s work and shared our experiences. This experience allowed me to forge friendships with artists who also work in animated films.

The residency also offered several opportunities. My participation in the Sommets du Cinéma d’Animation, especially during the artists in residence’s 5 to 7, gave me the opportunity to present my project to an audience and showcase my experience at the residency. It was a very special moment. I was also able to share my project with director Inna Sahakyan (director of the opening film Aurora’s Sunrise), during a private meeting with the residents on one day of the festival. There were also several learning moments such as the WIP (Work in Progress) summits and Janet Perlman’s master class (The Girl in the Red Beret).

I was able to meet with a mentor during the residency. From this mentorship, I was able to discover and explore several tools, such as working with animatics. I also had the chance to learn a little more about felting and puppet making.

Furthermore, my mentor Eva Cvijanovic was a source of inspiration and a wonderful guide who was able to coach me and help develop my script idea.

I returned from this residency with some very fond memories, good contacts and several professional avenues to explore in the near future.

Tracey Richard is an Acadian filmmaker, musician and multidisciplinary artist based on the unceded traditional territories of the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq peoples (Moncton), New Brunswick. After studying classical music as a flautist, she pursued a creative practice in media arts, exploring volume animation, audiovisual installations and projections, in collaboration with Collectif HAT. Her work has been presented internationally and nationally at several festivals (Les Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma, Le Festival International du Film sur l’Art, Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation, Dawson City International Short Film Festival). In 2019, her film “Le grous poisson” won the Prix La vague ACIC/ONF award for Best Acadian Short Film at the 33rd Festival International du Cinéma Francophone en Acadie.

She has also performed at numerous music festivals and venues in the Maritime provinces. More recently, she participated in the SOCAN Foundation’s “Equité X” music production mentoring program and is currently participating in the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s “Femmes en Post-Prod” program. A self-proclaimed horror film fan, she is currently working on a project exploring aspects of femininity, rurality and horror aesthetics.

Follow Tracey’s and Collectif HAT’s practice:

Intagram: @tracenator @collectif.hat