Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis discuss the honour, career.

It’s hard to imagine that filmmakers Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis didn’t always plan to create films. Imagine their surprise hearing that their short animated film “Wild Life” has been nominated for an Oscar.

It was in the mid-80s that Tilby and Forbis met at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. While at first they didn’t know they wanted to create films, it was during their years in school that they realized it was their calling.

“I had taken art, English and theatre at university, and I was not wanting to commit to any one of those things. I took a year off and went to Europe and I had an epiphany that filmmaking was the perfect combination of all of these things,” Tilby said.

After each creating their own short films, “The Reluctant Deckhand” and “Strings,” Tilby and Forbis began working together on their first short film – “When the Day Breaks” – which won over 30 awards internationally.

After they co-produced “When the Day Breaks” in 1999, they have been working together on commercials, workshops and short films ever since.

For Tilby and Forbis, their work with animated films is all about having control over the final product.

“The process is less diluted than when you work with larger crews. There’s something very satisfying about creating your own world from scratch. There’s something simpler about animation — it’s harder but it’s simpler,” Tilby said.

Their newest film, “Wild Life,” is about thousands of well-to-do young remittance men who came to Western Canada from England in the early years of the 20th century.

The inspiration for the film comes from growing up in Alberta, and grandparents that came over from England, Forbis said.Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis are a Calgarian filmmaking duo that have been nominated for an Oscar for the animated short film “Wild Life”.
Photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada

Now, the film is getting worldwide recognition after being nominated for an Academy Award for best-animated short film. It is one of two films from the National Film Board of Canada to be in this category.

Forbis said, “We heard about it five to 10 minutes after they were announced at 6:30 in the morning, a couple weeks ago now, and we hooted and hollered in delight, it was great.”

Tom Perlmutter, government film commissioner and National Film Board chairperson, said that having two films nominated for an Academy Award is an honour.

“To be nominated twice, in a single year, I believe says something special about the talent of Canadian animators, and the National Film Board’s role in producing pioneering works that focus international attention on Canadian innovation and excellence,” Perlmutter said.

“There’s something very satisfying about creating your own world from scratch.”
– Wendy Tilby, filmmaker
But, Tilby said, “The best part is that there’s affirmation that there’s people that are liking and getting our films. Going to the Oscars is definitely fun, but there’s a lot of publicity and a lot of fuss that gets quite overwhelming for people who are more introverted, like us.”

Now they have the ceremony to look forward to, and then they are ready to take on their next project, Forbis said.

You can catch the Oscars on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. (MST) on CTV.

epollock@cjournal.ca