This month, Calgary’s beloved Quickdraw Animation Society will be kicking off its 30th year in a way that only Quickdraw can: there will be a special party at Tubby Dog on May 4th that will feature lots of cake, live music and a preview of their upcoming season.

But perhaps the true gem is the Animation Lockdown, which will be taking place at the Quickdraw offices May 16 to 19. A few days later, on May 23, a special screening of Michael Jordan’s magnum opus, Space Jam, will take place at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA).

QAS’s Animation Lockdown consists of participants being “locked down” in the Quickdraw offices and given access to various animation materials such as a green screen, tablets, film stock and some nifty computer software. At the end of the 48 hours, the participants will have completed their very own original piece of animation. All the completed works are later screened for everyone to see.

The participants have some guidelines to help them through the creative process. The theme this year is “Life vs. Cartoons”, which has Quickdraw’s programming director Laura Leif excited about the potential outcomes.

“The strongest themes are ones that direct people a little bit but still gives them a lot of freedom too. I’m stoked about this year’s because there’s so many ways to interpret it,” she says.

Obviously, the pressures of animating an original short film can be stressful, but Leif upholds a positive vibe to the matter.

“I feel when you’re out of your element, you’re not as prone to getting hung up on how your idea should turn out,” she says. “There’s also a time crunch. You don’t have time to second-guess yourself; you just have to do it. It’s actually kind of crazy how good the animations are that come out of it. People can spend years on animations, but in 48 hours, people come up with the coolest stuff.”

The event welcomes all levels of experience. Although some background is encouraged, it is not mandatory.

“We’ve definitely have had tons of people who have never animated before at past events. People can come in and get set up, talk to the tech people and get advice on what equipment would be best for them,” says Leif.

The HSCA will be hosting the screening this year, which will feature not only the completed works from the Animation Lockdown – and the aforementioned Space Jam – but also a friendly game of basketball in the gymnasium.

It is hard not to share Leif’s excitement to be able to create your own art and then having it paired with the screening of a nostalgic classic. It is a match in animation heaven that just about everyone in the animation community dreams about.

In terms of the lockdown, Leif says it is really representative of everything Quickdraw tries to do, which is to bring beginners and advanced animators alike to collaborate together within the community.

“The thing I find really magical about it is that it’s really accessible and welcoming. People are doing something really creative together,” she says.

At 30 years young, QAS shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to provide a warm and welcoming environment for people to hone and adopt the art of animation and film making. Here’s to 30 more, QAS; see you on the court.

Quickdraw’s 30th year kickoff takes place on May 4th at Tubby Dog. Animation Lockdown runs May 16-19 at the Quickdraw office. Space Jam basketball party takes place May 23rd at HSCA. Check http://www.quickdrawanimation.ca for more details.

By Alonso Melgar
Illustration: Laura Leif

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