Anita Lebeau’s latest animated short brings us the story of Annie, a woman who, despite being caught up in the circus of everyday life, finds her balance.
Using a combination of live-action footage (partially culled from family archives) and traditional animation, Lebeau takes us on a whirlwind tour through Annie’s world. Though incredibly busy, Annie isn’t a slave to the external forces in her life; she’s learned how to step away. Her story shows us the power that lies in the small choices we make every day.
A Change of Scenery is a stylistic departure from Lebeau’s previous two films, Big Drive and Louise. It’s a charming film with an empowering message, touching on the themes of responsibility, relationships, self-care, and mindfulness. It offers us the chance to change our perspectives and maybe carve out a space of our very own.
Meet Annie, a woman who, despite being caught up in the circus of everyday life, finds her balance. Using live-action footage and traditional animation, filmmaker Anita Lebeau takes us on a whirlwind tour through Annie’s busy world and shows us the power that lies in the small choices we make every day.
Meet Annie and take a whirlwind tour through her busy world while discovering the power that lies in the small choices we make every day.
Question: Where did the idea for A Change of Scenery come from?
Answer: This project grew from me watching old family home movies that contained a parade scene on a cold day. As my mom filmed the event, the batteries in her Super 8 camera grew cold, with the consequence that the action (once the film was processed) went progressively faster. The scene seemed to reflect my life at the time—things were a little frenzied—and the feeling of “How does one stop the parade?” came to me as the character of Annie, in search of mindful change. While working on the film I felt envious of Annie many times! But she did in fact teach me to slow down the parade in my mind. To some extent, she is a miniature of me.
Q: The combination of animation and live-action footage make for a unique look and feel. Can you talk about the techniques you used to create the film?
A: The film is “tradigital” multi-media animation. I spent a great deal of time assembling the live-action footage. I used our home movie parade footage, as well as some archival segments I found on Pond5 and Prelinger websites. I took photographs of random items and created mini videos to include in the film. I worked back and forth between ToonBoom Harmony software, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, creating the animated elements for the stream (adding some “real” things like gears and chairs and cobs of corn), and building one continuous movie that I could use with most of my scenes. I wanted to create the sense that the stream represents Annie’s mind, a relentless repetition of ideas, worries, tasks, etc. I brought the assembled footage (parade and stream of elements) back into ToonBoom and integrated Annie with it all—that is, added the animation to the footage.
Q: This film is so relevant and true to our time. What do you want your audiences to take away from it?
A: That this film is less about escaping what the world throws at you and more about how you think and feel about what the world presents to you, and what “rules the day.” I didn’t want this to come across as “Poor Annie, she’s stuck in the grind of the modern world, how will she escape it?” but more like, “Gee Annie, put the gazillion things in your mind to rest for a bit and just….BE.”
Q: This is your third film with the NFB. How, if at all, does this film differ from your first two?
A: My first two films were part of a learning curve for becoming an animator. Since I wasn’t formally trained, other than a couple of short courses long ago, I relied heavily on animation artists as assistants on my projects (notably Jason Doll on Louise, and Chris Cormier on Big Drive).
I contemplated having an assistant on A Change of Scenery, but decided it was important to do it all on my own. I wanted to BE Annie, not surrender her to someone else to decide how she should move and react to things. I’m sure I took on more than I should have, but I’m happy with the experience of it all. This is probably my most technically and creatively satisfying project, the storytelling is more compact.
Story-wise, it’s not that I deliberately try to represent my family in my work (although Louise may be the exception here), it’s just that they’re handy when I want to explore an idea. But this time, instead of being about my family, this story is about me. I’m inviting you into my head where you can hear all the noise inside—the worries, thoughts, ideas, arguments, plans, reminders, the counting of blessings, the constant regurgitation of stuff—and watch as I try to tame it. It’s hard sometimes, even when I’m asleep, to escape that noise. This focus on me definitely marks a departure.
Q: Are you as busy as Annie? What else is on your slate at the moment?
A: I have a short film, FACE|TIME, premiering around the same time that A Change of Scenery debuts. And I have two other project ideas that I’m hoping to float and have funded. Otherwise, I animate on a fun French children’s series called Canot Cocasse (Manitomedia and Loogaroo), I teach animation at the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, and I work at prose writing. And I do my very best to step away from the computer to spend time with my family! More and more. I’m getting there!
Written & Directed by
Digital Image Consultation
Sound Mix | Re-recording
Online | Colour Correction
Centre Operations Manager
Lebeau Family Collection
Scott, Emma and Maggie Collins
Executive Director English Program
Michelle Van Beusekom
A production of The National Film Board of Canada – North West Studio
@2019 The National Film Board of Canada