Officially Selected Alumni Interviews

Farewell Fire: Lift-Off Filmmaker Interview

Farewell Fire is an animation about an alienated woman, troubled by a dark secret, who leaves her tribe on a journey in search of answers. The film screened as part of the Local Filmmakers Showcase in Vancouver.

Interviewed by Bailey Schafer

Can we start with an introduction about yourself?

So I produced Farewell Fire and my fiance Scott Armstrong was the director. It was mainly his idea. We’re both in film, he’s a layout artist, I’m a coordinator and we both work on animated films so we have been doing this in between our jobs. So he would be animating and designing and doing everything after work and on weekends. So it was just a long haul but it was really worth it. It was really awesome you know, to see it on the big screen. We’ve been in a couple festivals too which is really exciting. Scott is always so humble about it. I’m super proud of him.

Do you know how he came up with the idea in the first place?

Well, he started with sketches. He’s always been fascinated by winter. Winter has always been our thing, we just really enjoy snow, so I wasn’t surprised when he came up with something that was very arctic and used the cool colour pallet. We’re both originally hand drawn artists, so he just started sketching and filling up a notebook with different drawings. He created the woman first, then created the child and then the trees and then we put them all together and created the script around that. As you can tell by watching it’s based on visual storytelling.

He ended up putting together the package to get a grant, and we ended up getting the grant, which was amazing. So from there, we were able to come up with a financial plan and really put it together. We ended up getting the resources to hire an animator, hire a sound guy, to get a whole new computer so we could animate his amazing vision. And it came together so well, taking us about two to three years to make the whole thing.  

One thing that definitely stood out for me was the sound and music. So how did you go about building your team?

I’m from a small town in Ottawa, and my mom’s friend’s son, actually does music. So I confronted him, and he said he didn’t do that composing anymore, so he actually put us to the sound guy Patrick Rundblad. He was just brilliant. He got right on board we were just so amazed because he had done commercials, he had done, bigger stuff. We just gave him our scratch put together with the film and the first time he gave it back he was just like “this is just our first pass, it’s not the best but you know just tell me what you think and I’ll make some fixes”. So we listened to it and I was like “Holy s**t. This is just a scratch?” and he was like “well yeah yeah, what can I fix?” and so we wrote up some notes because you know, you always have to have notes right? So he tweaked it and we were just like blown away with the sound, it was, brilliant and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without our grant. It was brilliant because we were able to pay him and Adam Massicotte, our animator.

He’s a good friend of ours, we graduated from animation together. He came on board because we were originally going to do it all in 3D, all in Maya. He’s more of a traditional 2D artist. So we kind of told him the idea and Scott gave him some sketches and the script. Within no time he came back with full tests animated in 2D. So then we thought maybe we could just make the animation 2D and work with that because we’ve always had a want to do that. It just turned out so well and Adam just kept sending us shots and we couldn’t keep up with the revisions. He was just really into it. So we just built a team which was really passionate about this little project.

I mean, I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what was happening the entire time, but I was still so captivated and it was still so entertaining. When it ended I was like, “It’s over?”

Yeah yeah! Scott just wanted to be very visual, very much wanted to leave the viewer to their own devices. You have to interpret it how you want it. He just wanted to create something that was his own mind and his own creation and he did a great job.

What were your goals with the project and do you think you fulfilled them?

Our goal with the project was to create a film and have it circulate around festivals and to meet other people like us that want to create so that we can create a network of wonderful artists just because working as an artist, depending on what you work on, you can be chained down to the rhythm and what you’re told to draw. Whereas in indie films you can create what you want. So I think we have definitely achieved what we wanted. And we’re hungry for more. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome. It’s been in a festival in India, we just got into Cinefest in Sudbury. We won the best short at the Ontario Music and Film awards in Sudbury. And Scott was also nominated for best director. So we’ve just had non stop love and this whole experience has made us so excited to create more.

Is this your first experience with Lift-Off film festival?

It is yes! And they’ve been so helpful. We’ve gotten into other festivals and been denied by others. I had a consultation with Lift-Off on how to promote the film, they’ve just been so above and beyond. I was so shocked and exhilarated with all the efforts they have put in. They aren’t just here to show people’s films, but they actually want to get everybody involved and really help to create that amazing culture that we need more of. Rather than just the people who create the Oscar movies and TV shows, it’s nice to have someone that cares about the smaller stuff, where people put all of their time and money into. And I like how you vote for the films too which is very nice. It makes you think.

What’s next for you?

Well, my sister is getting married in September, so we’re taking a little time off. Scott’s starting on the Spider-man animated series. We’re kind of just coming up with our next idea. Because it will be our second film we are a little more organized with it, so we have a couple of other people who are interested in helping us out and then once we have a script we’ll apply for another grant and hopefully get it because we can’t really make anything happen without the grant at the moment. So we want to have a script cleared and a grant approved by the end of this year, so we can start production in 2018.


Farewell Fire wins a special mention and so will be screening with Lift-Off again in Amsterdam in October.