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John Weldon

John Weldonb. May 11, 1945, Belleville, Ontario


Self-taught animator John Weldon is well known for creating comic worlds where average citizens are confronted by absurd circumstances that tear away the fragile underpinnings of their lives. He studied psychology and mathematics at McGill University in Montreal and spent a year at Montreal’s MacDonald Teachers’ College. Although he was a prize-winning mathematician and worked for a year as an actuarial trainee at an insurance company, he wrote an award-winning musical and a play in his spare time and eventually wrote and illustrated his own comic book, “Pipkin Papers.” With this as his portfolio, he applied to the National Film Board and was hired as a freelance assistant for the animation studio in 1970.

 
Weldon started at the NFB as a painter and tracer and has since collaborated on over fifty films and directed twenty of his own. His early films tended to be fables on human nature and modern life. Spinnolio (1977), the story of a wooden puppet who goes far in life simply by doing nothing, won several international prizes and a Canadian Film Award for Best Animated Short. The macabre Special Delivery (1979), which Weldon co-directed with Eunice Macaulay, follows a postman, his wife and her lover as they work their way through a darkly humorous scenario of love, death, misunderstanding and exile. The film won an Academy Award® and numerous other international honours, including top prize at the Zagreb Animation Festival in the former Yugoslavia.

 
Weldon has proven himself to be equally capable of making the sprightly entertaining or engagingly educational films that characterize the approach of the NFB – his charming and popular Log Driver’s Waltz (1979) is a fine example – as he is at crafting his own, more unique films, which, despite their humour, tackle serious issues and are often concerned with identity, ethics, and individual and social responsibility. The stylish Real Inside (1984) mixes live-action and animation in its story of a cartoon character who applies for a job because he wants to be human. To Be (1990) – a sequel to The Fly in which a scientist is duplicated through a teleport machine – and The Lump (1991) are both sly digs that expose the foibles and pettiness of humanity. He was also a story consultant on The Cat Came Back (1989), one of the most popular shorts ever produced by the NFB. More recently, Weldon won a Genie and several other major awards for The Hungry Squid (2001).

By Andrew McIntosh

Film and video work includes

The Energy Carol, 1975 (animator)

You’ve Read the Book – Now See the Movie, 1975 (director; writer; animator)

Lady Fishbourne’s Complete Guide to Better Table Manners, 1976 (voice)

What Do You Do?, 1976 (animator)

No Apple for Johnny, 1997 (director; writer; animator; voice)

Spinnolio, 1977 (director; story; animator)

Special Delivery, 1978 (director; writer; animator)

Canada Vignettes: Log Driver’s Waltz, a.k.a. Log Driver’s Waltz, 1979 (director; animator)

The National Scream, 1980 (animator)

Canada Vignettes: Ice, 1982 (co-producer with David Verrall)

Ottawa 82 Logo, 1982 (director; co-producer with David Verrall, Yossi Abolafia)

Canada Vignettes: Emergency Numbers, 1984 (director)

Real Inside, 1984 (co-director with David Verrall; writer; animator; co-producer with David Verrall)

Elephantrio, 1985 (director; cinematographer; animator)

Giordano, 1985 (writer)

The Cat Came Back, 1988 (story consultant)

Of Dice and Men, 1988 (director; writer; animator)

To Be, 1990 (director; writer; animator; composer)

Vignette: Para Sight, 1990 (director)

The National Film Board of Canada’s Animation Festival, 1991 (director; TV)

The Lump, 1991 (director; writer; animator; composer)

Netty Schwartz Vanderpool – Every Stitch a Memory, 1993 (sound)

Scant Sanity, 1996 (director; story; animator; composer)

O Canada series, 1997 (writer)

Frank the Wrabbit, 1998 (director; writer; animator)

The Hungry Squid, 2001 (director; writer)

Noël Noël, 2003 (writer, TV)

Note: Updated to June 30, 2005



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