Q&A: Eoin Duffy on his new animated short film

The Vancouver-based animator talks about his drawing style and inspiration for i am here

This year’s VIFF selection of the National Film Board of Canada includes Vancouver-based Eoin Duffy’s i am here, an animated short film that tells the story of a mysterious traveller in search of the origin of the universe, life and God. Duffy recently spoke with VanMag to give insight into this short yet complex film.How did you come up with the idea for i am here?I guess my thoughts on faith and atheism. I recognize as an atheist, and I thought of the kind of path you have to go through to get there. Not really preaching one or the other, just for the story of this person’s journey loosely touching on that subject.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you often address themes such as existence, grief and consciousness? They’re all of interest to me, I find them hope-lifting, you know. You can tell someone they’re insignificant in the universe, and that makes them feel small and shit, but to me it makes everyday worries, like missing the bus and being late for work or not handing in a project in time, less important, none of it matters. There are massive black holes out there, and we’re so small and insignificant. Who are we to worry about these tiny problems? I think this makes everyday troubles small when you put them in perspective, so it’s kind of a positive message in the end. It’s good to be insignificant—you can’t fuck up too bad.What about your drawing style. Has it always been minimalist? How do you think it affects the way viewers perceive the film?My father’s an artist, and I started off doing his illustration style, which is very photorealistic, not hugely interpretive. But then I went into design and fell in love with minimalism, trying to add as few elements to the page as possible, making an artwork out of simple shapes, and creating this little puzzle of what you’re looking at. As for my drawing style , I like that the audience has to work to decide what’s going on, and there’s never too much in the scene, so there isn’t a lot to pull in and analyze. Small and simple, but yet complicated, trying to figure out what’s going on.What is it like to know that the short film may have a lot of different interpretations? For me, that’s one of the most attractive things, putting it out there and letting people come up with their own interpretations. Every time I do small private screenings, people ask what the films are to me, and even after I give my explanation of why I made them, they still go away with their own interpretation. Everyone makes their own film, which is new and exciting for me.How has it been to work with the NFB for this project?They’re amazing. They give you full creative freedom and are willing to risk producing projects that no one else would, stuff that doesn’t have any commercial value and would never get made otherwise, if not for the NFB. So I think they’re helping push forward animation as a medium, as a serious art medium.i am here has its world premier this Sunday at VIFF. Tickets are available here.