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The Fox & The Pigeon creators and Annie Award Winning students and their faculty mentor, Stephen Barnes

Sheridan animation student project receives Annecy festival award

June 24, 2020

The Fox & The Pigeon, an Annie Award-winning film created last year by a team of third-year Sheridan College Honours Bachelor of Animation students, has been recognized with another major accolade.

France’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival announced Friday that The Fox & The Pigeon is the inaugural winner of the festival’s YouTube Award, an honour given to a film in competition in the Graduation Films category. In January, the film’s creative team of Morgan Thompson, Michelle Chua, Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, Kevin Sung, Chelsea van Tol, Matt Walton and Steven Wang became the first group of current Sheridan students to win an Annie Award when their third-year group project was named Best Student Film at the 47th annual Annie Awards in Los Angeles.

The YouTube Award includes a cash prize of 10,000 euros (approximately $15,300 CAD) to assist in financing a new production that will be hosted on YouTube — meaning that the OOV Studios team of Class of 2020 graduates will be working together once again. Another condition of the award is that The Fox & The Pigeon will soon be viewable to the public on YouTube for a minimum of six months; until now, the clever six-minute animated short had been kept private in order to maintain eligibility in various film festivals.

“We were such an interesting group of people that just happened to get together and somehow clicked really well. In the back of our minds, I think we always wanted to work together again, and now we’ve been given this opportunity with a big kickstart to do that,” says Chua. “That’s very exciting, and it’s also very exciting that we’re finally able to show The Fox & The Pigeon publicly. A lot of family and friends have asked to see it.”

A still from the Annie Award winning film, The Fox & The PigeonThe Fox & The Pigeon, which adeptly combines 3D and 2D animation techniques, is a tale of self-empowerment that arises out of an argument between Fox and a curious Pigeon. Eventually, the characters revel against their sinister narrator, break free from the storybook that contains them and rearrange the letters to write their own story.

Discussions about OOV Studios’ next project have already begun despite the fact that many of the team members are already working as full-time animators. “It’ll be a nice personal side project we can all work on,” says Chua, who now works for Netflix Animation. “We don’t know yet what we’ll come up with next, but we’ll figure that out.”

The Fox & The Pigeon wasn’t Sheridan’s only connection to this year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival. 1990 Animation graduate Dean Deblois, a Golden Globe winner and three-time Academy Award nominee for his How to Train Your Dragon animated trilogy, delivered a Q&A-style virtual masterclass Thursday as part of the festival’s online edition.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Sheridan’s animation program, which includes the Bachelor of Animation and Bachelor of Game Design degrees as well as post-graduate certificates in computer animation, visual effects and digital creature animation. In April, Animation Career Review ranked Sheridan as the number one animation school in the world (excluding U.S. institutions) for the second consecutive year.