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“The Universality of the Cartoon Form” | Jono McLeod, My Old School

Alan Cumming in My Old School by Jono McLeodAlan Cumming in My Old School by Jono McLeod, an official selection of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)

The last two years have prompted much contemplation and reconsideration of the reasons why we make our films as well as the ways in which we make them. What aspect of your filmmaking—whether in your creative process, the way you finance your films, your production methodology or the way you relate to your audience—did you have to reinvent in order to make and complete the film you are bringing to the festival this year?

The majority of the interviews in my film were shot pre-COVID, and our aim was to shoot live-action flashback scenes in summer 2020. When the obstacles started to stack up against that plan, I had to think again. It was actually some lockdown binge-watching that helped me find a course of action. I’d been blown away by the production design on Disney+’s Wandavision and how perfectly they had recreated different eras of television history. I thought if I could figure a way to do the same with animation, then I might be able to capture something of 1990s (and 1970s) high school life. Pairing up with the team at Scotland’s leading animation company, Wild Child, we came up with the concepts that would become our animation styles. One of my biggest takeaways from the process has been an understanding of the universality of the cartoon form and the human connection that we can make with a simple construction of lines and circles. I’m really glad that I was forced into that rethink, as I don’t think my film would be at Sundance otherwise.

See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.

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