Island Image Makers
by Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart: So, what got you into filmmaking?
JoDee Samuelson: My friend Vian Emery phoned me to say there was an animation workshop at the Island Media Arts Coop and was I interested. At the time I was substitute teaching, and I thought anything would be better than that. I think this workshop was a JDP (Remember those?). We got paid a stipend to show up and draw every day. It was fabulous. Aileen Brophy was the instructor and it’s because of her that I really got going. She was so beautiful and such a great artist. I loved hanging out with her. Peter Richards also played an important part in my career. He was the coordinator of IMAC at the time. A very inspirational guy. I was so lucky to have these wonderful people around me at that important time. And of course Dave Ward, what would I have done without him? He taught me everything I know about 16 mm film.
Dave: How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?
JoDee: I am a beginner.
Dave: Why animation?
JoDee: I like to draw; I draw every day, so it seems a natural fit.
Dave: Any interest in trying live action?
JoDee: I’ve done a bit of writing and directing live action. It’s way more fun than animation. But I don’t know, it’s pretty intense and I'm kind of a hermit.
Dave: You’ve developed a relationship with the NFB. What has that been like?
JoDee: It’s been cordial. Animators used to work full time for the NFB, with dental benefits and all that. Those days are gone. Everything now with NFB is by contract; you have to have your own company which means doing payroll and monthly tax contributions. It’s a lot of trouble. On the other hand, animating every day year after year is hard on the back, shoulders, eyes. Those old animators who made those fabulous films like The Big Snit, Bead Game, Sandcastle, The Street, The Owl Who Married a Goose…so many more…these artists certainly earned any retirement perks they might enjoy. I don’t put myself in the same category as Carolyn Leaf or John Weldon or any of them. Those guys were creative geniuses.
Dave: What films of yours would you most like people to see? Why?
JoDee: All four of them (The Bath, The Sandbox, Mabel’s Saga, Uncle Bob’s Hospital Visit)! They’re all different and all the same. A well-known Nova Scotia cameraman, Kent Nason, says that we keep making the same film over and over again.
Dave: What’s next for you?
JoDee: I’ve been lounging around for a year, doing art just for the fun of it. I’m giving my eyes a break. My last two films were done at a computer and I find staring at the monitor very tiring. Last year I was painting portraits of my neighbors. Lately I’m into carving owls. Not realistic owls, but kind of folk art owls. It’s as much fun as I’ve ever had. Standing outside whacking at a chunk of wood is very rewarding. But I’ll probably do one more film.
To see some of JoDee’s work, logon to www.onf-nfb.gc.ca.