8-year-old First Nations filmmaker animates his stories
Colton Willier already has 2 movies to his credit, and a 3rd is in the works
Colton Willier is a writer, director and animator who has finished work on his second stop-motion animated film.
And the Cree and Blackfoot First Nations artist is only eight years old.
Shirtnami is a two-minute, cut-out animation film about a pile of T-shirts fresh from the washer that take over a town, only to be conquered by Skateboarding Pants, characters from the youngster's first film.
Skateboarding Pants was released in 2016 and featured at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto last year where he was the youngest filmmaker ever to show at the festival.
"This time I made it [the movie] in 12 hours with a broken arm," said Colton, who says the creative process of making stop-motion animation begins with taking photos of his drawings and cut-outs.
Colton doesn't want to go to anymore film fests. When you're eight years old and your film is screened with a bunch of others — some are weird or gory or boring — it's hard to sit through them all.- Colton's mother, Amy Willier
"Since I know a lot about animation with my iPad, I had to keep clicking this button, moving it and another button," he said.
Shirtnami was screened in London, England, at the Native Spirit Film Festival earlier this month, as well as at Edmonton's Dreamspeakers Film Festival. It's also due to be screened Nov. 11 at the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles, where he will be the youngest participant, and featured at the California American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival, also in early November.
However, the youngster is more interested in creating his films than he is in attending film festivals, says his proud mother Amy Willier, who helped edit and animate Shirtnami.
"Colton doesn't want to go to anymore film fests," she laughed. "When you're eight years old and your film is screened with a bunch of others — some are weird or gory or boring — it's hard to sit through them all. "
Colton makes animated movies every chance he gets using Lego, clay, drawings or toys, his mom says. He's always creating.
Colton, who created Shirtnami at the Quickdraw Animation Society on a scholarship from Calgary Animated Objects Society, says his favourite part of making movies is seeing the end result, though he's not sure he'll make filmmaking a career because "I might still grow out of it."
However, his mom is supporting his talents no matter which direction he takes.
"I'm more excited about his filmmaking career than I think he is," she said. "I don't think he realizes how extraordinary it is. I just want to help him achieve whatever goals he has."
His mom says Colton draws inspiration from the encouragement of one of his of favourite actors, Wonder Woman's Eugene Braverock of the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta, who has encouraged Willier to keep doing what he loves.
"It's pretty cool," Colton said. "Maybe a movie star [in Hollywood] will watch it and tell it to another movie star."
A third film is already in the works.