Ryan Larkin

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Ryan Larkin
Ryan Larkin, portrait.jpg
Born(1943-07-31)July 31, 1943
Montreal, Canada
DiedFebruary 14, 2007(2007-02-14) (aged 63)
St-Hyacinthe, Canada
Occupation Film director
Years active1964–2007

Ryan Larkin (July 31, 1943 – February 14, 2007) was a Canadian animator, artist, and sculptor who rose to fame with the psychedelic Oscar-nominated short Walking (1968) and the acclaimed Street Musique (1972). He was the subject of the Oscar-winning film Ryan .

Animator Person who makes animated sequences out of still images

An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, and video games. Animation is closely related to filmmaking and like filmmaking is extremely labor-intensive, which means that most significant works require the collaboration of several animators. The methods of creating the images or frames for an animation piece depend on the animators' artistic styles and their field.

Artist person who creates, practises and/or demonstrates any art

An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers. "Artiste" is a variant used in English only in this context; this use is becoming rare. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.


Early life

Larkin had idolized his older brother, Ronald, whom he described as "cool". [1] In 1958, he and his brother and a girlfriend went boating in a swift current river near home.The girl jumped off the boat midstream to swim but the girl was soon in trouble so Ron jumped off to save her. She did make it back to the boat but sadly Ron did not and drowned while Ryan was in the boat but unable to help him [2] because he had never learned to swim, and stated that his brother's death deeply scarred him. [1]

Larkin attended the Art School of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where he studied under Arthur Lismer (a member of the Group of Seven) before starting to work at the National Film Board of Canada in 1962. [1]

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Art museum in Montreal, Quebec

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is an art museum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is the city's largest museum and is amongst the most prominent in Canada. The museum is located on the historic Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street.

Arthur Lismer Canadian artist

Arthur Lismer, CC was an English-Canadian painter and member of the Group of Seven. He is known for his paintings of ships in dazzle camouflage.

Group of Seven (artists) group of Canadian landscape painters

The Group of Seven, also sometimes known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933, originally consisting of Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A. Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later, A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926, Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930, and LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.

Larkin was bisexual, having had sexual and romantic relationships with both women and men during his lifetime. [3]

NFB years

At the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Larkin learned animation techniques from the ground-breaking and award-winning animator Norman McLaren. He made two acclaimed short animated films, Syrinx (1965) and Cityscape (1966), before going on to create Walking (1969). Walking was nominated for an Academy Award in 1970 in the category Best Short Subject, Cartoon, but lost to It's Tough to Be a Bird by director Ward Kimball. Syrinx won many international awards. [1] He went on to direct the award-winning short Street Musique, which premiered in 1972 and would be the last of his works, finished during his lifetime.

National Film Board of Canada Canadas public film and digital media producer and distributor

The National Film Board of Canada is Canada's public film and digital media producer and distributor. An agency of the Government of Canada, the NFB produces and distributes documentary films, animation, web documentaries, and alternative dramas. In total, the NFB has produced over 3,000 productions since its inception, which have won over 5,000 awards. The NFB reports to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. It has English-language and French-language production branches.

Norman McLaren Scottish-born Canadian experimental animator and film director

Norman McLaren, was a Scottish Canadian animator, director and producer known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and filmmaking, including hand-drawn animation, drawn-on-film animation, visual music, abstract film, pixilation and graphical sound.

<i>Its Tough to Be a Bird</i> 1969 film by Ward Kimball

It's Tough to Be a Bird is a 1969 educational animated short made by Walt Disney Productions. It was directed and produced by Ward Kimball. The short won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoons in 1970 and was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Animated Film in 1971. This was the last animated short film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios to win an Academy Award, until Paperman in 2013.

He also contributed art work and animation effects to NFB films including the 1974 feature Running Time, directed by Mort Ransen, in which Larkin also played three bit parts.

Mort Ransen is a Canadian film and television director and screenwriter, best known for his Genie Award-winning 1995 film Margaret's Museum.

In 1975, the NFB commissioned Larkin to create a mural for the entrance foyer at its Montreal headquarters. [1] [4] He delivered a piece featuring an adolescent boy with an erection, which the NFB removed from viewing. [4]

Larkin left the NFB in 1978.

Ryan, the film

In later years Larkin was plagued by a downward spiral of drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness. By this time estranged from his parents, he had developed a routine of spending his nights at the Old Brewery Mission, and his days panhandling at Schwartz's, eating at Mondo Frites, drinking beer at the Copacabana bar, or reading a book in the lounge at Welch's used book store. [1] Towards the end of his life, he found himself back in the limelight when a 14-minute computer-animated documentary on his life, Ryan , by Canadian animator Chris Landreth, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and screened to acclaim at film festivals throughout the world. Alter Egos (2004), directed by Laurence Green, is a documentary about the making of Ryan that includes interviews with both Larkin and Chris Landreth as well as with various people who knew Larkin at the peak of his own success. [5]

Later work

As of 2002, Larkin had been working with composer Laurie Gordon of the band Chiwawa on a new animated film entitled Spare Change, his first auteur film since working at the NFB. Together they founded Spare Change Productions and sought funding for the film through Gordon's production company MusiVision. They received grants from Bravo!FACT, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and SODEC but were still short of financing. MusiVision and the National Film Board of Canada went into co-production only after Larkin's death. Spare Change premiered at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 9, 2008. Spare Change features three CHIWAWA tunes for which Larkin created storyboards and animation, including Do It For Me from the 2005 release Bright. A new CHIWAWA album Bus Stop Chinese Buffet will include tracks from Spare Change including Overcast Skies whose lyrics were penned by Larkin, and part of a group of Larkin poems - Beat Poems For Grandkids. [6]

MusiVision also produced the documentary film Ryan's Renaissance for CTV Television about Ryan's final years, his return to creating art, and Spare Change. It was produced by Gordon and Nicola Zavaglia. [7] Larkin, who had panhandled outside Montreal Schwartz's deli, appeared briefly in a documentary on the famous restaurant, Chez Schwartz, directed by Garry Beitel [8]

In December 2006, Larkin created three five-second bumpers for MTV in Canada, a preview to Spare Change. Each frame was hand-drawn. It was the first professional work he had executed in over 20 years. [9] Larkin said that he had given up some bad habits, including drinking, in order to better focus on his animating career. [10]


Larkin died in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec on February 14, 2007 from lung cancer which had spread to his brain. [11]

See also

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  2. Uncle Don
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  7. Doyle, John (19 February 2011). "February's hard. And these shows don't make it better". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  8. Nestruck, J. Kelly (2006-09-28). "May the Schwartz be with you". National Post. Archived from the original on 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
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  10. "Animator Ryan Larkin off the streets, onto MTV". CBC Arts. 2006-12-21. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  11. "Ryan Larkin Dies at Age 63". Animation World Network. 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-08-09.