Tendril is incredibly honoured to present this animated film for Together Project: the film perfectly encapsulates Together Project’s objectives while offering human insights into real experiences of many newcomers.
Written and directed by Julia Deakin and with creative consultation by our good friend Kurt Mills (of Goodby), this film perfectly encapsulates the objectives of Together Project while offering human insights into real experiences of many newcomers. Special thanks to Emilie Muszczak, who beautifully mastered the design and animation for this piece, and a big shout out Elham Nanaa, our sweet 9 year old voice. Elham arrived with her family in 2015, and between Elham and her older sister Hanan they verified that our story hits the nail on the head when it comes to how integration can work at its absolute best. They were both very proud to be part of the creation of this film.
The :60s film is a mix of 2D animation, 3D animation, and hand drawn cel animation. The characters and scenes were designed in Photoshop as well as Procreate on iPad Pro. The layered files were then handed off to the animators, who brought them to life using After Effects, Cinema 4D, and Adobe Animate depending on the needs of each scene. Everything was brought back into After Effects for final comp and output.
Behind the scenes
About Together Project
There are 65 million refugees in the world, and almost 50% of these are children. Families are fleeing war torn or unliveable places—risking their lives, hoping that they are making the right choice to move in one way or another—to find new places in search of a peaceful existence. These other places will ultimately form who they will become. Their fundamental beliefs and self-identity will be challenged. Many will need to learn a new language, be exposed to very different cultures, and may be faced with forms of racism that they have never experienced before. Being displaced from one’s home is not a choice, and as world-renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei has said, this is a “human crisis” not a “refugee crisis”. As global citizens, we are responsible for each other.
Tendril’s studio happens to be located just a block away from one of the many hotels that housed the first wave of Syrian refugees that arrived in Canada in 2015. As a studio that has welcomed artists from dozens of countries, we have a particular sensitivity around integration and inclusion. We try our best to make our staff “from away” feel welcome and part of our team as quickly as possible. Imagine leaving your home to go live somewhere far away . . . Now, imagine doing so without the safety net of friends, family, a job, or colleagues: we feel this only scratches the surface of the pressure these refugee families feel upon their arrival to Canada.
Along with so many Canadians, Tendril Executive Producer and Partner Kate Bate felt compelled to do something. She rallied in a very grassroots way to help families in the nearby hotel feel good about being here. With the help of Tendril staff along with Kate’s friends, neighbours, parents from her kids’ school, her family, and local community organizations, Kate found ways to welcome the refugee newcomers. It started with a visit to the hotel armed with a big smile and open arms. After assessing needs, the first initiative was organized: reliable daily outings for the children to play soccer in a nearby park, run by moms and dads from a local school.
Almost immediately we could see some weight lifted from the shoulders of the parents. The kids had been cooped up and bouncing off the walls, fearful and unwilling to go outside but desperate to play. From there, it was organizing English conversation circles, and then group outings to galleries and museums. It became obvious very quickly that these opportunities were having a secondary effect: during time spent together friendships were forming between the refugee newcomer families and the local Torontonians who had stepped up to get involved.
Recognizing the power of these friendships, Kate co-founded a non-profit organization that would encourage and facilitate more opportunities for Canadians and refugee newcomers to find each other. Together Project, a Project of Tides Canada, was founded on the belief that life in a new country is easier when you have friends. The organization now has three main pillars that have made for a much richer offering to Canadians and newcomers. At its core, it matches groups of volunteers with newcomer families for friendship and settlement support.
To support these matches and with the help of important partnerships, Together Project aims to offer opportunities for: orientation to the city and local and surrounding parks; social networking; education; job skills training; advice on family reunification; and anything else that concerns its constituents. In addition, Together Project is working with universities to create evidence-based research to support the hypothesis that friendship between citizens of host countries and refugee newcomers will make for a more inclusive, happier, healthier Canada.
Director, Design + Animation
Designer / Animator
Christopher Bahry, Alexandre Torres
Leandro Beltran, Samuel Bohn
Music + Sound Effects
Talent Record + Final Mix
Kurt Mills for writing and story consultation