Get to Know Indie Filmmakers Justin Tomchak

In this series, we present some of the most interesting independent animators working today. Through their short films and other projects, these artists are changing the way we think about what the medium of animation can do.

This week's topic is underground Canadian artist, musician, and animator Justin Tomchak.

In a nutshell, Tomchak's vibrant lo-fi digital work confuses, amuses, soothes, philosophizes, surrealizes, and is sometimes downright ridiculous.

Where to Start: The Cycle of Life (2019) A Campbell's soup can drifts through a warehouse and eventually reaches a corporate boardroom. From there, strange things happen. It is a scathing satire on corporations and capitalism, a lynchian dissolution of the mind.

What to watch next: My Birthday Suit | SAFE MODE: 01 (2022). Set in a world called "Interface," the three-headed protagonist Sumea is visited by an administrator who has been forced into SAFE MODE. Smea must figure out what is going on and how to restore the interface. A wonderfully hypnotic techno-sci-fi piece.

Other major works: "Caillou Dies" (2021), "The End of an Era" (2021), "Joe Rogan, Angel of the Tanks" (2022), "Seinfeld Expands" (2023).

Influences: "In filmmakers, Michael Mann, mainly for his use of music and choice of DP for cinematography. Two others, Jesper Kyd and Akira Yamaoka, are composers working mainly in the field of video games, without whom I would not have started making music"


says: "My animations look very crude, but I try to approach their drawings and color choices in the same way I approach painting. Especially in the "Interface" series I am currently working on, light plays a big role in the style. Just a few bright strokes on a dark background can create a dynamic, non-flat animation.

Currently in production: episode 6 of his new web series "Safe Mode," which will eventually be compiled into a feature film; in September, the 2023 Ottawa International Animation Festival will host the first retrospective of his work.