Terry O'Neill

Personal Statement

Working as a filmmaker and designer in the realm of creative non- fiction, I make short films, immersive installations, and feature-length documentaries. I teach post-secondary design and film making with a hands-on approach. I believe in craft and I believe in working with a conceptual spine—a foundational idea that serves as a guide.

 

Education

Originally trained as an architect, I earned my Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Waterloo. After graduating and finding little work at the time I completed a Post-Graduate of Computer Animation at Sheridan College in 1995. Since then I have continued to sharpen my filmmaking skills at Liaison of Independent Filmmakers in Toronto, attending courses on editing, writing and location sound.

 

Teaching Experience

I have taught GBDA 101 Digital Media Design and Production as a part-time lecturer at University of Waterloo's Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. This introductory course focuses on graphic design. The students were tasked with the over-arching challenge of creating a branding package for one of their classmates. Assignments covered: DSLR basics, branding statements, mood boards, poster design, story boarding, animated gifs and motion graphics. 
My approach to teaching combines hands-on experience with active experimentation, followed by ref lections in the form of critiques. Introductory lectures explored story telling theory, the hero’s journey, the history of typography, cinematography and lighting. The students have a wide-range of technical aptitudes and many are international students who are new to Canada. My teaching evaluations were some of the best this course has received, and I’ve been offered to teach the course again in winter 2019.


CBC Experience

Documentary Unit 2010-2015

In 2010 I began leading small teams of designers both in-house and contract to craft the look and feel of their in-house films for CBC’s Documentary Unit. The work spanned from pre-production to post- production—the entire film making process, working with all members of the production team, from producers, and writers, to directors and editors. All told I worked on over 60 documentary films at the CBC.

THE NATURE OF THINGS 2000-2010

In 2000 I became TNOT’s one-man-band designing all of the visual material for the series—opening titles, sets, promotional merchandise (i.e. buttons, t-shirts, posters), animated scientific illustrations and special effects.

CBC KIDS 1995-2000

After graduating from Sheridan’s 3D Animation Program, I was hired to join CBC Kids, where I designed on-air branding and creative content including puppets, logos, opening titles, and animated shorts. I was the first designer in Canada to create a virtual set. But the best part was receiving fan mail addressed to the puppets I animated live on-air from kids across Canada.


CBC Filmography

 

Love, Hate and Propaganda

 

The Giller Prize

 

Project X

The largest project  during my tenure in the Documentary Unit, Love, Hate and Propaganda was a 3-year series exploring the histories of the Second World War, The Cold War, and The War on Terror through the lens of propaganda. The 12 episodes in English and French produced in Montreal and Toronto, consumed the efforts pf the entire unit for 4 years. I led a large team of designers, animators, and effects artists to craft the look and feel of the series. From logos, and set design, to lighting and cinematography, I worked and advised the entire production.

The Giller Prize award ceremony had a problem—few attendees had read all of the books, making the whole endeavor an abstract exercise. Working with a small team I scripted, shot and edited a book trailer for each nominee. The trailers were a big hit at the ceremony and are now standard each year.

The Nature of Things was keen to attract a younger, more diverse viewership and in 2008 launched a mini-series called Project X. As creative director I helped craft the entire look and feel of the series. I designed the largest set ever constructed in the CBC Broadcast Centre Studio 40—a massive combination of laboratory and junkyard.

 

Awards

 

Haystack Mountain School of Craft

2018 Artist in Residence

 

Redpath Museum

2018 Artist in Residence

 

Ox-Bow School of Art

2017 Faculty in Residence

Anderson Ranch Arts Center

2014 Artist in Residence

 

OAC Mid-Career Film & Video Production Grant

2014 Follow the Bones

 

Yorkton Film FEstival

2014 Emerging Filmmaker Nominee

The Wassaic Project

2013 Artist in Residence

 

Gemini Awards

2010 Best Production Design Nominee

 

Toronto Urban Film Festival

2011 Best Local Film

 

Professional Associations

Documentary Organization of Canada

Member, 2016-

Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery,

Member, Board of Directors, 2016-

 

Professional Experience

Independent Filmmaker

While at the CBC I began making non- fiction shorts, mostly to test myself outside of the support of a vast corporation—could I do it on my own? When the Doc Unit shutdown in 2015, I decided to make independent documentaries full-time. The work involves intense fieldwork, sometimes travelling across North America. I handle just about everything in the films from shooting, sound recording, editing and effects to acquiring permits, insurance, and commissioning music.

 

The Redpath Museum, (ongoing 2018-)

The Redpath Museum on McGill’s campus is the oldest museum of natural history in Canada. I met the director of the museum, Dr. Hans Larsson on a dinosaur dig while filming Follow the Bones. Hans was leading a group of students from McGill and was eager to share his experiences as someone who works in the field and an in the lab. His enthusiasm is infectious and he invited us to spend a month at
the Redpath Museum in March 2018. We had full-access to the collection. We interviewed the curators and staff, and filmed the collection. In June 2018, we embarked on a field trip to shoot Hans and his team in Dinosaur Provincial Park. The material will be crafted into a hybrid art/documentary film that will be screened at the museum in the summer of 2019.

Follow the Bones, (ongoing 2014-)

 

Follow the Bones, a feature-length documentary, unravels the mystery of a 73 million year old bone bed—a place where hundreds of dinosaurs died en masse. Tucked into a cliff that overlooks Pipestone Creek in Northern Alberta, the story follows the bones through the hands of amateurs, archivists, palaeontologists, curators and exhibit designers. The bones, lost in the archives for close to a decade, rediscovered by a curious researcher and then painstakingly pieced together, tell us what it takes to build a world-class museum   in a town of 1,300 people.

 

The Canadian Clay& Glass Gallery at 25 Years, 2018

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Tara Cooper and I made a 15-minute documentary about the history of the gallery. The film focuses on 3 things—the award-winning building, the materiality of glass and ceramics, and the two founding figures, Ann Roberts and Win Shantz. The result was an emotional portrait of the museum that captures the spirit of its’ history, the people, the place and what it took to survive.

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