The Edge: Torill Kove, Animated Short-Films that go the distance

March 19, 2015 4 min read

Editor's note: For this Blog post I had the pleasure to chat via Skype with Torill Kove. Torill won an Oscar in 2007 for her animated short-film The Danish Poet.  Her first academy Award nomination was for My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts (2000), inspired by the story of her own grandmother who had ironed the shirts of Norway's King Haakon VII for many years.  Kove's 2014  animated short, Me and My Moulton was nominated for an Academy Award on January 15, 2015. Me and my Moulton is the autobiographical tale of what's it like to be raised by Modernist Architects. Now that I have your attention I am sure you will enjoy Torill's work and this interview…..


Novedge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Torill Kove: My name is Torill Kove and I am a short-film animator. I was born in Norway and I moved to Canada in the early eighties. Kove_Torill_3 - CopyPhoto credits Ida Meyn.

Novedge: How did you get where you are now, did you always wanted to become an animator?

Torill Kove:Originally I studied to become an urban planner; after working in that field for a few years I realized that I wasn't very good at being an urban planner, mostly because I didn't enjoy it that much. So I set out to look for something that I could do for a living that would make use of my passion for writing and drawing.  It was  a long  and  windy road that made me discover animation short-film making; after going back to school for a while I started working for the  National Film Board of Canada. It was the mid-nineties by then.  I have been with them on and off ever since, working on other people's films and also on my own. I also worked very closely with Norwegian animators from Studio Magica and Mikrofilm.

Novedge: After your short-film Me and my Moulton  "Architecture Parenting" became a genre.

Me and My Moulton – Official Trailer – English version from Mikrofilm AS on Vimeo.

After the film was done I realized how the theme of being raised by Architects started to resonate with the Architecture community.  I just wanted to describe a kind of  parental philosophy. Most parents raise their children following some sort of beliefs, and no matter what that philosophy is, it's bound to cause some clashes with the kids. 

Novedge: As much as there are drawbacks about being raised by Modernist Architects, there are sure many advantages……are there?

Torill Kove: Well……I always lived in very nice houses so I had great expectations for the way I would live as an adult. What my parents achieved with their level of taste was mostly taken for granted back then. Now I feel that even if I can't design the grand house I envisioned (especially in the current real estate market in Montreal) I like to think that the way  my apartment is decorated, reflects what I grew up with. My parents' sense of aesthetics really shaped me.

Redesigning Christmas from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

Novedge: What software do you use?

Torill Kove:For animation I use a software called ToonBoom Harmony and I am also doubling in TV Paint. I also use Photoshopa lot and occasionally I use it for animation as well. 

Novedge: Do you use other media to express your creativity? 

Torill Kove:I also illustrate books. I have written and illustrated three books for children and I worked as an illustrator for other writers.

Novedge: You are a great storyteller,where do you get your inspiration?

Torill Kove: It depends. I don't think it comes for one place in particular. Memories get stored and then I access them for particular themes. I really get inspired by music and I read a lot. In fact I read way more that I watch…..

Novedge: What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in animation?

Torill Kove:Like for any other artistic pursuit try to figure out what your voice is . Finding a voice is a long process and it doesn't happen overnight but staying tuned to what you want to say and the way you want to say it should be a primary goal. 

Novedge: What is the best advice you have been given?

You know how they say 'do what you love and money will follow'? People have told me that many times. I think that's just a blatant lie! There are so many people in the world who do what they love and never make any money. I think it's more important to work hard and don't give up; and also have long term goals. And never underestimate the importance of being a nice person and being a good colleague to the people you are working with. You very rarely work in a vacuum and it's important to forge solid relationships with the people working alongside you. For a few years I taught at university and I realized that in my classes there were lots of really good animators (animation is a skill you can learn if you set your mind to it) but all these other qualities that you need in order to be a good film maker are a little harder to come by. As a teacher I tended to remember the students that were polite, friendly and collegial.

Novedge: You won an Oscar for the animated-short The Danish Poet.Where do you keep it?

Torill Kove: I keep it in a cabinet with a glass door in my dining room, where I can see it but I don't have to look at it all the time.


Animation, Architecture and great Storytelling. Here at Novedge we call this a perfect storm. If you are already a fan of Torill's check out her page for Me and my Moulton.

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