Sometimes even the best-laid plans go astray, but for Kyle Sharpe, the opposite was true.
The Twillingate native discovered he had creative talents which would eventually lead towards a rewarding career.
While Kyle spent hours as a child drawing and doodling characters, he admits deciding to pursue animation as a career path was not an easy choice.
“I was caught between two very different career choices — animation or acting,” he said. “I decided animation had the potential as a career path, and I like the idea of creating something of your own from nothing.”
Kyle was drawn to art and films from a young age; however, his career truly started after he graduated from College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Digital Animation program in 2012.
Since then, he has worked on several animation projects. His first independent short film, Astray, was recognized at the Nickel Independent Film Festival.
“I was both surprised and honoured to get recognized with the Best Animation Award at the Nickel Independent Film Festival,” he said. “My favourite directors, Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, have been a strong influence on my work. The inspiration for the film featured at the Nickel (festival) was to create a short film that captured the horror theme with a different freaky look.”
The film went through many changes from what he originally envisioned, but he knew one thing for certain – the title was always going to be Astray.
“There used to be a stray cat in the film, so it was partially a play on that. But it was also simply a film about losing your way or ending up in a strange place. The cat connection still kind of exists. I like to think of the girl as the cat that curiosity killed. Plus, she has cat faces on her stockings!”
One key element of the film was his use of the butterfly. And while he feels it is an overused motif, Kyle explains that it emoted several messages for the audience.
“I liked the idea of the butterfly misleading the character with a false sense of beauty/playfulness, and ultimately trapping her in a horrific place,” he says. “I’m sure that has been done before, but I thought it was more interesting than the typical, ‘Oh, there’s a butterfly in the film because the girl is a delicate butterfly herself’.”
Astray is Sharpe’s first independent short film and will always be a milestone to celebrate.
“The film definitely had a fair share of challenges. Honestly, I did a lot of experimenting and learned a lot,” he said. “Originally the film featured my friend as the actress, and all the animation was done on top of her footage. which gave me a lot of ideas of the physical space of the film world. She also helped create the look of the character, and all the backdrops are pictures of Halifax stitched together.”
Daisy Under the Moon
As a follow up to the success of his film, Sharpe turned his talents to the written word. His debut novel Daisy Under the Moon was published in April 2021.
“The book endeavour was a major dream of mine that I’m happy to have fulfilled,” he said.
In his book, Sharpe explores the relationship between Bryce and Juniper, a young couple who are put to the test when an accident causes them to rely on the kindness of strangers.
Sharpe credits his first film with allowing him to be able to explore other mediums.
“Certainly my short film was a stepping stone toward finding the confidence to put something out into the world for others to critique, but I find experimenting with totally different forms of storytelling/art is what keeps life interesting for me, regardless of if I ever find glowing success with any one thing,” he said.
Sharing his first-hand experience of being a student, a successful animation professional and author, Sharpe is very thankful to have met some amazing people who taught him the tricks of the trade.
“Transitioning from a student to a professional has been an amazing adventure; maybe because I was never afraid to network and open to trying new things,” he said. “Currently, I work for a children’s television studio called Island of Misfits in Halifax. I love what I do, and my work revolves around a lot of computer graphics and 3D animation for children’s shows.”
He says he is determined to make more films to feature at the Nickel Independent Film Festival and other film festivals across the province.
“Creating a film of my own has been a dream for the longest time, and with the recognition my first film has received — I feel things are moving along and I would like to make more as a long-term goal, for sure.”
He says that he would encourage others to pursue their passions.
“Don’t be afraid to explore something what you really enjoy. Be confident and keep following your dreams.”