Meet Frank Abney, an animator for Pixar who has made his directorial debut of his first animated short film called Canvas on Netflix. The film, which features expertly and beautifully animated African American characters, is a story of how a family is able to overcome grief. He says the film was inspired by the stories of the people around him.
In 2014, Abney first thought of the idea and pitched it to a studio he was working for at the time. So, he had to wait to get back the rights for the film after he left the company. The project has been five years in the making and fans were only given a sneak peek two years ago, which immediately went viral.
He started a Kickstarter campaign to help raise at least $20,000 to make the film. It received another $62,000 from 38 additional backers.
Canvas, which is about a grandfather who is trying to regain his inspiration after suffering a loss, tells a relatable heartwarming story. Abney shared he found inspiration from several sources, including his grandfather, whom he described as stoic and quiet, his mother, who were widowed when he was 5-years old, and his niece, who could bring joy without trying.
Abney, who was also an executive producer on Matthew Cherry’s award-winning short film Hair Love, worked with several writers and artists from across three continents to make the film happen.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he told Atlanta Black Star. “We were just working on this in our spare time, and you don’t know where these things are going to go…But I’m just I’m so thankful to be partnering with Netflix and being able to share it with a broad audience. My ultimate goal is I just want people to be inspired by it and also just understand that there are Black filmmakers out there.”