Former Pixar animator and director Frank E. Abney III made history last month after debuting his very first short animated film, “Canvas,” on Netflix’s global streaming platform.
With #Canvas, I wanted to take something we all experience (loss) and create something hopeful. We’re constantly dragged down- we KNOW that feeling all too well. But hopefully after watching the short film, you leave with a full heart 😊.
— Frank Abney (@iFrankAbney) December 18, 2020
The film — which features carefully animated Black characters — tells a story of how a family is able to overcome grief, drawing inspiration from people Abney surrounds himself with.
Abney first pitched the film to a studio he was working with back in 2014 but had to wait to get back the rights for the film after he parted ways with the company.
His film idea immediately went viral two years ago after teasing a trailer of the animation on social media and has since been regarded as a labor of love project that’s been six years in the making, according to Variety.
I want to introduce you all to the character I teased recently from my shortfilm… Again, I couldn’t do this w/o my talented team of artists! Huge S/O to @TB_sojinchoi (design), @Dekren (modeling), & #ThalesSimonato on the Hair work. #Film #Art #Filmmaking #CanvasFilm #Animation pic.twitter.com/LQFhEXk94z
— Frank Abney (@iFrankAbney) April 27, 2018
Because of Them We Can shares that after dropping this teaser trailer, Abney then launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production. His campaign reportedly brought in more than $62,000 from 38 backers — over $20,000 more than its initial goal to make the film.
According to Black Business, Abney — who also worked as an executive producer on Matthew A. Cherry’s award-winning short film “Hair Love” — recruited the likes of several different writers and artists from across three continents to help make his film happen.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Abney 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. 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.”
Even without a huge promotional push from Netflix, Abney was finally able to make his directorial debut this month with tons of support via social media.
Why am I up here balling watching Canvas on Netflix. It's so sweet and well done. This lil girl looks like me 🥺
Black animation is so slept on and that's a damn shame.
— Taryn Finley (@_TARYNitUP) December 16, 2020
Watching Canvas on Netflix because this is the man behind it and it’s gotten no promotion. Didn’t even show up in my recently added list. pic.twitter.com/mDjm9ksINw
— Baby This Is Keke Wyatt (@itz_travy) December 15, 2020
Some of my favorite animated shorts this year so far.
Cops And Robbers (Netflix) pic.twitter.com/T28scVdfFc
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) December 19, 2020
With a vision in mind, Abney was able to translate his animation and filmmaking skills into storytelling and made history while doing so.
Canvas is now available to watch on Netflix.
For more information about Frank Abney, click here.