Hothouse 14: Call to animation artists

Hothouse 14 banner


The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is seeking submissions from emerging animation creators for the 14th edition of Hothouse. This edition will offer a three-month paid mentorship in all-inclusive, real-world animation filmmaking, in the unique tradition of NFB animation.

We’re looking for six new talents who are willing and able to jump head-first into this intensive experience.

The theme this year is: Small Things Considered.

About this edition

Hothouse 14 is available to participants working in the location of their choice, anywhere in Canada. Participants who reside close to the NFB offices in Montreal or Vancouver are welcome to work from there if they wish. Most of the program will be conducted remotely. To the best of our ability, equipment will be provided to all participants.

All participants must be willing and able to travel to Montreal for one week of orientation, from September 25–29, 2023, and again for one week of post-production, December 11–15, 2023. Travel will be arranged and paid for by the NFB.

Hothouse is about reimagining ways of making animation—ways that are faster and more flexible, and that embrace the many possibilities of the animation process while achieving creative and technical excellence.


Alexandra Lemay, ALL THE RAGE (Hothouse 10). Credit: Vanessa Quintanilla Cobo


Lukas Conway, BANG (Hothouse 13). Credit: Lukas Conway


Noncedo Khumalo, 100 GHOSTS (Hothouse 13). Credit: Noncedo Khumalo

Team and timeline

Producer: Maral Mohammadian

Associate Producer: Anne Koizumi

Mentoring Director: Andrea Dorfman

NFB Animation & Interactive Studio team

Hothouse 14 production crew


Application deadline: 5 p.m. EST on Monday, July 10, 2023

Program dates: September 25–December 15, 2023

Orientation and pre-production: September 25–29, 2023

Production: October 2–December 1, 2023

Post-production and wrap: December 4–15, 2023

Theme and technique

“Small Things Considered” is this edition’s theme.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and originality. Show us who you are as an artist or storyteller. The theme can be taken literally but is wide open to interpretation. This is the perfect platform to showcase your abilities and be imaginative.

You can propose any animation technique that’s feasible within the Hothouse framework and with which you have experience.

It’s important to reveal a thoughtful relationship between your concept and your chosen technique, whether it’s hand-drawn, stop motion, 3D CGI, collage, mixed media, etc.

We’re open to ideas that involve interactive or real-time elements, such as Unity, Unreal, motion capture, XR (VR, MR, AR), Machinima, data visualization, processing, etc. However, you must demonstrate a thoughtful reason behind the use of the technology and enough know-how to make it viable.

Your proposal must illustrate that you have the necessary skills or experience to execute the project as proposed. Project viability is a key deciding factor in the selection process.

The film must be completed in the allotted three-month time frame.

Submission criteria

Submissions must include:

  • an outline of your idea and intent, artistic approach, and motivation for participating in Hothouse 14. This outline can be EITHER in the form of a one-page written statement OR a maximum three-minute video—whichever format you’re most comfortable with;
  • an explanation of your interpretation/approach to the theme. Don’t be afraid to play with it;
  • an explanation of the relationship between your concept and technique or approach;
  • a brief description of your work environment (i.e., is it a home studio? Is it in a film co-op or community centre? Is it private or a shared space?);
  • a description of all the equipment you have and anything you might need from us (i.e., computer specs, hardware, software, drawing table, digital tablet, props, cameras, specialized equipment, materials, work space, etc.);
  • two or three design samples (to demonstrate the look and feel of your piece);
  • a short bio and a one-page résumé or CV.

Submit all text and images in ONE PDF with file name FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_HOTHOUSE14.

  • one example of a previous film (animation or otherwise) not longer than five minutes, or an excerpt from a previous film, no more than five minutes in length. You can also send a portfolio or reel. Media must be submitted as a URL. Do not send hard copies. If you don’t have a finished film, don’t worry, but make sure you highlight what you can do in your outline and design samples. Or, if you can, create a short animation test to showcase your skills. The submission form will allow you to paste a maximum of three URL links.

The NFB is committed to greater diversity and inclusion in Canadian cinema and new media. In keeping with the commitments outlined in the NFB’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, you are invited to express in your proposal if you identify as Indigenous, Black, racialized or part of an underrepresented group.

Submissions must be received using our online form by 5 p.m. EST on Monday, July 10, 2023. The six successful candidates will be notified by Friday, July 21, 2023.

We are available to answer any questions or provide clarification on the project or its criteria. Please contact Associate Producer Anne Koizumi at

Selection criteria

We are looking for:

  • strength of idea;
  • strength of art or design;
  • your ability with the chosen animation technique;
  • your conviction of vision and creative maturity;
  • your point of view as a creator;
  • your willingness to embrace the Hothouse experience.


Submissions are accepted from across Canada. Hothouse is an NFB English Program initiative and therefore English proficiency is important. However, we accept proposals in both official languages.

You must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident (no exceptions);
  • be an emerging filmmaker (meaning less than three films made);
  • have experience in animation filmmaking or a related field (i.e., fine arts, film, graphic design, photography, electronic arts, computational arts, etc.);
  • be open and willing to learn and explore;
  • be prepared to commit for the period of three months.


  • Propose the film you want to make, not the film you think the NFB might like.
  • In your proposal, pay attention to the clarity of idea and intent. If you’re unsure about something, let us know, and explain why and what you intend to do about it.
  • Ambiguity is not a virtue in a proposal. Cinema is a two-way conversation, so someone other than yourself must be able to understand/feel/appreciate/be intrigued by what you’re conveying.
  • Remote production is not meant to be a challenge to the social virtues of Hothouse nor a shift toward a more independent production model. The goal is to give access to people who cannot relocate.
  • Become familiar with Hothouse. Watch the previous films here.
  • Be sure to read the Rules and Regulations for an understanding of what we expect from you and what you can expect from us.

Rules and regulations

Hothouse participants will direct an animated short, maximum one minute in length, going from creative inception all the way through to final sound mix and video release in three intensive months. We provide—within reasonable limits of budget and availability—the tools, resources and support to master this challenge with the Hothouse 14 production team and within the filmmaking community of the NFB.

By submitting a proposal, participants agree to these expectations:

  • Each Hothouse participant receives a fixed artist’s fee of $13,000.
  • Participants must be able and prepared to work beginning September 25 and until December 15, 2023.
  • Projects can use digital or analog techniques and must be no more than one minute in length. They must respect the parameters of Hothouse, including available resources and expertise in the Animation Studio.
  • Participants must be prepared to work with the Hothouse production team, which includes the associate producer, mentoring director, producer, technical director, technical coordinators, production coordinators, composer, sound designer, editor, marketing manager and administrator.
  • Participants must be prepared to engage fully, which includes mandatory work-in-progress reviews, discussions with producers and mentor, crew and marketing/distribution colleagues, interacting with the larger NFB filmmaking community and contributing frequently to NFB social media platforms.
  • Participation with and inclusion in any behind-the-scenes promotional content is granted by all Hothouse participants in acceptance of the Hothouse offer.
  • Adherence to five locked delivery dates: offer response, concept lock, picture-edit lock, final mix and online mastering.
  • Any travel arrangements for those living outside the Greater Montreal area will be made by the NFB.
  • Projects shall be subject to the NFB standards for production and distribution, which includes the applicable collective agreements. Hothouse participants will retain copyright in the script material in accordance with the terms of the WGC scale agreements.

About the program

Hothouse is a mentorship program for emerging Canadian filmmakers. It was created in 2003 by NFB Animation Studio Producer Michael Fukushima and Executive Producer David Verrall. The aim is to create animation more quickly and with more flexibility in celebration of the shortest of short forms, while maintaining the hallmarks of NFB animation: creative and technical excellence.

This is not “quick and dirty” but rather “intense and amazing.” Think of horticultural hothouses where gardeners create optimal growing conditions to encourage the flowering of exotic orchids and other blooms in weeks rather than months.

Hothouse is not a funding program nor school: it is a mentorship in real-world animation filmmaking, with the NFB as producer and distributor.

Animation at the NFB

Initiated by Norman McLaren in 1941, animation filmmaking at the NFB has been recognized as a cornerstone of NFB production, garnering many international awards for excellence and innovation. Today, the NFB maintains a commitment to eclectic techniques and the experimental exploration of animation as art. The diverse range of artistic visions at the NFB reflects the passion and imagination of their creators, offering audiences novel styles, methods, subjects and cultures from across the country.

Questions? Reach out to our Associate Producer Anne Koizumi at

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