The NFB is committed to respecting your privacy

We use cookies to ensure that our site works efficiently, as well as for advertising purposes.

If you do not wish to have your information used in this way, you can modify your browser settings before continuing your visit.

Learn more
Creative Process: Norman McLaren

Creative Process: Norman McLaren

| 1 h 56 min

This feature length documentary is a journey into Norman McLaren’s process of artistic creation. A cinematic genius who made films without cameras and music without instruments, McLaren produced 60 films in a stunning range of styles and techniques, collecting over 200 international awards and world recognition. Drawing on McLaren's private film vaults, a gold mine of experimental footage and uncompleted films, this film explores McLaren's methods, including his celebrated "pixillation" technique.

  • director
    Donald McWilliams
  • editing
    Donald McWilliams
  • producer
    David Verrall
  • executive producer
    Douglas MacDonald
  • script
    Donald McWilliams
    Susan Huycke
  • cinematography
    Pierre Letarte
    Jacques Leduc
  • animation camera
    Pierre Landry
    Jacques Avoine
    Barry Wood
    Robin L.P. Bain
  • sound
    Yves Gendron
    Hans Oomes
    Esther Auger
    Richard Besse
  • sound editing
    Raymond Vermette
    Tony Reed
  • re-recording
    Adrian Croll
  • narrator
    Susan Huycke
  • music
    Eldon Rathburn


Enjoy the NFB experience on your favourite device. 


Ages 16 to 18

Study Guides - Guide 1 | Guide 2

Media Education - Documentary Film
Media Education - Film Animation
Media Education - Film and Video Production

Warning (if any): Some violent imagery (more abstract)

Brief “lesson launcher type” activity or a series of inquiry questions with a bit of context:

Documentary exploring the films, art and ideas of Norman McLaren.

McLaren says that if he had computers at his disposal, he would have used them immediately. If McLaren was born in the modern age, do you think he would have the same level of creativity? Is it more difficult to be creative in modern times since more has been done and we have a record of it?

Are the animation techniques McLaren describes still commonly used? What is the value of animating by hand? What elements of it do we use today or have we stopped using, and why?

How are McLaren’s films linked to music and dance, as he explains? What connections do you see between the different types of media?

Picasso was said to have enjoyed McLaren’s film Hen Hop. What do you think he would have found most interesting or enjoyable about the film?

Is film still a new medium with very few traditions? What has changed since McLaren’s time? He describes painting as a dying medium. Do you agree with this statement?

How do different political events influence art? For McLaren, how did different periods of political and social turmoil affect his art?

Reflecting on McLaren’s career in film, analyze whether his repertoire matures or changes over time. How is Narcissism a reflection on his life as an artist? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that narcissists can contribute meaningfully to the art world? Can narcissists contribute in similar ways to other parts of society? Why or why not?

Creative Process: Norman McLaren
Purchase options
Also available
Already paid to see this film?

Embed this code on your site

Video player width

by Reset