Jerry Auld moved to the Bow Valley decades ago for ice, rock and alpine climbing. He is now a co-owner of Imaginary Mountain Surveyors with Dustin Lynx and has a new animated short-film called Thyself that is screening at international film festivals. We touched base with Auld in Canmore.

Tyself, an animated film by Jerry Auld

Thyself, an animated film by Jerry Auld

How long have you been animating films? Three years now. I’ve been working in graphics for a long time but only recently started to seriously try storytelling in that way.

Where did Thyself premiere? At the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Festival, opening weekend.

How many festivals has it played at? Four, with upcoming appearances at the Flagstaff Mountain Festival in February and right after that the Festival Gorniškega Filma in Slovenia. It’s also slated to show at the We Like ‘Em Short festival in Oregon, which is nice that a mountain film is getting some exposure outside of the hills. It’s under consideration for a lot of others in spring 2017.

What was the motivation for the film? I’d read Pierre Burton’s history of the Yukon gold rush while up in Kluane eight years ago and was intrigued by “an old tale” he related about the motivation to search for gold. It stuck with me but it wasn’t a novel or even a short story. It was a fable.

I was searching for a way to tell that story, so I adapted some animation techniques I was working with to try and see how close I could come to an ethereal dream-like imagining I had of the fable.

A still from the animated film Thyself

A still from the animated film Thyself

How long did it take to create? Like all projects, the idea in your head is so clear that you think it’ll be a few weeks of joyful time in front of the computer. But like all projects, you quickly realize that ideas on the screen are not anywhere as fully formed as our internal applause makes us imagine.

And the work of getting birds to flock properly, or light to refract through ice in a realistic way, or cramponed boot prints in snow to look like they were freshly made becomes consuming. It made me look at the daily climb or run or hike in a different, more detailed, manner. So, yeah, 10 months later I had six minutes of footage I was happy with.

Are you working on any others right now? Yes, I’m working on a history of Canmore as told through animated maps, and a short climbing narrative told from the point of view of pieces of pro. I like animation because you can go places that a normal camera can’t. And it is way cheaper than a helicopter.

Watch the short film below of Auld’s animated story about Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies.