088: Intersection: Lillian Chan, Filmmaker

Updated: Jan 16


In the previous episode, we met Alison Zou who shared how she entered into the tattoo industry, the technicalities of fine-line tattooing and what her own, personal tattoos mean to her. She also discussed the research that’s needed before she begins creating her art and today’s guest agrees.


Allow me to officially introduce you to today’s guest: Lillian Chan.


Lillian Chan is a Toronto-based animator and filmmaker. With a focus on children’s content and programming, she designs for clients like Disney, Kid Koala and Nelvana. Her short films have won several awards including the Public Prize at both the Ottawa International Film Festival and Anima Mundi in Brazil. Along with short films, she has worked on independent features, animated documentaries, and most recently, interactive VR. Lillian is a recent graduate of the Master of Digital Media program at X University. Her research focuses on the use of cozy games and character-driven storyworlds to create effective tools for paediatric voice therapy.


In our conversation, Lillian and I discuss her creative work for children and adults alike, her non-linear creative process and the deep appreciation she feels when she experiences moments of solitude to create.


Key Ideas Discussed:

  • Illustrator, animator, filmmaker, educator at Seneca at York in animation program

  • National Film Board - created a film with Bruce Mau

  • She recently finished her Master's degree

  • Creating tools with voice therapists, game design - game box (prototype)

  • Her kids help her with her work - helped her come up with the names for her characters for her master's degree; helped her draw evolutionary tree

  • Simple, child-like quality to her work

  • Her artistic style is "cute", nuanced, subtle, soft and gentle quality to her work

  • Non-linear creative process - the projects are all different in their nature, a lot of moving parts (problem solving aspect)

  • Visual thinker - needing to see things written down on a large sheet of paper; filtering brain onto visual page

  • Takes a week or two weeks for the idea to begin to form

  • Go to sleep and ideas will come!

  • Creating ideas and artwork - the possibility of creating something

  • She feels she has time now that her kids are in school to have freedom to create

  • She sometimes forgets how much she loves her work

  • She appreciates this time so much more now than she before she had kids

  • The hardest thing about her work is doing it while also being present with her family

  • She feels the pull of family and professional life; you have to let your own ego go a little bit to make this balance work

  • She's always had a home studio that's in the middle of her home life

  • In an ideal world she would make things that get her excited; time to make these things

  • She savours designing things that are useful


Among many insights gained, Lillian reminds us about how great it feels to have complete creative control over a project. In the next episode we meet Sarah Wright, a photographer who shares Lillian’s feelings about the joy of creative control and the power of trust.


Stay tuned…


Secondary podcast episode art that contains the text ‘Episode 088 Intersection: Lillian Chan, Filmmaker’ on a blue background and half of a yellow paper boat.

A short animated gif from her film with Bruce Mau, entitled ‘The Big Reset - Cities’.

The first is a digital illustration that depicts Lillian Chan’s point of intersection between ‘research’ and ‘creative control’. There are two overlapping circles connecting these themes and a straight line connecting her to the place where these circles meet. When connected with the 16 other artists these circles form a map.

The complete map of the colourful, intersecting circles that represent the 17 artists and their connections to one another.

About Our Guest:

A photo of Lillian with short, dark hair looking into the camera, peeking out from behind a xylophone.

Lillian Chan is a Toronto-based animator and filmmaker. With a focus on children’s content and programming, she designs for clients like Disney, Kid Koala and Nelvana. Her short films have won several awards including the Public Prize at both the Ottawa International Film Festival and Anima Mundi in Brazil. Along with short films, she has worked on independent features, animated documentaries, and most recently, interactive VR. Lillian is a recent graduate of the Master of Digital Media program at X University. Her research focuses on the use of cozy games and character-driven storyworlds to create effective tools for paediatric voice therapy.



Music (public domain via Free Music Archive): Chad Crouch - Rainbow


Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo byAlex onUnsplash

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