Collin Tsandilis is an animation grad who worked alongside a team of animators on the Oscar-winning short animation film Hair Love. Photo credit: Supplied by Collin Tsandilis

An Algonquin animation grad worked on the team for the film Hair Love, which won the 2020 Academy Award for best animated short film.

Collin Tsandilis was a student at Algonquin from 2006 to 2009. He first started out in the one-year pre-animation program to prepare for the animation program.

“At the time, there were no internships in the program and students would end up finding summer work,” said Tsandilis. “But, companies would want to keep you around for longer, so it was difficult for some people to finish the program.”

Neil Hunter, one of the coordinators of the animation program, recognized Tsandilis back then as a hard-working student. He is proud to see him flourish.

“Collin has really found his place in the studio and has put in tons of hours, gone above and beyond and is driven for success,” said Hunter. “It’s nice to see our students getting recognition for their hard work and we’re very proud of them.”

Shortly after graduating, Tsandilis began working with Big Jump Entertainment on a show called The Secret World of Benjamin Bear. His role was to digitally clean up the “rough animation” and he eventually moved up into animation.

When he and two others were assigned to help work on the Hair Love project, it was short notice. The project required that they’d need to leave Ottawa for Los Angeles just two days later.

“My wife was pregnant at the time, so I had to make sure she would be okay if I went,” he said.

Tsandilis worked alongside other animators on the short for two weeks in California.

“Despite the stress and time crunch, I’m very happy to have been a part of the team,” he said. “I saw the importance of the piece and how much passion people had while working on it, and it got me excited.”

Rather than being pressed against his television screen at the time the Oscars were being handed out, Tsandilis was celebrating something else.

“I was holding my newborn daughter as they announced it, so it was a very special moment,” he said.

Tsandilis is currently working on a project coming out on Netflix later this year. With the effects of Covid-19, he is working from home with access to a system used at the studio.

“It’s a little slower, but it gets the job done,” he said.