July 31, 1943|
|Died||February 14, 2007
|Years active||1964 - 2007|
Ryan Larkin (July 31, 1943, Montreal, Quebec – February 14, 2007, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec) was a Canadian animator, artist, and sculptor who rose to fame with the psychedelic 1969 Oscar-nominated short Walking and the acclaimed Street Musique (1972). He was the subject of the Oscar-winning film Ryan.
Larkin attended the Art School of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where he studied under Arthur Lismer (a member of the Group of Seven) before starting to work at the National Film Board of Canada in the early 1960s.
At the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Larkin learned animation techniques from the ground-breaking and award-winning animator Norman McLaren. He made two acclaimed short animated films, Syrinx (1965) and Cityscape (1966), before going on to create Walking (1969). Walking was nominated for an Academy Award in 1970 in the category Best Short Subject, Cartoon, but lost to It's Tough to Be a Bird by director Ward Kimball. He went on to direct the award-winning short Street Musique, which premiered in 1972 and would be the last of his works, finished during his lifetime.
He also contributed art work and animation effects to NFB films including the 1974 feature Running Time, directed by Mort Ransen, in which Larkin also played three bit parts.
Larkin left the NFB in 1978.
Ryan, the film
In later years Larkin was plagued by a downward spiral of drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness, but towards the end of his life found himself back in the limelight when a 14-minute computer-animated documentary on his life, Ryan by fellow Canadian animator Chris Landreth, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and screened to acclaim at film festivals around the world. Alter Egos (2004), directed by Laurence Green, is a documentary about the making of Ryan that includes interviews with both Larkin and Chris Landreth as well as with various people who knew Larkin at the peak of his own success.
As of 2002, Larkin had been working with composer Laurie Gordon of the band Chiwawa on a new animated film entitled Spare Change, his first auteur film in 35 years. Together they formed Spare Change Productions and were seeking funding for the film through Gordon's production company MusiVision. They received grants from Bravo!FACT, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and SODEC but were still short of financing. MusiVision and the National Film Board of Canada went into co-production only after Larkin's death. Spare Change premiered at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 9, 2008. Spare Change features three CHIWAWA tunes for which Larkin created storyboards and animation, including Do It For Me from the 2005 release Bright. A new CHIWAWA album Bus Stop Chinese Buffet will include tracks from Spare Change including Overcast Skies whose lyrics were penned by Larkin, and part of a group of Larkin poems - Beat Poems For Grandkids. MusiVision is also producing a documentary for CTV Television about Ryan's final years and his comeback to his art. A feature version will also be released. Larkin, who had panhandled outside Montreal Schwartz's deli, appeared briefly in a documentary on the famous restaurant, Chez Schwartz, directed by Garry Beitel 
In December 2006, Larkin created three five-second bumpers for MTV in Canada, a preview to Spare Change. Larkin said that he had given up some bad habits, including drinking, in order to better focus on his animating career.
- "Alter Egos". NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- chiwawa. "CHIWAWA's 1st projectopus entry - DIGGIT". Project Opus Technologies. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
- Nestruck, J. Kelly (2006-09-28). "May the Schwartz be with you". National Post. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
- "Ryan Larkin Dies at Age 63". AWN, Inc. 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
- Ryan Larkin at the Internet Movie Database
- Ryan Larkin at the NFB (watch Street Musique and Walking for free)
- Official website of the upcoming "Spare Change" film (includes contact information)
- Animation World Magazine - Last Exit on St. Laurent Street
- NFB Web page for the animated short Ryan
- NFB Web page for the documentary Alter Egos
- Film Reference Library biography