Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

Al Sens

(b. December 27, 1933 Vancouver, British Columbia)

Independent animator Al Sens contributed short stories and cartoons to American and Canadian magazines under a pseudonym before founding his own studio, Al Sens Animation, in Vancouver in 1958. He has been the undisputed leader of the West Coast animation scene ever since, amassing an impressive body of politically conscious films and encouraging the development of young talent.

Though Sens attended the Vancouver School of Art, his animation skills are self-taught, and his films are distinguished by their acerbic wit and zany style. He has developed what he calls the “spit technique,” which consists of drawing and erasing directly under the camera to lend a sense of vitality to the image and the movement. He has also combined live action and animation and made use of contrapuntal sound, evidenced by perhaps the best example of his work, The See Hear Talk Think Dream and Act Film (1965).

Al Sens Animation – which owns the only animation stand in Vancouver outside of the NFB – provides computer animation services and special effects and has done opening credit images for a number of films, including the Canadian-made Wesley Snipes feature Act of War (1998) and Keith Behrman’s acclaimed debut Flower & Garnet (2002). Sens himself still actively produces his own films, evidenced by the recent Dreamtime (1999) and A Courtship for Our Time (2001).

Film and video work includes

The Puppet's Dream, 1958 (director; animator)
The Rare Bird, 1958 (director; animator)
Playground, 1960 (director; producer)
The Sorcerer, 1962 (director)
The Pedlar of Poesy, 1963 (director; animator)
The Peripatetic Patient, 1965 (director)
Henry, 1966 (director; animator)
Man and Machine, 1966 (director; animator)
The Brotherhood, 1967 (director; producer)
The Coming of Age of an Unidentified Man and His Land, 1967 (director)
I've Never Seen Anything Like It, 1967 (director; animator)
Reality in Revolt, 1967 (director)
DNA, 1969 (co-writer with Bané Jovanovic, Guy Glover; co-animator with Robert Doucet, Suzanne Olivier)
Where There's Smoke, 1970 (co-director with Don Arioli, Reg Dougherty, Wolf Koenig et al.; co-animator with Wolf Koenig, Kaj Pindal, Michael Mills et al.)
Tilt, 1972 (co-animator with Les Drew, Terence Harrison, Michael Mills et al.)
An Unidentified Man, 1972 (director; writer; producer)
Une journée dans la vie de Ramikelle, 1973 (director; animator)
The Twitch, 1974 (director; co-animator with Wayne Morris)
The Bureaucracy, 1974 (director)
Physical Fitness - The New Perspective, 1974 (director)
Once or Twice Upon a Time and Thrice Upon a Space, 1975 (director; editor; cinematographer; animator)
A Quiet Day in an Imaginary Place, 1976 (director)
A Hard Day at the Office, 1977 (director; animator)
An Interview with Ivan Shusikov, 1977 (director; co-animator with Shigeko Sens)
Captain Cook, 1978 (animation camera)
Logger, 1978 (director; animator)
Problems on an Imaginary Farm, 1978 (director; animator)
Funny Cow, 1980 (animator)
Thoughts in a Landscape, 1981 (director; writer; producer)
The Pacific Connection: The Ties That Bound, 1982 (animator)
Acting Out, 1983 (director; writer; producer; animator)
Caring for the Future, 1985 (animator)
Nuclear Follies, 1985 (animator)
The Velveteen Rabbit, 1985 (co-cinematographer with Tom Brydon, Ron Haines, Jan Topper; TV)
Getting There, 1986 (co-animator with Paul Driessen, Dieter Mueller; Danny Antonucci)
Never Give Up on a Dream, 1986 (animator)
The Traingang, 1986 (co-animator with Paul Driessen, Dieter Mueller; Danny Antonucci)
Political Animals, 1991 (director; writer; producer; animator)
Deadly Deposits, 1993 (production artist; co-animator with Russsell Crispin, Shelly
McIntosh, John Pagan, et al.)
StaleMates, 1998 (title designer)
Dreamtime, 1999 (director; animator, producer)
A Courtship for Our Time, 2001 (director; animator, producer)