McLaren, Norman (1914–87) By Kotte, Claudia
Born in Scotland, Norman McLaren was a filmmaker and one of the most inventive creators of animation films. His career is closely connected to the animation studio at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), where he worked from 1941 to 1984. All in all, he made some fifty films in a stunning range of styles and techniques. McLaren attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1932 to 1936. While specializing in interior design he joined a filmmaking club, discovered the works of Pudovkin and Eisenstein, and made his first films. For lack of a camera and unexposed film, he experimented with old prints and painted colored ink directly onto the frames. John Grierson, the then director of the British General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit and a documentary filmmaker himself, discovered McLaren when being adjudicator at the Glasgow Amateur Film Festival in 1936 and offered him a job at his unit in London. While learning documentary filmmaking at the GPO, McLaren continued his experiments with sound and movement. During a stint in Spain where he covered the Civil War as cameraman, he developed his life-long abhorrence of war.