Exclusive – Dam – The Story of Kit the Beaver

Canada will soon be celebrating it’s 150th birthday. In commemoration of the event the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has commissioned Kjell Boersma to create an animation representing our beautiful diverse country. I was fortunate enough to connect with Kjell in Toronto via skype to learn about this epic opportunity.


“How did you get involved and eventually chosen to create this animation?”

“TIFF had organized the call for submissions. Once all submissions had been considered, it was narrowed down to four. I then had to pitch my concept to a jury. The winner was announced shortly after TIFF.”


The great composer Kjell was partnered with is Erica Procunier. Josh Clavir is the producer and Julie Flett is the art director. Seneca College were so gracious with their generosity by partnering up with the production to provide software, work space and animation students. Ten students contributed their talents, as well as four graduates. Kjell expresses his gratitude for the Colleges dedication and commitment to the animation. They were essential in helping to meet the deadline.


“This is the first project I’ve worked on where additional outside resources were available. It made the experience more enjoyable.”


I was privileged to have the honor of viewing the animation, Dam. It’s a light-hearted story of Kit the beaver helping his dad build a dam on a fast running river. As the story unfolds, a variety of diverse animals become involved and friendships are formed.

There is no dialogue in the film. Instead, the music created by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra acts as a interpreter for the animals. It’s an incredible piece of music that compliments the animation as much as blood compliments our bodies. They need each other to work.

The budget for the film was 60,000.00 and could not exceed fifteen minutes.


“Did you have to do any research for this film to help create the concept?”

“I actually watched a lot of beaver documentaries as well as films on different landscapes. I wanted it to reflect what Canada represents without getting to political.”


Kjell started the process in May and had completed the bulk of the work by September. The TSO required a leica reel to be able to start composing the music.

The film will premiere at Roy Thomson Hall with a live performance from the TSO. After 2017, Kjell will retain the rights and be submitting the twelve minute animation into festivals across Canada, as well as globally. The Annecy Festival in France, Short Shorts in Japan and the Oberhausen in Germany are all intended to be on the film’s road trip.

Although the short animation has no dialogue, Kjell tells me it is actually an asset. Without the language barrier, it can be universally appreciated.

This film is a great representation of what Canada stands for. Diversity and acceptance of everyone despite our differences, is the clear message.

Kjell Boersma’s next project will be a science fiction comedy animation. I hope to speak to him again once it’s completed.


Image Courtesy of natepowers from Morguefile

1 thought on “Exclusive – Dam – The Story of Kit the Beaver”

  1. This short, commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and funded by the Government of Canada, in celebration of Canada’s 1h anniversary, follows Kit the beaver as she tries to help her family build their dam. As a graduate of Ryerson University s Film Studies program, he has since worked on broadcast animation and feature documentaries, as well as a plethora of music videos, experimental modern dance films, and more commercial endeavours.

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