Whitehorse resident Daniel Janke has two passions: film and music. Janke has been writing and directing his own films in addition to creating music for theatre, dance, and concerts. He’s also toured Canada multiple times with different groups, including his own Daniel Janke Quartet.
Recently, Janke combined his passions by composing music for the short animated film Subconscious Password, directed by the Academy Award winner, Chris Landreth.
The film made it onto the short list of Academy Award nominees in the Best Short Animation category, which is an accomplishment in itself. However, last week Landreth and Janke learned that it didn’t make it as one of the three final nominees in the category.
Subconscious Password takes place in a nightclub — sort of. When the main character, Charles, runs into an old friend whose name he cannot recall, the film moves inside Charles’s brain where a game show is going on.
There, a panel of celebrities question him about the name he can’t remember.
“It’s about that universal situation we all find ourselves in,” says Janke. “We see somebody, and we know them — but we can’t remember their name.”
The film incorporates many different animation styles, so despite being only 11 minutes long, it required long hours from many individuals to complete.
“It’s a team effort,” says Janke. “Chris [the director] had the graduate class at Seneca College in Toronto as his animation team. They worked for a year on the film. Plus the NFB (National Film Board) team, the production team, the studio at the NFB, and then the musicians. There was a double string quartet used and also a big band. It’s a big team for a short film.”
Also part of the Subconscious Password team is Whitehorse resident Hélène Beaulieu singing the song “La vie est belle,” composed by Janke for the film.
“She was the best singer for the song, which was half in French and half in English” says Janke. “She has a clear and wonderful voice.”
Janke and Landreth, a Toronto-based, American filmmaker, have worked together before, and are gearing up for another project together, co-writing a new animated film called Into the Green Garden.
“It’s really exciting,” says Janke. “It’s a very complicated film and probably won’t see the light of day for two years. It’s a long process.”
For Janke, composing the music for a new film always presents a fresh challenge.
“I approach every project differently,” he says. “I think one of the reasons I get hired to create music is that over the years I’ve developed a bit of a voice, and part of that comes with reinventing the wheel every time. I don’t try to write in genres or styles. I try to reinvent the wheel – the style – every time I write, so what I come up with is new and unique.”
Subconscious Password was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, and will be screened at the Available Lights Film Festival in Whitehorse, which runs from Feb 2 to 9. Tickets are available from Arts Underground or the Yukon Arts Centre box office.