Grant MunroOccupation / Title:
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Grant Munro was an animator, actor, producer and filmmaker with the National Film Board of Canada, who was instrumental in many of the first developments of the film board and its associated studios. He was one of the board’s earliest and longest serving members, and the recipient of several awards for his film and animation work.
Grant Munro first attended the Musgrove School of Art, then moved on to study at the Winnipeg School of Art. He then went to Ontario to pursue an honours diploma at the Ontario College of Art. Straight from OCA he joined the National Film Board of Canada, working at first on animated inserts for the films. He soon gained recognition for his animation ability, and created cut-out animations to the songs “My Darling Clementine” and “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.”
Munro left the NFB briefly to gain experience with a few other studios, first in Canada with Crawley Films and then in Englandwith George Dunning. George Dunning had also worked with the NFB, but is most well known for his work directing the Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine (1968).
In 1961, however, Munro returned to Canada to work with the NFB. George Munro worked a great deal with the other animators and directors at the NFB, most frequently with Norman McLaren. He appeared as an actor in McLaren’s most famous short film, Neighbours (1952), which depicts two neighbours with who fight to the death regarding ownership of a flower that straddles their properties. Munro also helped to edit the film, which used a unique process of stop-motion photography to animate both the actors and their surroundings. This animation process would come to be referred to as pixilation. Neighbours was awarded an Oscar in 1953 for best short documentary, and also received a Special Award at the Canadian Film Awards. Further works with Norman McLaren include Let’s All Sing Together, Nos. 3 to 6 (1944-5) (which McLaren produced), Two Bagatelles (1953), Canon (1964) and Animated Motion (1976-78). Canon received Canadian Film Awards for both best arts and experimental film.
Munro also gained great acclaim from his other independent and collaborative works with other members of the NFB. Christmas Cracker (1963), an animated short created by Munro along with Norman McLaren, Jeff Hale and Gerald Potterton, was nominated for an Oscar. That same year, Munro’s best known short film My Financial Career (1962) (also made with Gerald Potterton) was nominated for an Oscar as well. Other works include Stanley Takes a Trip (1947) with Jim MacKay, The Animal Movie (1966) with Ron Tunis (which won a plate at the Venice Film Festival); the live-action dance film, Tour en l’air (1973), Boo Hoo (1974), See You in the Funny Papers (1983), and McLaren on McLaren (1983).
Though Munro retired from the NFB in 1988, in more recent years he has been the recipient of several honours and the topic of several retrospective projects. The Museumof Modern Artheld a retrospective exhibit in 2003 titled “Grant Munro Rediscovered.” Produced in harmony with this exhibit was the NFB compilation of his work, Cut-Up: The Films of Grant Munro. In 2007 he was granted an honorary doctorate fromConcordiaUniversity, and made an officer of the Order ofCanada the following year.