- 1977 - 2006 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
31 m of textual records
12 contact sheets
900 photocopies (col.)
155 graphic materials
93 animation cells
39 paintings (backgrounds, handpainted ties)
10 audio recordings
6 audio cassettes (ca. 7 hrs.)
4 CDs (ca. 3 hrs.)
456 video recordings
3 cassettes ½ in. beta (ca. 3 hrs.)
4 cassettes ½ in. betacamSP ( ca. 1 hrs. 40 mins.)
449 VHS cassettes (ca. 280 hrs.)
Name of creator
Michael Hirsh was born in Belgium in 1948. He arrived in Toronto at the age of three, and a decade later the family relocated once more to New York City. While a student at the Bronx School of Science, Hirsh became interested in filmmaking and spent much of his time back in Toronto at York University, working with various partners on a number of live action and animated films. One of those partners was Patrick Loubert.
After graduating, Loubert and Hirsh worked briefly for Cineplast, creating animated sequences for Sesame Street. In 1971, they founded their own company, Laff Arts, which became Nelvana one year later with the arrival of English animator Clive Smith. Nelvana’s earliest years were spent producing short ‘filler’ films (2-4 minute films that could be used to complete an hour of programming when a feature or series film was short) for CBC in addition to whatever contract work they could find. In 1977, the fledgling company produced A Cosmic Christmas; this caught the attention of George Lucas, who hired them to produce a ten-minute animated segment for a Star Wars television special. He subsequently hired Nelvana to co-produce (with his own Lucasfilm Ltd.) two ABC-TV series, Ewoks and Droids. Gradually, the partners at Nelvana evolved into their roles: Loubert became a key administrative figure and co-CEO; Smith became the director of Nelvana’s most important films, and Hirsh asserted himself as Nelvana’s co-CEO and major spokesman for the organization. Nelvana’s period of artistic success ground to a sudden halt when the heavy metal-influenced feature Rock & Rule became a financial debacle; though the film has gone on to achieve cult status, Nelvana could have folded as a result of the film’s failure.
Hirsh persuaded the owners of The Care Bears franchise to have his studio produce their feature film and television series, and The Care Bears effectively saved the company. Nelvana went on to produce some of the most popular children’s series of the 1980s and 1990s, including My Pet Monster, The Adventures of Tintin, Rupert the Bear, Pippi Longstocking, Babar, Franklin, as well as the live action T & T (starring Mr. T.).
Nelvana now has hundreds of employees all over the world, and the company’s backcatalogue includes over 1400 productions. It also now produces both 2D and 3D animation, and its productions are seen in 180 countries. Nelvana was sold to Corus Entertainment in September 2000, and Hirsh resigned his position as CEO in October 2002. Since that time, Hirsh has served as CEO of Cookie Jar Entertainment; he also serves as CEO of the company’s education division, which includes Carson-Dellosa Publishing and HighReach Learning.
Michael Hirsh is the coauthor of The Great Canadian Comics. He lives in Toronto.
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Scope and content
Accession 2003.004 is divided into 2 series according to format. These are: Textual Materials and AudioVisual Records.
The first series, Textual Materials, relates to Hirsh’s activities as CEO of Nelvana Ltd. It is divided into 7 subseries: Development, Legal, Business Affairs, Accounting, Production, Publicity & Distribution, and Photographs. This section also includes 117 pieces of original production artwork (storyboards, animation cels, backgrounds, etc.)
The second series, AudioVisual Records, includes 456 videocassettes and 10 audio documents related to the donor and Nelvana Ltd. Productions. The videos are primarily screening copies, though some document the various stages of production (producer’s cuts, alternative edits, demo reels) and others reflect Hirsh’s interest in animation from outside Canada.
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