February 24, 2019—The Royal Conservatory of Music congratulates filmmaker and alumna Domee Shi, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Shi won the prestigious prize for her acclaimed film Bao. Produced by Pixar studios, Bao chronicles the story of a Chinese-Canadian woman feeling the ache of an empty nest who gets a second chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings comes to life.
Shi spent her childhood in Toronto studying flute through The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program, the Conservatory’s internationally acclaimed system of music study. She believes that an understanding of music, and especially how music works in the service of storytelling, is an important tool for an animation director. That insight proved to be valuable during the making of Bao, which is largely dialogue-free and in which the score conveys much of the meaning.
“You need to have a good sense of rhythm,” Shi explains. “You need to know what emotion you want [a film’s]score to evoke and where you want it to go.”
Shi is the first alumnus of The Royal Conservatory to win an Academy Award since 2013, when composer Mychael Danna earned an Oscar for scoring the filmLife of Pi. Many alumni are among Academy Award nominees, including filmmakers Norman Jewison and Sarah Polley, as well as composer and violinist Owen Pallett.
“I’m definitely thankful of my music background,” Shi says. “It’s helped me to be a better animation director.”