Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

As we look back on 2010, we are very pleased to announce our 9th award for The Astronomers Sun!

On Sunday December 12th, The Astronomers Sun won the The Audience Choice award at Anima: a festival of contemporary animation by women.

This follows winning the Best of the Festival award at the Flip Animation Festival!

Thanks to our directors Simon Cartwright and Jessica Cope, our talented team, and most of all everyone who has seen The Astronomers Sun this year and made 2010 such a special year for the film.

This has also been a great year for films made my young people I've mentored. Hungry for Health won Best Film by Young Animators at the Bradford Animation Festival and “The Lion at Home” received an award in the Animated Films Made by Children category at the 9th annual AniFest 2010 – the International Festival of Animated Films.

The Lion at Home" (Bricknell Primary School) and "Leeds Pals" (Kell Bank Primary School) also won  the “Best Child Made Animation” award at the first Silver Salt Animation Festival 2010, India's largest ever animation festival and the Lion at Home came second at Flip Film Festival and 3rd at the Leeds International Film Festival.The New Year kicks off with the The Lion at Home (Bricknell Primary School/National Media Museum), and Leeds Pals (Kell Bank Primary School/Awards For All) selected for screening at the worlds largest film festival for kids KIDS FIRST! Film Festival showcases new and classic children's films and videos from studios as well as independent and youth filmmakers. The Festival partners with more than 150 venues who host screenings year round to an audience of more than one million. They will be included with approximately 75 films at our events running through January 15, 2010.

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BAF award for St Aidans!!

I'm absolutely thrilled that my former school, St Aidans CE Hight School in Harrogate, won the Bradford Animation Festival award for Best Film by Young Animators with their film "Hungy for Health"! I worked with teachers and pupils at St Aidans earlier this year to help with with their film, which was made in partnership with the National Media Museums Anim8ed programme and the British Libraries Campaign Make an Impact and funded by the DCMS.

Headmaster, Mr Dennis Richards and along with one of my old art teachers, Mrs Smith, and a huge group of pupils who made the film, made a special trip to the BAF to collect the award. Sadly Jane Smithson, who ran the project in Art was ill and unable to be their. The film was made in collaboration with departments in History, English, Art, Music and Drama and is testament to the talents of the pupils concerned and the commitment of the school from Mr Richards down to go the extra mile and produce something that is expectational in every sense of the word.

The jury said:
In awarding Hungry for Health the top prize, the Jury admired the filmmakers' ambition and success in creating an engaging, funny and pacy film with a clear message. The jury particularly admired the creation of films within films, each of which had a clear a distinct style, as part of the overall story."

A still from of the films adverts praised by the BAF Jury.

Friday, November 12, 2010

BAF 2010

Well I'm currently at BAF, and have been immersing myself in an amazing films and speakers from all occur the world. This year, Sunderland University invited me to take a group of their students so I've had the immense privilege and excitement of travelling around with the group and being inspired in animation together. Highlights so far include a look at the visual effects of Inception with Double Negatives Frankin, the wonderful Gene Deitch, Clair Kitson, Paul Mendoza from Pixar and Phil Mulloy's feture film, "Goodbye Mr Christie".

Tomorrow at 10.30am I'm marking the 50th anniversary of AISFA and presenting the UK premiere of a film made by young people all over the world including here at the National Media Museum.

Then I'm going to be cheering on 4 schools I've had the privilege to work with, who all have films battling it out for the prized Film made by Young Animators Award.

Leeds Pals made my pupils at Kellbank Primary Scool as won awards at Encounters Film Festival and Silver Salt Animation Festial, India.
Also nominated and playing in competition for the first time are:

Journey to Gaurna, Dishforth Primary School
Hungry for Health, St Aaidans CE High Scool, Harrogate
I Have a Dream, ASIFA UK group, National Media Museum

The Astronomers Sun is also in official selection, with a nomination for Best Children's Film, so it's going to be a busy and exciting day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lion and Home and Leeds Pals tour USA with Kids First!

 I am pleased to anounce that two wonderful films made by children, The Lion at Home (Bricknell Primary School/National Media Museum), and Leeds Pals (Kell Bank Primary School/Awards For All) have been selected for screening at one of the world major children’s festivals in the USA. KIDS FIRST! Film Festival showcases new and classic children's films and videos from studios as well as independent and youth filmmakers. The Festival partners with more than 150 venues who host screenings year round to an audience of more than one million. They will be included with approximately 75 films at our events running through January 15, 2010.
The Kids First Adult jury said about "The Lion at Home"
Very enjoyable story about a lion who gets shaken out of his picture at an art museum and visits the other artwork. It's told by claymation figures, statues in the museum. Their voices, with British accents are hilarious and very easy to understand. Wonderful student film by elementary students!
The Kids First Adult jury said about "Leeds Pals"
Accurate portrayal of a real battle using hand-made drawings and cut-outs. I especially liked the short section where they showed in fast speed a kid's hand drawing the pictures. It was a tribute to an important battle, and set to poetic lyrics which were clearly read and delivered an easy to follow story.

The Astronomers Sun scoops Silver Blaster

We were thrilled to accept the audience award at the National Irish Science Fiction Film Awards this weekend. Thanks to the audience in Dublin who made our Irish premiere so special. We've been touched by how The Astronomers Sun has resonated with peoples in Ireland.

The awards host, John Vaughan said,
The Astronomer's Sun runs a gamut of emotions in under six minutes, covering hope, loss, friendship and loyalty... if you don't go "Ahhhhhhh!" at the end of this picture and try to hold back a tear... then there's something wrong with you!
The Golden Blasters (The National Irish Science Fiction Film Awards) is a film festival dedicated to short science fiction, fantasy and horror stories. We aim to bring the best speculative fiction to Octocon and expose more people to the wonderful art of the short film.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

watch The Astronomers Sun on 4oD!

If you missed the network premiere of The Astronomers Sun last Thursday, you can watch the whole film, for a limited time only, on Channel 4s 4oD, along with some of the rest of the fantastic 4mations series. 27 days left and counting... Go on! don't miss it!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Astronomers Sun TV Broadcast Premiere

The UK television premiere of The Astronomers Sun is on Chanel 4 Television, Wednesday 06/10 at 0125 (i.e. early Thurs am) It will show after a selection of 4Music programmes.
Apparently it’s impossible to get short animation on TV earlier than 24.30 these days, such is the cultural decline of British TV!! This is a landmark for the film on the week of news of our 30th festival screening. There is a press embargo on this screening right now – so check the Astronomers Sun blog for updates!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Autumn screeings

There are lots of opportunities to see The Astronomers Sun this Autumn. Highlights include Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the U.S, the Spainish Premiere of The Astronomers Sun at the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de CatalunyaImagine Science Film Festival competition a unique film event that celebrates the integration of science in New York, a special screening at the world famous Ottawa International Animation Festival and screenings at Encounters, Flip and BAF in the UK. Check the Astronomers Sun blog for full details.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2 awards for The Astronomers Sun in USA and Russia!

Saturday 11th September was a big night for “The Astronomers Sun”. It is with huge pleasure I am able to announce two new awards.

“The Astronomers Sun” won the animation award at the 2010 Rome International Film Festival on Saturday in Georgia, USA!

Then across the Atlantic, the VI International Short and Animation Film Festival OPEN CINEMA awarded "THE ASTRONOMER’S SUN" Special Prize from the Organizing Committee «For the mystery of liberation»! I’m told the film was highly estimated by the members of International Jury, organizing committee and rose an enthusiastic response from the side of public.

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Simon and Jessica and our wonderful team who got behind this film and to realise the director’s vision so exquisitely.


To see the recent BBC TV news report about the films recent success at the Northern Futures Awards, you can view it on the BBC news page here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

BBC TV interview for The Astronomers Sun

We had a very special guest in the potting shed this week. Amanda Harper from BBC Look North came to do a story following the films success at the Northern Futures Awards. We invited her to Simons potting shed in Ilkley to show her were the animation was filmed. You can see the report on BBC news.

From left to right: Amanda Harper, Jessica Cope and Simon Cartwright. With most of the set on display at the National Media Museum, there’s not much left in the potting shed but Simon managed to pull together a small set corner perfect for day.

Henry was let out on day release from the National Media Museum. Here he is having his interview.

Amanda was so friendly and professional and made the whole experience a delight.

Smile - Henry,Simon Cartwirght and Jessica Cope and in the potting shed.

Henry accepting his award.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well done Peter!

Congratulations to my college and freind, Peter Kershaw who's succsfully completed pre-production funds for his new short film What? Or a Road trip to Europe. Peter has now launced a funding drive for production. To find out more, and become a film supporter and even an producer, visit the films IndiGoGo page.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Astronomers Sun wins Best Film at the Northern Future Awards

Great news that "The Astronomers Sun" won the Best Film award at the Northern Future Awards last night. The award recognises and rewards the best emerging creative talent in the north of England, showcasing it to a wider national and international audience and confirming the north as a hotbed of creativity.

The award was jointly awarded to directors Simon Cartwright and Jessica Cope, and myself as an emerging producer. It represents the incredible talents of everyone who worked so hard on this film, and I'd like to thank the entire crew for making this film what it is today and my co-producer at Duchy Parade Films, Peter Kershaw. Huge hurrars and thank you's!

My thanks to Simon who wrote a great piece on our Astronomers Sun blog which, dear readers, you can read see below:

All the shortlisted films had their own screen and some information about the productions beside them.

Myself and the other nominees sat together on the film table waiting nervously!

David and myself accepting the award off head judge Caroline Cooper Charles

David making his acceptance speech.

The both of us chatting with Caroline afterwards.

The judges for Film were Eddie Berg Artistic Director, BFI (British Film Institute) Southbank; Caroline Cooper Charles, Head of Creative Development, Warp X Ltd; Claire Spencer Cook, Senior producer / Curator, Onedotzero; Michael Knowles, Producer and Creative Director, Made up North Productions; Keith Dando, Northern Film School; Rob Speranza, Film producer, South Yorkshire Filmmakers’ Network; Brett Wilson, TV Production, BBC North/The Peoples Republic.

The Astronomers Sun is continuing to perform well on the worldwide festival circuit. So far, we have the film in 17 festivals worldwide. This summer it’s been playing in Melbourne, New York, London, Toronto and Seattle and is due to screen in Rome, St Pietersburg Seol and Albuquerque in early Autumn.
Full details on screenings on the Astronomers Sun webiste.

Friday, July 30, 2010

See Goole Silent Movie on Yorkshire Film Archeive!

It's great to see the "The Lost Princess" and Doctor A.D Holmes up for prosperity at the new Yorkshire Film Achieve.

To this day it remains one of my most special projects I've had the pleasure been part of, which seems to be born out by the demand for the film at Yorkshire Film Achieve. The project started in October 2006, with local young people between the ages of 13 and 20, co-ordinated by  Goole Town Council. With the help of outside professionals, all the writing, acting, directing, filming, animation, editing, and research for the films, was undertaken by this committed group of young people.

The origin of the project began when Goole Arts Officer, Nicola Dixon, took a group of young people from Goole to an International Youth Theatre festival in Poland. One of the items in the festival was a showing of Charlie Chaplin's 'The Kid'. The young people enjoyed the film so much they began thinking about creating our own silent film based on the history of our local area.

I am a huge fan of silent film and as soon as I head about this project I got in touch with Peter M Kershaw (producer and film-maker) and Madeleine Frost (dramatist) both of whom came on board, and the rest as they say, is history!

One of the first things I did was to get in touch with the Yorkshire Film Archive to find some local film history on from the period. who found a 1920s Pathé newsreel. This inspired one of the styles of film that they decided to make. The idea for this story of Dr A. D. Holmes came about from reading old newspaper clippings on display at one of Goole’s Museums. The project got going in October 2006 and the two films premiered at the National Media Museum the following October.

Whilst Dr A.D Holmes is based on a real person from Goole, Dr Home, "The Lost Princess" is a fictional story that nevertheless has its roots in Goole’s heritage as an international port – one where many refugees have arrived. The film is based on the life of a real person, Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanov, the youngest daughter of the Tsar Nicholas II and Russian Royal Romanov family.

Fascinating backgrounds on both films can be found on the their websites accompanying the films.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What? A raod trip to Europe

My long time producing colleague and friend, Peter Kershaw has a new short film in development from his new base in New Mexico, And in an new innovative indie funding scheme, you have the opportunity to fund the film and get a credit for doing so from just $5. There are some great film perks and it is easy to click on the green button to become a supporter for very little.

The film concept was born out of Peter, who has just relocated to New Mexico, reading a description of 20 things to look for in Arizona when looking for illegal immigrants. As an immigrant from Europe who has recently moved legally to America, he was a little shocked to think, if but for my official papers, he could fail all 20! He says, "The more I’ve seen and read the more their answer reminded me of a road Europe went down in the 1930’s. Every journey starts with the first step, the destination is all a matter of the direction you’re facing".

Check out Peter's 2 minute pitch to find out more.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anim8ed website online

The new Anim8ed website is finally online! I've been working hard on creating content for this website and helping on the new design. A one stop place for teachers, parents, museum educators and group leaders get started animating, it features films made as part of the National Media Museums animation programme which I'm been privileged to lead delivery for over the last three years. The website will continue to be developed over the coming months and I'd love to hear comments.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Last chance to vote!

It's the last chance to see and vote for the award winning anim8ed films "The Lion at Home" and "Immersion Emergence" at the Seattle International Film Festival. Voting closes om 4th June. Don't miss out!

Official selection success in Edinburgh

We are proud to be screening in the official selection of the Edinburgh International Film Festival!
The Astronomers Sun plays in the McLaren Animation 1 programme on the following dates:

Thursday 17 June 15:00 Filmhouse 3 (McLaren Animation 1)

Saturday 19 June 11:45 Filmhouse 3 (McLaren Animation 1)

official screening success in London!

The Astronomer's Sun has just been selected for official screening in this year's Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival held in London, UK, in June 2010. Tickets for the Official Screenings will be available from Wednesday 16 June.

Check out all of our other official competition selections, about the directors and the crew who made the film at: the new site from Duchy Parade FIlms dedicated to The Astronomer's Sun.

Monday, May 31, 2010

SIFF Spotlight: The Lion At Home

SIFF Spotlight: The Lion At Home

Lion at Home wins in the Czech Republic!

Yippee! The “The Lion at Home” received an award in the Animated Films Made by Children category at the 9th annual AniFest 2010 – the International Festival of Animated Films, which took place from the 18 - 23 May in the city of Teplice, Czech Republic.

The jury said:

"The children´s jury selected this film unanimously for its originality, meaningful story line and beautiful art.“

Bricknell Primary school have won a photo-camera with the award. Congratulations!!

Don't forget, you can see The Lion at Home" and vote for it at the Seattle International Film Festival!

We've been picking up some great comments including this from Simon Green, Director of Hull Museums & Gallery who worked with us on the film.

"Superb! This kind of creativity is the reason why I decided to move from the private sector to work in culture. The kids have clearly enjoyed the work and this shows in the end result. I am currently arranging to have this work shown on our service web site."

 My storyboarding tutor at Aardman Animation, ex head of training at Disney Feature Animation and DreawWorks Feature Animation and all round animation God, Frank Gladstone says:
"Most excellent. Hurrah for the director, the teachers and especially the kids. Great work and storytelling!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

VOTE for your favouite to WIN!

OK - this is very exciting! Two children's films I've mentored for the National Media Museums Anim8ed Stories education programme are screening in competition at the Seattle International Film Festival, the largest and most well-attended film festival in the United States with 150,000 attendees expected in 2010.

You can see these films and VOTE for your favourite. The winner will receive special recognition at SIFF so be sure to contact everyone you know and tell them to support your work by watching it and voting

Voting ends on June 4 and the main festival runs from May 20 to June 13.

"The Lion at Home" was made by year 4 pupils at Bricknell Primary School in Hull. Last month it won Best Child Made Animation (joint award), Silver Salt Animation Festival 2010 in India! An earthquake causes a lion cub to tumble out of a painting and embark on an incredible adventure through a series of paintings at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.

"Immersion Emergence" was made by year 8 pupils at Titus Salt School in Bradford. It tells the story of Sohni and Mahiwal, one of the worlds classic tragic love stories. It won the award for Best Short Film by Young People at the Bradford Animation Festival last year!

SIFF sat "We are very excited about this competition, all of the films are spectacular and you all should be very proud of your work."

How is the winner calculated? Winners are based on a standard “Audience Award” style of most festivals. The number of votes are balanced against the average rating (1 to 5 stars) that the film receives. The number of views is posted but are there only help you get an idea of how well your marketing is going but isn’t calculated in when selecting the winner.

Only one vote will be counted and multiple registrations and votes will be removed. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or have any technical issues in watching the films.

Please do show your support to these films. Thank you and... Enjoy!
Immersion Emergence

The Lion at Home

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Teacher training in Leeds

I’m really looking forward to delivering this very special CPD 1 day CPD animation training for teachers in Leeds on June 17th. If you are a teacher interested in using animation in your class, this is for you! Email James Long for more information at or Click here for information

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Child Made Animation - Silver Salt Animation Festival

Congratulations to "The Lion at Home" (Bricknell Primary School) and "Leeds Pals" (Kell Bank Primary School) which won the “Best Child Made Animation” award at the first Silver Salt Animation Festival 2010, India's largest ever animation festival on Sunday!

As well as Silver Salt, the a collection of films from Anim8ed, the National Media Museums educational outreach programme, including "The Lion at Home" were given a special screening at the Cairo Children's Film Festival where I spent a glorious week, and will be shown at the Seattle International Animation Festival in May. The Lion at Home also picked up third prize at the National Young Filmmakers awards last weekend!

As I sadly couldn't make it over to the awards ceremony, they asked me to record a video acceptance speech for the award ceremony, so for fun, I though I'd share it with you!

Festivals like Silver Salt are incredible celebrations of child made films and I was asked to write a testimonial this testimonial for the festival.

Silver Salt Animation Festival offers a rare and important opportunity for the aspiring young animators of tomorrow to view their films in front of an audience on an international stage. As an animator who started making films with Super 8 at the age of 9, I can testify to the power such festivals hold. Screening films made by children and young people in mainstream festivals gives these films the prominence they deserve and serves to broaden the awareness of animation for both children and adults. Children’s films like “The Lion at Home” and “Leeds Pals” are wonderful in their own right, highlighting the unique way in which children see the world. But it is because these films support tomorrow’s animators that I view the “Best Child Made Animation” category as one of the most important awards in any festival.

Long may it prosper!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tribute to Christopher Cazenove

I was sorry to hear about the death of Christopher Casonove, who died yesterday at the age of 66, after fighting a battle with septicaemia. He is who is probably best known for playing Ben Carrington in the glossy 1980s television soap opera Dynasty.

I had the real privilege to see Christopher perform live alongside John Duttine and Les Dennis in Art at Harrogate Theatre in 2003. I was working at the theatre bar at the time, and asked Mr Casonove if he would be record the voice of an animated character for my University film, "Vernic"! Being the gentleman he was, he said yes, and encouraged Les Dennis and John Duttine to also take part! We recorded a whole sequence of which I only used about a minute. His performance was a pleasure to animate. The laugh at the beginning of the film shows the skill Christopher had to infect everything with the utmost character.

A message from Barry Purves

Master animation director, Barry Purves, got in touch with us after seeing "The Astronomers Sun" in AnimFest animation festival in Athens last month. He liked the film much he has written this extraordinary write-up:

This exquisitely crafted and sensitive film manages to raise some profound and surprisingly emotional ideas, all in a few oblique, beautiful and economic minutes. Animation at its' mysterious and haunting best.

Barry Purves, who was a mentor on another 4mations Digital Short last year, is one of the worlds great puppet animation masters and inspires all of us. His new book "Basics Animation: Stop-Motion" hits the bookshops this week and includes a picture from - "The Astronomers Sun"! Co-director Jessica Cope's, graduation film, The Owl House, is also featured inside! We couldn't me more honoured and more excited to be featured in such distinguished company! Check out the Astronomers Sun blog for details information of where to see the film.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

National Media Museum displays film set

We are very excited to announce the launch of a yearlong exhibition of the set from "The Astronomer’s Sun" at the National Media Museum. The set, which opened in time for the British Animation Awards, takes pride of place in the Animation Gallery, in the old Animator In Residence booth. Being the birthplace of many classic short films financed by the prestigious and long running Channel 4 scheme, there is no more fitting place to exhibit this new 4mations Digital Shorts film set, supporting new and emerging animators than the National Media Museum.

Above: Deb Singleton, Director of the Bradford Animation Festival with Simon & Ed Cartwright and part of the set.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ralph Shephard gets Migraine

Well it’s been a busy New Year. With “The Astronomer’s Sun” premiering at BAA, my role as producer has moved into planning and co-ordinating a film festival strategy.

So while "The Astronomers Sun" is still in my in tray, I've been able to look to the future and get back into my own film once again. I’ll do a piece about the film itself shortly, (working title "Drawing Migraine"), but suffice to say it’s been quietly tormenting me for the last three years as I grab precious moments to work on it. Any film 3years in the making that still gets you excited simply has to be made. So in a concerted effort to make complete this film in a timely fashion, I’ve teamed up with a terrific artist, my good friend Ralph Shephard, who is lending his considerable skill to layout, backgrounds, and conceptual artwork.

Ralph is a true old school artist whose enviable talent has taken him from giant sculpture, model making, corporate character prototyping, graphics, set design and building. In animation he’s worked as a storyboard artist and character concept designer for Aardman Animations, Cosgrove Hall and Splash. Ralph has been a Fellow of the British Society of Painters since 2004.
If anyone needs a true fine artist on their team, they need look no further than Ralph. Check out his stunning work at London Art

"Joan of Arc", Ralph Shephard, Acrylic on canvas.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Astronomers Sun World Premiere at the British Animation Awards

It’s finally here. The world premiere of “The Astronomers Sun”! We are very excited to launch the film at the British Animation Awards UK tour this month, where the film has been nominated for a Public Choice award for Best Short Film!

From the 8th to the 27th of February, you can catch the Public Choice screenings at a cinema near you, and vote for your favourite from a fantastic range of animated films made over the past few years. Three programmes containing a mix of animated shorts, music videos and commercials are screening at 27 venues across the UK. The Astronomers Sun plays in programme 3.
The British Animation Awards (BAA) covers all aspects of the UK animation scene, from student work to commercials, children's entertainment, short and experimental art films, music videos, new technologies.
We’d love to hear comments from people who catch to film on the blog. We are travelling to as many of the venues as we can, so if you see us, say hi!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A natter with Shourjo

Well that was certainly a different way to spend a Friday night! Sat in BBC radio Leeds being interviewed by cool-cat Shourjo Sarkar on his late show. It was a surreal experience, but Shourjo was such an welcoming and easy person to talk to and in a few minutes I was having a great natter about animation and life as if we were life long friends. Thanks to Shourjo and producer Darren for making me feel so welcome and putting me at ease. For anyone who missed it, it's available to listen to anywhere in the world on the BBC iPlayer for the next week.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Shourjo Sarkar's late show - this Friday!

I'm excited to say, I'm going to a guest on Shourjo Sarkar's late show this Friday at 10.30pm.
I'm going to be making announcing a couple of exciting anouncments about projects I'm currently working on, as well as having a good chat. So if you want to be the first to hear, tune in! It goes out across the North on BBC Radio Leeds, York, Humber and Sheffield.

Talk: Magical Stories and Special Effects

Wednesday 17 March, National Media Museum 10.00am - 12.00pm KS4, FE: Creative and Media Diploma, Media Studies.

I'm really excited to be doing this talk For any schools interested in attending, there are spaces still availble at the National Media Museum. Hopefully see some of you there!

David Bunting will talk about his work as a professional animator. With live animation demonstrations and behind the scenes clips, David will chart the animation process, from concept to completion, giving insights into how to tell a good story.The talk will be followed by a hands on animation Worksop! Bookings are available through the National Media Museum.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

OSCAR nomination for The Secret of Kells!!!

My old college pals, Tom Moore and Paul Young have done it! Today its been announced that their first feature film, "The Secret of Kells" has been nominated for an OSCAR for Best Animated Feature Film!

Produced by their Kilkenny-based studio, The Cartoon Saloon, The Secret of Kells is one of five nominees in the Animated Feature Film category.

Since its release in 2009, The Secret of Kells, which features the voices of Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally, has been lauded around the world, collecting awards and heep of critical acclaim and a buge amount of buzz in festivals. It is quite simply one of the most beautifully designed drawn animated films I've ever seen.

Kells , directed by Tomm Moore, will go up against massive studio films: Coraline, Up, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Princess And The Frog.

So just in case that's not clear, a small independent film, a feautre film debut for Tomm Moore and The Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny, Ireland is up against mighty box office grossing films with major studio backing.

What a triumph!!! But I've knew Tomm and Paul well at college, and you know what - I'm not surprised, just THRILLED! These guys are and have have been extraordinary. It was Toms dream to make this film since he was about 14, and at college, he was working up a development package for the film while the rest of us were being toilet trained and discovering Guineess (well the latter for the International Students). Actually, Tom led a fair few fellow students out to Kellkenny some of whom worked on the film with him.

I'm still itching to see this film, after missing it at the London Children's Film Festival and Annecy earlier this year, but hopefully, this news will bring a much bigger distribution deal. I hope so!

The film follows 12-year-old Brendan (Evan McGuire), a mischievous monk who lives with his uncle, Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson). Brendan's life is changed forever with the arrival of Brother Aiden (Mick Lally), a celebrated master illuminator who awakens Brendan's hidden talent for illumination. With the terrifying Viking hordes closing in, the future of the precious Book of Kells is in jeopardy and it falls to Brendan to save the day.

The Secret of Kells was produced by Cartoon Saloon, Les Armateurs (France) and Vivi film (Belgium).


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Astronomers Sun preview screening

Editor Adam Kirk outside the mighty 4.

Mentor Sara Mullock, Director Si Cartwright, Director John Williams

Director Jess Cope talking to Producer David Bunting

If you live in York and care about the Arts read this!

I am shocked to read proposals that the community arts budget and the arts education consultancy service budget are proposed to cease as part of the savings process in York.

This means that the two community arts posts will be lost, as well as the three schools consultant posts within the Arts Education Service.

In the words of the council, "This will obviously have an impact on the range of services provided and offered to residents and the community, education and arts sectors."

No kidding! These people do small miracles every day that make real difference in peoples lives. Cutting the arts is an easy hit in a recession but it's in times of hardship that these services are needed even more.

If you live in York and want to see the arts survive, The public is able to formally respond to specific proposals through email to your local ward councillors.
Ben Drake (Unison representative) -

Any comments or views should be sent by Monday 25th January.

The recommendations arising from the Decision Session will be put to the Council budget meeting on 25th February 2010.

An example of the valuable work York were part of is the BioMation programme which explored heath issues through animation with patients, medical professionals and artists. The Aspergers film, which I was proud to work on won Best Short Film at the Edinburgh Mental Health Festival and is now considered an invaluable aid in helping young people and families diagnosed with aspergers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hand drawn special effects - The Astronomer's Sun

Lots of job sharing occurs in the making of short films, so it feels in the spirit of things that as well as co-producing “The Astronomers Sun”, I also got stuck into the film making like everyone else.
Back in 2001, I animated effects for another 4mations short film, the multi-award winning “How to Cope with Death”, directed by Ignacio Ferreras at Tandem Films. So I was proud to lend my expertise to “The Astronomers Sun”, climactic effects showstopper.
As a stop motion film, we were all keen to ensure that the effects reflected the ethos and style of the hand crafted world. Digital effects tend to jar and look out of place in stop motion films. For “The Astronomers Sun”, we used a combination of effects elements, optical, miniature, drawn and digital, with many shots combining several techniques to achieve the final look.

The majority of the drawn animation elements I produced were used for the transformation sequence. Henry was filmed with an LED light in his chest and shot using a Vaseline filter which gave a wonderful rich glow. I added hand drawn sparks and vaporous smoke.

Before and after: TOP: The original stop motion footage, complete with an LED light and Vaseline filter, and ABOVE, the final composited image with hand drawn smoke and light particles.

One of over 700 tonal charcoal drawings made of the main smoke pass, all animated on 1’s.

The sparks and smaller smoke elements were animated with a wacom tablet straight into ToonBoom Animate Pro, which sped up the production work flow as well as making it possible to create incredibly rich painterly shots. The drawn smoke elements then went to Kevin Herbison who created mattes for the smoke interacting with Henry and other objects in the scene. Finally, all of these elements were exported and sent to Zoe Matzko in London for compositing in After Effects. What’s exciting in tackling drawn visual effects now is how much modern compositing has transformed the toolkit of possibilities of open to drawn effects artists. Zoe took all of these various layers and made them work together like one beautiful and seamless photograph.