TIMELINE OF BRITISH ANIMATION
Designed by Firecatcher with facts curated by Sandra Greatorex (QUAD), Kieran Argo and Anim18
TIMELINE – Author’s Biography
Kieran Argo has been working in animation for over 25 years. He worked at Aardman for fifteen years where he promoted a number of favourites including Wallace & Gromit and managed their Events and Exhibitions Department. He travelled extensively marketing their work through festivals and producing large-scale exhibitions. The career highlight was working with Studio Ghibli in Japan on a year-long special exhibition at the famous Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. He also served on many international film festival juries including BAFTA. He helped establish the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol and served as a Board Director for twelve years. He has been the Animation Programmer since 2010. In recent years Kieran has been responsible for delivering a number of professional development events including the Encounters Producers Courses and a number of training events for the Random Acts film-makers in the South West of England. With extensive knowledge and experience of animation and film production Kieran is proud to help new and established talent and offer advice on marketing, awards, festival strategies and professional development.
One of Britain’s most revered stop-motion puppet animators, Barry Purves finishes his 10th film ‘Tchaikovsky’. Purves’ films are admired internationally and have picked up multiple festival awards. Barry is also an acclaimed screenwriter, educator and stage director.
Michael Rose leaves his successful production run at Aardman to set up Magic Light Pictures with Martin Pope in London. MLP films such as ‘Chico & Rita’, ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘Room on the Broom’ and others have been nominated for four Oscars, won two Baftas, two International Kids Emmys, a European Film Award and multiple Annecy festival awards.
bolexbrothers in Bristol is founded by Dave Borthwick and Dave Alex Riddett. The collective of individuals at bolexbrothers included some of Britain’s most successful creative talent who helped define a golden decade of British animation. ‘The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb’ combining pixilation and stop-frame animation is a cult classic.
Manchester’s Paul Berry makes his short horror stop-frame film ‘The Sandman’ which earns him an Oscar nomination. He goes on to work on Tim Burton’s ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) and as supervising animator on Henry Selick’s ‘James and the Giant Peach’ before his untimely death in 2001.
Canadian born animation master Richard Williams directs the animation for the hugely successful ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ Williams credits Bob Godfrey for helping him get started in England. It takes Williams almost 40 years to finish his magnum opus ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’.
Andrew Ruhemann establishes Passion Pictures in London – a high end production studio producing numerous projects including the long running tv commercial campaign ‘Compare the Market.com’, ‘Gorillaz’ and the Academy award winning short ‘The Lost Thing’.
Joanna Quinn’s hilarious ‘Girls Night Out’ funded by Middlesex Polytechnic/Channel Four and S4C goes on to win top prizes at the Annecy International Animation Festival. Quinn’s outstanding drawing skills, humour and strong female characters make her one of Britain’s premier animators.
the American born Quay brothers (Timothy and Stephen) produce their unconventional film ‘Street of Crocodiles’ widely considered to be a classic ‘ethereal gothic’ short film that won many film awards. The Quay’s also contributed to Peter Gabriel’s music video ‘Sledgehammer’ around the same time.
S4C was borne from a grassroots movement led by Welsh-language activists. The movement to enhance the scope of the Welsh language began in 1962, but the specific aim to have broadcasting channels in Welsh took hold in the 1970s. The funding that came with it that opened the floodgates for Welsh animation.
Channel Four and S4C in Wales are launched. Channel Four soon employs Clare Kitson as Commissioning Editor for animation. In the 10 years from 1989 – 1999 Clare helps produce one of the most successful periods in British animation history. Many successful short films and commercials were made for Channel Four during this time. S4C go on to make the hit ‘Super Ted’ along with other successful animation projects.
Illustrator and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe contributes the double album artwork and 15 minutes of surreal animation to the feature film ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd. The dystopian vision and unique style of Scarfe created the visual identity of the film and album and all future stage performances.
The London based Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit graduates from the West Surrey College of Art and Design and goes on to make ‘The Monk and the Fish’ (Oscar nomination) and ‘Father & Daughter’ (Oscar win). Later, Dudok de Wit becomes the first non-Japanese director for the Studio Ghibli/Wild Bunch feature film ‘The Red Turtle’ (Oscar nomination) 2016.
Cosgrove Hall Films is established in Manchester and went on to produce some of Britain’s most successful and widely regarded children’s animation such as: ‘Noddy’, ‘Chorlton and the Wheelies’, ‘Bill and Ben’ and ‘Danger Mouse’. The prolific output and success of Cosgrove Hall Films cannot be underestimated.
Bob Godfrey wins an Oscar for his film ‘Great’. Bob goes on to make the hugely successful children’s series ‘Roobarb’, ‘Noah and Nelly’ and ‘Henry’s Cat’. Bob’s career lasted over 50 years and his short films for adult audiences were notable for their satirical humour.
‘Camberwick Green’ a (13 x 5 minute) children’s puppet animation series written and produced by Gordon Murray and animated by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari was first shown on BBC. Camberwick Green was part of a trilogy including ‘Trumpton’ and ‘Chigley’.
G-B Animation – the short-lived British studio founded by Disney animator David Hand – brought us Musical Paintbox, a series of ten shorts that lasted from 1948 to 1950.Each short in the series focuses on a British or Irish locale, showcasing folksongs, legends (often with comical twists) and other bits of local flavour.
Halas and Batchelor was established by Joy Batchelor and John Halas. Halas and Batchelor became one of the most successful and leading British and European animation companies of all time. The company was formed to produce propaganda and war information films along with commercials. As in the First World War, the animation industry was inadvertently boosted by a new conflict. But this time the growth was consolidated in the post-war period thanks to new sponsorship opportunities.
“John Halas and Joy Batchelor worked on Music Man in 1938, before they formed the Halas & Batchelor studio. Halas directed the film; although Joy Batchelor is not credited, she is identified as an animator on the film by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells’ book Halas & Batchelor Cartoons”(source: 100 Greatest Cartoons film by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells’ book ‘Halas & Batchelor Cartoons’)
The General Post Office (GPO) establishes the GPO Film Unit to produce public information films. The documentary film maker and head of the GPO Film Unit John Grierson employed animation pioneers such as Norman McLaren and Len Lye. Animation was seen to be an effective public information communication tool.
Here is a notable example of Short, humorous stop-frame animation propaganda film made for British Home Front audiences during the First World War. Anson Dyer produces ‘John Bull’s Animated Sketchbook No 15’ one of the earliest British propaganda films. Anson Dyer was a major figure in early British animation.