Monday, 18 June 2012

Newport Animation Grad and Award Show

Last Wednesday, 13th June, was our graduation show at Newport City Campus. We had a wonderful exhibit on the ground floor showcasing our stills, props and business cards and a talk with previous Newport graduates, Nick Rodgers from Frontier Games and Hannah Ferguson from Lupus Studios which was informative and very valuable for industry contacts!

My Acorns exhibit with character cut-out by Sinead Oram!

This was followed by a screening of the shortlisted films as well as a few MA films and the award ceremony and drinks/networking afterwards.

The screening was excellent and really showcased our work in best quality and sound, our technician, Stan Evans, did a fantastic job!

The awards were given out afterwards: a beautiful framed illustration by Martha Ford from Aardman in Bristol. Each category had three nominees and then one winner.

My friend Bryony Evans won Best Sound for her film, Odonata, Jessica Kate Leslau received Best Art Direction for Babbit (Acorns was also nominated for this) and Jon Saunders got Best Script for Thought Cloud.

CGI masters, Sinead Oram and Pablo Parry won Best Technical Achievement which was highly deserved for their amazing film, The Lighthouse Men and Mahmoud Hindawi also got an award for his MA film, The Street Artist.

Acorns was then winner of Best Animation, but as I went to receive the award, Leonie Sharrock (our tutor and award announcer) told me to wait and I stood completely stunned as she then declared that I was also winner of Best Overall Film!

Me and Acorns' award after the ceremony

I was totally humbled and grateful for the privilege and spent the rest of the evening trying to calm my nerves!

The films this year have been excellent, and really show that Newport animation is certainly a storytelling force to be reckoned with. I'm over the moon with how well Acorns has done so far and cannot wait to see what unfolds at festivals this year. I'll be putting my all in with promoting the film and expanding the universe with a picture book and graphic novel so stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone for their support in making my film possible. :)

Annecy Animation Festival 2012

This year myself, 3 friends and my fiancé travelled to Annecy in France for their annual animation festival, which was fantastic! I cannot recommend it more to animation lovers and animators pursuing a career in animation!

From pouring rain to sweltering hot! It was like we never left Wales!

As poor students, we were only camping there, which meant we managed to get soaked and sunburnt in the same week (or day, even!) thanks to highly sporadic weather, but the place is beautiful and the work was fantastic.

Arrugas (Wrinkles)
Particular works of mention were the features; Arrugas (Wrinkles) a hauntingly touching film about growing old with Alzheimer's, Approved for Adoption about a Korean boy adopted into a Belgian family and the difficulties with fitting in, Zarafa a 2D film about an African boy traveling across Europe to save a baby giraffe and A Letter to Momo which is Production I.G.'s most recent feature about a girl and her mother learning to cope with the loss of their father and husband respectively (with added supernatural demons).

Hi-no-youjin (Combustible)
The shorts; Tram, a hilarious film about female sexual frustration, The People Who Never Stop a lovely film about the effects of the Japanese disaster last year, Le Jardin Enchanté a cute musical about a down-to-earth hippy and a tech-savvy guy who don't get along, Chinti, a sweet mixed-medium film about an ant who wants to visit the Taj Mahal, Father about a handful of children in different mediums who share their experiences with their fathers, Pythagasaurus a funny CG Aardman film about cavemen and their encounter with maths, Hi-no-youjin (Combustible) a beautifully detailed and ornate story about a brother and sister who are forced into social roles, Paso Doble a wonderfully animated sequence between a dancer and a bull and The Making of Longbird, a British 'making of' film documenting the restoration and remake of an old animation that turns into hilarious banter between a paper cut-out longbird with a Russian accent and it's creator... just to name a few!!

There were of course more films that we didn't even get to see and then countless CalArts and Irish screenings showing fantastic films throughout the years. It was a fantastic event. The only downsides, were, as students, the exclusivity of some of the events. The Making of Brave, Wreck-it-Ralph and the premiere of Paperman were either invite-only or so limited to seating that you had to be at the front of the queue to even get in. For the Making of Brave, we stood in a queue for 2 hours only to discover that there were only 30 tickets available for students, 22 of which were already reserved so at least 100 people were queueing for only 8 tickets!

The DIsney Booth!
Fortunately our day at the Disney booth at the Mifa building completely made up for our disappointments. We spent the whole day speaking with real Disney animators, concept artists, story artists and talent seekers. Their talks were fantastic and we got amazing one-on-one sessions with them afterwards to look at our portfolios. Unfortuantely I didn't have much to show but it was still an unmissable event and I'll never forget it! I'm going to try submitting my portfolio too so you never know!

A life drawing of me and my fiancé that filmmaker Jake Nelson did at the same time that I was drawing him! I clearly wasn't being as secretive as I thought
The whole experience was amazing, the food was great, the gorgeous book shops, the atmosphere and place, the films and the people! You never know who you might bump into: we shared a taxi to Annecy with the lovely Shelley Page from Dreamworks without realising it (unbelievable!) and Peter Lord from Aardman was on our flight back to Bristol--three seats in front of me!

Me and Pascal Campion!
My friend Bryony and I also bought art books by the incredible Pascal Campion who was doing a book signing at the festival. He did marvelous pen and ink drawings in our books and was such a lovely and charming guy to talk to. Hope I get to meet him again one day!

My Annecy swag!
Pascal's drawing of his family at a Caribbean beach!
Pascal's drawing of his family at a Caribbean beach!
My friends and I hope to go again next year, cannot wait! :D ... As long as we don't have to camp again, ha ha!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

"Acorns" is now Complete!

I am very happy to announce that my graduation film, "Acorns" is at last finished and handed-in as of Thursday 30th May 2012!

Although our course deadline was originally the 14th May, we were given an extra week to finish our then very incomplete films and the top 11 shortlisted films had a little longer too just to get them polished (or in my case coloured and composited!). My film is also one of the shortlisted films at Newport and I must say they are an excellent year, and congratulations are in order for everyone's hard work as well as those who unfortunately did not make it on the shortlist, they are all brilliant films and well worth the time and effort that clearly went into making them. :)

It's certainly odd to think that it's all over now and I have officially finished my three years worth of University, but it's been a wonderful experience and I hope to end it with some happy memories with my friends and colleagues at our grad show later this month.

Sadly I will be unable to upload my film in its entirety for some time as I think it deserves a good festival run in the coming year, however I have a brief clip of it online in this compilation reel of our shortlisted films that myself and my fiancé edited yesterday. Please enjoy!

For more films and grad show info, you can check out our blog here:

I will also have lots of production goodies to show in the next few weeks in the run up to our graduation show on the 13th June and beyond and will be editing a short trailer for my film on its own, this won't be for another week though as I am off to the Annecy animation festival tomorrow for the whole week so won't be able to make any posts for a while or promote my film just yet! When I am back, I will have some well-deserved rest and be back on the case with promoting my film!

In the meantime, here are a few funny "alternate" colourings of the tree Spirit that my younger sister Eleanor did while helping on my film. :)

And with that, I am off to finish packing! See you all in a week! :)