Paul Thomas continues his brief autobiography of his struggle to find success as an independent animator.
This is a little known fact. I had met with Anne Wood (creator of the Teletubbies) and cast as one of thirteen animators she sought for a new children’s TV series called The Magic Mirror. A major company was brought in to finance the series but were unhappy with Anne’s choice of animators. They required a competition to choose a new set of thirteen. I wasn’t chosen but the series was axed having been broadcast I believe, only once as it blatantly promoted the financers. Gary Glitter was the narrator for one episode!
Anne Gobi formed a rebel alliance and took The Paint Family elsewhere to find funding.
Many countries were happy to take the series once made. It was left to the UK to supply the money. Anne informed me a producer was willing to do just that but would make a final decision on returning from a holiday. When Dan Maddicott returned from his holiday he said no. The rebel alliance collapsed.
By 1995 I had acquired quite a folio of work; contributions to commercials and films at Bob Godfrey’s, animated films for three BBC TV series, a Channel Four short, an un-transmitted TV series and two pilots. Despite this output my career came to a standstill.
Remarkably the highlight of my career came early in 1997 during this terrible lull. My wife had spotted a lecture to be given at the National Film Theatre by Linda Simensky. Linda had discovered and brought to the world The Simpsons. We attended and I spoke with Linda telling of my frustrations and dreams. She advised me to put it all in writing and send it along with a showreel to her back in the USA. I did so.
On the 16 January 1997 I received a telephone call. I was speaking to Janet Mazzotti from Hanna Barbera. She had seen my showreel and was very impressed. I asked where she was phoning from. ‘Hollywood!’ she replied. I fell to my knees.
My showreel was passed on once more. I received another telephone call. It was Linda Steiner asking me to join her at Claridges to discuss my work. Linda was vice president at Warner Brothers Animation.
Despite this golden opportunity, try as I might, I could not deliver an idea that would have ‘made me’. My creative energies had withered and waned.
In 2001 I made my last major contribution to British Animation, thanks to my rostrum cameraman Chris Shelley. Ivor the Invisible a Raymond Briggs story and a couple of commercials took me full circle. It was just like my days at Bob Godfrey’s. It was a welcomed interlude breaking a six year drought but all over far too soon.
Three more years passed before my final attempt at a TV series was made culled from a mass of surreal material built up over a long period of time. The story combines a photographer, journalist, a dog and an eccentric Victorian ghost. I handed four minutes of animation to Chris Shelley to film Some Uncomfortable Place. It was pitched to Channel Four as my very first TV series was. Their response, just as it was in 1982. My career had come full circle.
Having had this animated adventure I am a wide ranging artist. Since a move from London to the West Country my skills have been given new life. I have been giving workshops, having exhibitions in local galleries, a weekly strip cartoon. Also creating, writing and directing for my children’s puppet performance group Tin Harlequin. Plus releasing my surrealist style writing on spoken word and music CD’s as Zinc Harlequin.
I am a Director of Thunderwing Productions Limited that own Marc Bolan’s one, two and quarter inch multi track tape masters.
The autobiography, T.Rextasy – The Spirit of Marc Bolan, of my good friend Danielz has just been published. He was courteous enough to make several references to me throughout, they, being the first references ever made to me in any book publication.
I have in production a new short animated film, Yellow Dustbin. It seemed only right to star Scratch. Having cut ties with the ancient world of TV broadcasting this film is destined for the Internet and the modern world. It’s good to be back at the lightbox.