Background information on this exciting film from Animation City for Channel 4.
Skywhales is the 1983 Christmas cartoon on Channel 4. It will be transmitted at 3.10 p.m. on Christmas Day. The film was directed by Phil Austin and Derek Hayes. Earlier productions by their company, Animation City, include the cartoon sections of The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, and the cinema short about space invaders versus pinball machines – Arcade Attack. They’ve also produced many TV. title sequences and commercials.
Skywhales is an animated fantasy film about aliens who live on islands of vegetation that float in the sky. The story concerns one family of these creatures who take part in the annual hunt for the Skywhales. These are huge graceful creatures that swoop past the island on their seasonal migration. A series of strange events after the hunt show us how the islanders’ lives are inextricably linked to those of the whales in an ending with an unexpected twist.
When it comes to setting a film in an alien world lots more has to be thought up than ever appears on the screen. In this film the Perlians live on floating islands of vegetation. What keeps them up in the sky? What would the trees be like? What would the aliens eat? Where would they go for a good time? Though it’s not all necessary for the plot, the animators need to know enough about the characters’ back¬grounds to let them act credibly. The directors came up with the idea that the plants and trees on the island synthesise a lighter than air gas which inflates their bulbous poddy root systems. This balances out the weight of the island and keeps it aloft.
When the Perlians go hunting in their sky-boats they too are kept aloft by gas pods cut from the trees and strapped to them.