British animation’s big night out

Frame from the British Animation Awards opening title sequence. Animation City.

Report by Graham Ralph.

Aardman

The lurid pink jacket climbed the short flight of steps and turned to confront the three hundred guests. Compare for the evening; writer comedian Tony Slattery, welcomed Rolf Harris. The occasion was the 1990 British Animation Awards held in the Assembly Rooms, Cardiff on November 29th. For the next two hours, after a splendid dinner, we were entertained by an exhibition of the finest work produced by British animators since the 1988 Animation Awards. The last two years have indeed produced vintage animation. Some of the films had already scooped prizes from world animation festivals and were now competing in home waters: often rougher than the calm pools of the international circuit. The audience was a veritable Who’s Who of the animation industry, lit up by the broad grin of Oscar Grillo (who normally avoids the award ceremonies of the advertising world).

Klactoveesedstene

The sight of all these artists and technicians dressed in their dinner jackets and full length gowns provided the attendant BBC and ITV cameras with a rare glimpse of the men and women who spend long hours over light boxes, computer keyboards and model sets in order to show a few minutes of finished film. This was a night to let ones hair down and forget the problems of production.

The highlight of the evening came when the prizes were given to the young animators of the year in response to the BBC’s Blue Peter promotion.

Congratulations in particular to five year old Sian Harris for her film The Spider. We were deafened by the roar of applause as the diminutive, ball-gowned figure cut a swathe through the tables to the stage. I have never felt such warmth or heard such appreciation at any other awards ceremony. It was amusing to see these young animators, autograph books in hand, flitting from table to table collecting their professional heroes signatures. The victims rarely experience this celebrity adulation.

Brian Stevens Animation

The high standard of work on show continued for the rest of the evening. The excellent Tony Slattery finally brought the prize giving ceremony to a close. It was time for the guests to mingle. This pleasant activity continued well into the early hours of the morning at “various local bars” in Cardiff.

The organisation of the event fell upon the capable shoulders of Penelope Middelboe whose tireless energy helped her through months of planning and negotiations. She was ably assisted by an advisory committee, whose members included of John Coates of ‘FVC, Anna Hart and Graham Ralph of Hibbert Ralph, Irene Kotlarz of the International Animation Festival, and Mike Robinson of Cosgrove Hall. The title sequence was of special interest as it featured the combined talents of Aardman Animations, Animation City, Brian Stevens Animated Films, Electric Image, The Film Garage, Pat Gavin, Hibbert Ralph Animation, Klactoveesedstene, Russell Hall and Music to Picture, all working under the overseeing eye of Graham Ralph who originally conceived the idea of using the multi-talented force on the one project. The list of credits would be incomplete without mention of Chris Grace of 54C Enterprises whose generosity has ensured adequate funding for this splendid biennial event.

Film Garage

We look forward to the next award evening in 1992 and hope the films being made now continue to confirm Britain as the world leader in animation.

The awards were as follows:

The Guild of British AnimationlS4C Award for best student animated film; Blue Fields Express by Charlie Watson for Middlesex Poly.

The Observer Children’s Choice Award for favourite single animated film for children in association with HTV West’s RoWs Cartoon Club; The B.F. G. by Cosgrove Hall.

The Observer Children’s Choice Award for favourite animated series for children in association with HTV West’s Rolfs Cartoon Club; Oh Mr Toad by Cosgrove Hall.

The Observer Award for most creative animation soundtrack; Hill Farm by Mark Baker for National Film and Television School.

The Observer Award for best use of humour in animation; Creature Comforts by Nick Park for Aardtttan Animations.

The Direction Award for best first animated film; The Brooch the Pin and the Sinful Clasp by Joanna Woodward for National Film and Television School.

The Direction Award for best animated titles/graphics; Poirot by Pat Gavin for LWT.

The Commercials Award for best original advertising concept in animation; Observer “Prime Ministers” by The Frame Store for Abbott Mead Vickers.

The Direction Award for best animated commercial; The Long Sleep by Richard Purdum for Holmes Knight Ritchie.

The Direction Award for best technical Achievement in animation; Next by Barry Purves for Aardman Animations.

The Observer Award for best animated film under 15 minutes; Creature Comforts by Nick Park for Aardman Animations.

The Observer Award for best animated film over 15 minutes; A Grand Day Out by Nick Park for The National Film and Television School.

The illustrations are Frames from the British Animation Awards opening title sequence.

Printed in Animator Issue 28 (Autumn 1991)

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