Paul has been determined to get a break with his own studio and it has taken many years to get this far. When he first entered the profession he worked at Bob Godfrey’s studio for a while. “It was important to me at that time to be at a studio where they could make their own films,” he recalls. “Every studio I visited had a collection of stills from their commercials on the wall, everything from dog food to corn flakes. I remember seeing the ‘Tetley Tea Folk’ in one studio, then going to another one and seeing their version of the ‘Tetley Tea Folk’. The agency just shipped it around to whoever was hot that month. The animators would say ‘We’ve got to live, boy!’
“I worked on a couple of adverts right at the beginning, but I would genuinely loose interest because there were so many people working on it. The commercial was never their idea anyway, some guy in a suit would turn up and say ‘Can we have a couple of chickens jumping about for twenty-seconds’, you know the kind of thing. I had far too many ideas of my own and I knew in time they would get somewhere. But there is sacrifice in turning your back on commercial work. I’ve spent many a time with absolutely zilch, but I wanted to try right to the very end with all the energy in me, carry the cross or whatever they say, (he laughs) until finally somebody said that magic word, ‘yes’. I have a fantastic collection of letters saying ‘no’. I could write a book on 400 different ways to say ‘no’, from the downright abusive to the very nice. So any kid out there who wants to know what it is like should just go through my files.
“I never encourage anyone to go it alone. It is a terrible thing to do. Unless of course, you get that break straight away, then it could be marvellous. Or perhaps someone might have a better talent at an earlier age. I had to really work at my drawing ability but some can do it earlier.
“Thirteen years ago, when I was sixteen a woman said to me, ‘Young man, you really have to be mad to be in this business.’ By the time I left that studio she said ‘You are beep mad.’ (he laughs). So it was a good start, being totally bonkers does help.”
Paul has enough ideas for a new series of Saffron but he will have to wait for a while to see if it strikes the right chord with the viewing public. In the meantime he is working on a completely different project. It is just one of the many novel ideas to come from Britain’s’ wackiest animator.
Printed in Animator Issue 28 (Autumn 1991)