Flicks Films Ltd and 101 Productions Ltd are London based animation companies that are owned and run under the same umbrella. Flicks Films produce commercials and 101 Productions make TV series. David Jefferson went along to meet the man behind them, Terry Ward.
The headquarters of Flicks Films Ltd is a first floor office in Wardour Street where I met producer/director Terry Ward. I expected to see animators slaving over hot light boxes. Instead there was fashionable chromium furniture with a glass topped desk and a constantly buzzing phone. Flicks Films Ltd concentrate on making commercials while 101 Productions Ltd do series work and are at present starting a new series of Bananaman for the BBC TV although animators may be pulled off Banana Man to work on a commercial if required or freelance workers will be brought in. Terry Ward explains, “One, to a certain extent finances the other because there is not that much money in series work although I feel it is a better life making series animation. You have much more freedom than you do with commercials.”
101 Productions Ltd is on the other side of the road. One has to climb what seems like endless flights of stairs to get to the fourth floor studio. Here again modern equipment abounds in a room where a small staff were at work painting, tracing and doing layouts. In an adjoining room was the rostrum camera man with his 16mm Neilson Hordel rostrum. If
35mm rostrum camera work is required, such as on TV commercials, that is carried out by other specialist companies.
Bananaman first appeared as a comic strip in a comic called “Nutty”. The owners of the comic approached Terry Ward with the idea of using the stories from the comics together with the comic strip characters to make a TV series. It seemed simple enough but when they looked at the stories in detail they realised that it was not possible. The comic stories were really only a series of linked jokes where as a five minute film requires a story and a plot. Characters that looked O.K. in the static poses of the comic strip looked ugly when they were animated. And comic characters get away with some pretty nasty goings on as Ward pointed out, “The BBC would not accept a child that goes round tieing peoples shoelaces together and dropping cans of paint on people, there would be too many complaints from parents.”
So they called in script writer Bernie Kay to create a new set of stories. Kay is an American who has lived in England for about 20 years. He has a great sense of humour and a writing style that combines American and English influences. The voices of the characters are done by “The Goodies”, Bill Oddie, Tim Brook Taylor and Graeme Garden. The recording sessions develop a party atmosphere remarks Ward, “We do a whole morning of recording scripts and at the end they are lying on the floor with tears running from their eyes. Their ad-libs and little changes add a tremendous amount to the production.” After 40 five minute episodes they are pretty familiar with the characters and what they would and would not do. “You actually end up believing the characters are real people,” says Ward.