Exclusive: brand new CG animation studio for the UK?

News Simon Brew
22 Nov 2012 - 07:10

The director of Arthur Christmas is trying to set up a major animation studio in the UK, we can exclusively reveal…

At the tail end of our recent interview with Sarah Smith, director of Arthur Christmas and formerly creative director at Aardman Features, we casually asked what she had planned next. We weren’t expecting the answer.

It turns out, Smith exclusively told us, that she’s in the middle of looking into the viability of a CG animation studio for the UK.

“I haven’t yet talked publically about it, because I’m not sure whether it’s going to be possible to do it. But I think there’s a fantastic argument for doing it”, she told us.

“My interest is in doing it end to end in the UK, and also not just doing one film, but having a steady output of films. I’ve been doing a huge amount of research into what that would need to be done”.

“We have an amazing special effects industry here, who do very high end work at good prices” she told us. “We have a lot of children’s literature. I think it’s possible to put it together, but it’s difficult, because it’s an ambitious thing to do in the UK, when much of the film industry is run on fairly small scale lines.

"It’s a question of can we find enough people with enough bravery, and vision, and money, to put into something. Because you can’t do it on a small scale. You have to go into it at the right level, or you’re doomed before you start”.

This won’t, then, just be a case of one film at a time. “You need a slate from the beginning, you can’t just go in and say let’s just work on one film”.

As for the source material for the films, Smith cited the fact that Britain has a pedigree for amazing children’s literature, and that’s one avenue she’s exploring for material. That, and working with writers.

“I know the States look to our talent pool, of course they do. Everyone’s looking for the next Harry Potter. But at the same time, if you were to set up here and have your feet properly under the table in the UK, one ought to be able to have relationships with those creators. And also, there are many very good live action producers here, who nurture animation projects who don’t really know how to go about getting them made. It’s a very specialised development process”.

Using the skills of the British special effects industry that accelerated massively with the Harry Potter movies, Smith admits there’s already been interest, and we wish her the very best with the venture.

As we hear more, we’ll let you know. This sounds exciting.

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