During your childhood, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Animation had always been an interest from an early age. This was a
time before videos, so there was a lot more mystique about animated
films. If you missed a realease of say "Snow White", it would be many
years before you could see it again. I remember looking forward to
Christmas as virtually each year "Jason and the Argonauts" would be
shown on television. When I was about eleven there was also another
program on the BBC called "The Do-It-Yourself-Animation Show" hosted
by Bob Godfrey. They had a series of animators give talks on the show
which included Terry Gilliam when he was doing the Monty Python
animation and Richard Williams who showed a section of "The Thief and
the Cobbler". This definitely had an impact on me and ultimately lead
to my choice of career.
What was your favorite show and or cartoon characters? Did any of
these influence some of your later work in life?
I always had a leaning towards the Disney Films, although I did enjoy
the Warner Bros. shorts as well. I went back to see the "Jungle Book"
again and again when it was at the theatres, I enjoyed it so much. The
type of animation in these older films is unsurpassed and I still feel
that the contemporary Disney films fall short of them. I was also
enamoured with "Sleeping Beauty" and it has been wonderful to make the
acquaintance of some of the great artists that worked on these films,
in fact a good friend of mine is Victor Haboush who was a layout
artist on "Sleeping Beauty". He designed the thorn forest. He also
painted backgrounds for "Lady and the Tramp". I was lucky enough to
get him as film consultant on my short "The Journal of Edwin Carp".
What was your childhood like? How was the family environment and
surroundings, and did those affect any of your career decisions?
It was a very idyllic childhood. I was brought up in the Devonshire
countryside in England surrounded by by beautiful scenery. My father
although a maths teacher was very creative as was my mother. They both
encouraged my drawing from the start. It definitely helps if your
family are supportive as the arts can be a very difficult way to make
Where did you learn your animation skills?
I always drew but it wasn't until many years later when I was in my
twenties that I learnt to animate.
What was the first project that you worked on, and how do you feel
about it now, looking back after you have done so much?
I got a lucky break. The first animated film I worked on was as an
inbetweener on "Who framed Roger Rabbit". It was a very exciting time.
When I was looking around to work in animation I was working as an
Art Director in advertising but something was unsatisfying about it.
I stopped by one studio called Pizzazz and an animator called Eric
Goldberg should me how to inbetween drawings. Later that day I met
another animator called Jill Brookes who mentioned that Disney was
in town making a film. She called them up and fixed up an appointment
for me. I did an animation test the next day which lead to me being
asked to do an evening class for a few weeks. This lead to me getting
the job and the realization of a childhood ambition.
Looking back now it seems like it was all destined. The fact is that
we really make a lot of our chances through hard work and diligence
and then a little bit of luck with it. Working on "Roger Rabbit" was
a great experience, however the studio closed at the end of the film
and I saw how ruthless the industry was. It was another six years
before I went to work for Disney in LA as an animator.
I remember Richard Williams (Animation Director of Roger Rabbit)
downplaying the film in comparison to films like "Bambi" and it
wasn"t until I had gained experience on a lot of films until I saw
what he meant. Roger Rabbit is a very broad and slapstick film that
didn't require the subtlety of acting that the old Disney films
For the viewing audience, could you please list some of the projects
you’ve worked on during your career. Out of all of them, what was your
all-time favourite and why?
Here are the films that I've animated and Supervised on, "Who Framed
Roger Rabbit?", "All Dogs go to Heaven", "Rockadoodle", "A Troll in
Central Park", "Thumbellina", "The Pebble and the Penguin",
"Pocahontas", "Hercules", "The Iron Giant" and "Osmosis Jones".
Out of the features the film that I had the most fun and thought
was by far the best was "The Iron Giant". This was a Director driven
film. In most cases the films are made by committees and the end
result can become very watered down from the original vision. That
is due to the control a lot of the executives exercise. Their concern
is more about making the right career moves and impressing their boss
as opposed to making a great film and taking any risks.
Obviously the film that I have enjoyed making the most was my
own short "The Journal of Edwin Carp". It is based upon the novel
by Richard Haydn and I used the book illustration style of Ronald
Searle for the film. I was a particular fan of Ronald Searle( I have
over 80 of his books). The nice thing was to have complete control
over the production as |I also helped to raise the finance for it.
Macromedia were sponsors along with Wacom Technologies. I used the
program Flash to execute the film because it gave me the particular
look that I wanted, this thick and thin ink line effect. It also
meant that I could animate these lines in a way that I had never
Of all the people you have had the opportunity to work with, who was
your favorite and why?
The most exciting experience was to work with Hugh Laurie (Father in
Stuart Little, BlackAdder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster)
who did the voice for my film. I had written the material a number of
years ago and to hear him read the lines the way he did was incredibly
As a Director it has to be Brad Bird ( The Iron Giant) who singularly
followed his vision without listening to the detractors.
Are there any types of projects that you would like to work on in the
I am hoping to do another in the series of "Edwin Carp". The first
short was a day from his diary, so it lends itself naturally to do more. I will explore different techniques though.
Is there anyone or company that you would like to work with?
I would have liked to have had the chance to have worked with John
Lasseter who created "Toy Story", but to be honest I really want to
continue to pursue my own goals now, I have worked for enough other
companies, it is now time to do my own thing. In fact that is what I
am doing. I am setting up a business at Corsham Media Park, a new
film studio nestled in the hills of the Wiltshire countryside. It is
a dynamic new site that will house a variety of media companies. One
of the key backers is Nick Mason, the drummer of Pink Floyd, so chances
are you will be hearing a lot more about it. They have taken an MOD
site and really transformed it into something quite spectacular. There
are a number of built in advantages which I cannot mention yet, but
will insure that it will be at the forefront of technology.
Out of the various production companies you have worked for, which
one did you enjoy the most and was the most comfortable with? Why
was the environment so pleasing?
My experience on "The Iron Giant" was the best, but this was due to
the inviroment that Brad Bird created at Warner's and his project, so
as soon as he left, it disappeared. Also I did enjoy the first couple
of tears at Disney during a bit of a boom period of animation. I was
able to use the full resources at Disney and actually see in the
Disney "morgue" as they call it, all the drawings and artwork from
the classic films.
You were a lead animator on "The Iron Giant", which is one of the best
animated movies I have ever seen. How did you get the chance to
work on this project and could you tell us a little about your
experience working on it?
Well I had in fact pitched the same project about 8 years earlier to
Don Bluth. He passed on it and my sketches and step outline sat at
the bottom of a pile of ideas that I had for some years. It was based
on Ted Hughes book "The Iron Man" and it is quite often read in the
schools in England. A number of years later I heard that Warner Bros.
was working on it. I was at Disney at the time and went over to check
it out. Brad showed me a couple of the storyboards and even at this
rough stage I new that he was going to create something very special.
At Disney they couldn't understand why I was leaving, but I have
always learnt to follow my instincts and new that this was the right
move. Personally it was, although the film wasn't a blockbuster, it
won critical acclaim and is enjoyed by all those that see it. I have
also been able to learn from the experience and apply those things to
my own film. One of the lines from the film that still really
impresses me is "You are who you chose to be", it is so true.
Your upcoming project is "Osmosis Jones", which you are animating a
character called Drix. Could you tell us a little about the show and
what role your character portrays.
"Osmosis Jones" is far from the traditional Disney animated film. It
is edgier and more adult in tone. It is more in the tradition and the
live-action "buddy cop" films such as "Lethal Weapon". It takes place
in the Human body ( in this case Bill Murray) who ingests a virus
whose goal it is to destroy him. It is up to white blood cell Osmosis
and a cold pill that frank takes called "Drix" to prevent him. The two
characters are light-years apart but have to work together to achieve
their goal, it is the only way. No film is complete without "conflict"
and in this case it is the classic conflict of two characters that
have to work together who do not like each other.
Osmosis is a street wise cop who doesn't do things by the books and
my character "Drix" is a chemically manufactured pill that is almost
robotic like C3PO of Star Wars with a touch of "The Terminator" about
him who does do everything by the books. Due to the nature of the
design and character we actually animated this character in the 3D
Now, for all of the animators-to-be out there, what sort of advice
can you give them that they would find helpful during the journey ahead?
If it is solely animating you are interested in then keep on drawing
and practicing. It is never to late to learn something, be an eternal
student. Sometimes you have to look at new art or new mediums to stay
fresh, productions can be a little warring at times so it is important
to keep your passion for the medium alive somehow. Study art, movies,
theatre and live and then apply all this to your art.
Sweet! If only I could animate. Oh well, that's why people like
Richard are around, to take up the slack. His work is incredible, and
his talent is infinite. I can't wait to see his next work.