Bradford has long been a gathering place for the UK’s animation industry courtesy of the city’s annual animation festival, now marking its 21st edition.
Among those heading north next week is Aardman’s Peter Lord, one of the founding fathers of modern British stop-motion animation and the creator of TV favourite, Morph.
The 61-year-old veteran will be presenting a portrait of Aardman and underlining its position as a producer of features, TV series, commercials and online work. But Lord will also be making himself accessible to the scores of young animators who flock to Bradford to sit at the feet of those that have gone before.
Lord and his partner David Sproxton were inspired by the likes of Ray (Jason and the Argonauts) Harryhausen and also Ivor Wood, the man behind Postman Pat, Paddington and The Wombles.
Theirs was a revolutionary time but Lord is looking forward to a new revolution.
“We had the advantage that what we were doing with plasticine or animation with modelling clay was unique back in the day,” he remembers.
“We were doing something that nobody else in the world was doing, so that put us in a very, very strong position. It’s very, very difficult now for a young person to find that thing that hasn’t been done yet. What is that new era to explore?”
He is inundated with requests for work experience at Aardman. His response is to urge youngsters to “follow their own particular track”.
He adds: “I try to give them confidence in what they’re doing. Just that. Successful people don’t copy from other people. Successful people have an idea and see it through to conclusion and work really hard at it.
“I enjoy their feedback and their energy. It’s nice to encounter people who are just totally up for it, buzzing with energy, ambition and hope. Those are all great things.
“And I do talk about the real values of practising. Animation is like playing a guitar or a violin; you really have to practise an awful lot to get good. I really encourage them to do that.”
Other guests lined up for BAF include York-based gaming legend Charles Cecil, who will present the festival’s keynote speech, French writer/director Michel (Kirikou and The Sorceress) Ocelot, and Vivien Halas, who celebrates the centenary of her mother, Joy Batchelor of Animal Farm fame.
Festival director Deb Singleton’s personal highlight is the Films in Competition strand, which lies at the heart of the event.
“Whilst our guest Screentalk programme recognises the achievements of some of the large studios, this strand celebrates some of the fabulous short films created over the last 12 months and illustrates perfectly the scope of animation – documentaries, narrative films, music videos and commercials.
“From the 700 films submitted we have the unenviable task of choosing around 100, which are then in the running for a coveted BAF Award and the winners are announced on Friday November 21.”
• Bradford Animation Festival, November 17-22, National Media Museum. For the full programme visit www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk