Sheffield animation director's bucket list film StarDog and TurboCat to be released soon starring Gemma Arterton and Nick Frost

An animator's bucket list dream of making a film has come true as his Yorkshire studio is set to release its first feature-length work.

StarDog and TurboCat comes out on December 6 and boasts a voice cast including Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast), Nick Frost (Horrible Histories: The Movie, Hot Fuzz), Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually).

Ben Smith with Gemma Arterton during production. Credit: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

Ben Smith with Gemma Arterton during production. Credit: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

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After five years of getting money together for the film, Sheffield-based Red Star 3D made the movie after years creating short animated pieces for theme parks and museums.

Creative director Ben Smith was inspired to come up with a superhero story suitable for younger children by his daughter Chloé, then aged two.

Mr Smith, who wrote and directed the film, said: "She came home and I was reading something like Empire magazine and she said 'Batman' [after recognising the character].

"You kind of realise that kids absolutely love superheroes. They just completely buy into it. But you realise that kids can't watch superhero films.

StarDog and TurboCat. Picture: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

StarDog and TurboCat. Picture: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

"There will be Batman cartoons but even those are way too mature for small children.

"I thought, wouldn't it be great if there was a superhero franchise aimed a children and families."

Launched into space by his scientist owner in 1969, loyal dog Buddy (Nick Frost) crash lands in the present-day in a small town where pets are ruthlessly rounded up by animal-hating cop Peck.

Desperate to be reunited with his owner, Buddy recruits genius millionaire cat Felix (Luke Evans) to help him on a madcap adventure across town.

Ben Smith with Bill Nighy. Credit: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

Ben Smith with Bill Nighy. Credit: Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

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But when they encounter rabbit Cassidy (Gemma Arterton) and her misfit organisation of animal rights activists G.U.A.R.D., Buddy and Felix are forced to confront Peck.

Mr Smith said: "It looks amazing. I don't think I quite anticipated or hoped it would look as good as it does."

He added: "My kids haven't seen it yet and we will go to the cinema when it's out, and I'm quite excited to bring it to them and for people to see it."

Few animated films are made in the UK, said Mr Smith, and those that are tend to come from Aardman Animations, whose movies cost "10 times as much as ours at least".

Gemma Arterton's character, Cassidy. Credit: Kaleidoscope Pictures.

Gemma Arterton's character, Cassidy. Credit: Kaleidoscope Pictures.

A core team of around 25 people helped to make the film at Red Star's facility on the Electric Works Concourse Way, including co-producer Jan Rogowski, computer graphics supervisor Haris Ahmed, lead animator Jerome Boutroux and composer Heather Fenoughty.

Mr Smith hopes the studio now continues to make feature-length films every 18 months or so.

Originally from the Bournemouth area, dad-of-three Mr Smith, 43, moved to Yorkshire when he took up his Bradford University course in electronic imaging and media communications.

Red Star was set up in 2003 and has a number of credits to its name, some of them in 4D at theme parks and similar locations.

He said: "Making a feature film has always been something I wanted to do, it's been a bucket list thing."

Mr Smith recently moved to Bristol with his wife Christine, daughter Chloé, now seven, and four-year-old twins Sam and Juliet.