Dan was 12 years old when he made his first stop-motion animation. A little more than a decade later, upon graduating from the prestigious Bristol School of Animation, he worked at Aardman Animations on the animated film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Shortly after, Dan set up A+C Studios. He has a real passion for hand craft which can be seen throughout work he has produced for clients such as Harrods, Virgin, American Express, Lego and Sainsbury’s. Today we have been chatting to Dan to find out more about what inspires him and his reputation for pushing the boundaries of stop-motion which make him the animation director that he is.
What are your early childhood memories and what inspired you to pursue animation?
“When I was younger I loved making monsters. I was really into Ray Harryhausen and Sinbad films and was a particular fan of watching Jason and the Argonauts. I was fascinated by the characters and how they were made to look real.”
What is it about stop-motion that is special to you?
“I love the textures, details and the little imperfections that let you know stop-motion is hand-made and been brought to life by a craftsman. My dad’s a carpenter and I was fascinated by watching him make things from wood as a child so I think that’s where my love of making has come from.”
What training have you had that has helped you in your career?
“I studied film studies at University and animation was part of the course. I loved the small animation section so much I then trained at The Bristol School of Animation which was Aardman’s animator training school back in the day. It was a great experience, we were even lectured by Peter Lord, founder of Aardman Animations who would make a Morph during his talks.”
What was your first job in the industry?
“Before taking my first job, I looked at London animation companies, but my first opportunity came along with Scary Cat Studios, a model-making and design studio for film and television. Gary and Kat were really inspiring and lovely, it was great to be around such talented people. While I was there I participated in making and painting props for a ‘Duracell’ Bunny project.”
Tell us more about your experience of working on the Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit film?
“I joined a team of 55 model makers, when the production was behind schedule. The team had to make duplicates of the end scenes which had already been made in order to speed up the animation process. I was responsible for casting and painting props while I was there. The team I was in consisted of 6 people, some of which had previously worked on films I had enjoyed growing up, so it was a dream going in to work each day.”
What has been your most proud project to date and why?
“The project I’ve just completed for a Travel brand is something I’m super proud of. It’s a stop-motion production about a family and includes a number of sets. We had an amazing crew that had just finished working on Wes Anderson’s latest animated feature film, so there was bags of talent around the studio. I can’t say much more but it will be going live in the next few of weeks so stay tuned!”
What are your thoughts on the creative resurgence currently taking place in Margate?
“I moved to Margate nearly 5 years ago and knew within a couple of weeks that the studio needed to move here. There were a few conversations about setting up as a London animation studio, but space is really important and in Margate we have a beautiful stop-frame studio which we’d never be able to find in London. We are so lucky to be able to produce all of our content in-house under one roof. Animation companies don’t rely on location as much as they used to and the quality of creative talent in Margate made the choice very easy.”
Check out our recent blog posts, to find out more about our other directors at A+C:
If you like Dan’s work and would be interested in collaborating on a project please get in touch with our studio Producer [email protected]