Framed Film Festival – Barbican

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I have some very exciting news! My films will be screened at the Framed Film Festival for children at the Barbican on 21 November.  Three shorts will be  shown – including my new film The Tie – as well as two episodes of 64 Zoo Lane. The screening is entitled ‘Animal Magic with animator An Vrombaut’ and  is the first such screening dedicated solely to my work. There will be wolves, whales, kitten, tigers, elephants –  and giraffes of course!

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The Tie – Special Mention at Berlinale Generation 2015 and Amsterdam Young Audience Award at KLIK! 2015

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Little Wolf – my graduation film from the RCA

Tiger

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Tiger – animated short

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64 Zoo Lane

I will be at the screening to talk about my animal creations, and during the rest of the day I will be in the cinema foyer to sign books and run a free ‘animal-ears’ workshop. I will be joined by artist Shelly Wain who is designing hats based on some of the other films showing at the festival.

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64 Zoo Lane animal ears and Shelly wearing a Red Plane hat

The screening is on Saturday 21 November at 1:30 pm. You can book tickets here: Animal Magic with animator An Vrombaut screening. The Tie will also be shown on Sunday 22 November as a short with  The Adventures of the Red Plane feature. I won’t be there on the Sunday, but another artist, Sarah Page, will run the free animal ears/hats workshop.

Other festival highlights include Kahlil Gibran’s the Prophet, a preview screening of The Peanuts Movie and a Green Screen Studio.

I hope to see lots of animal fans at the screening!

Beale Park 64 Zoo Lane book event pictures

On Saturday 20th July I visited Beale Park in Berkshire for the launch of the re-issued 64 Zoo lane books. Beale Park is a wildlife park on the banks of the river Thames. It’s home to lots of wonderful creatures including alpacas, meerkats, owls, capybaras and this feathered beauty:

peacock at beale park

Here’s my version of a Beale Park peacock.

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I started story time with the story of Georgina the Giraffe who is incredibly tall.

Georgina

Craft activities followed. Here’s Georgina’s long neck. A group effort!

shadow play

The shadow giraffe ears and ossicones (those antlery things)  belong to myself and  Nellie Williams, wonderful and indefatigable events organiser.

There was an opportunity to enter my Giraffe Art competition.

giraffes on the washing line

Concentration required…

drawing

What a charming specimen!

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Not quite a giraffe, but equally lovely:

elephant blue

There’s still time to enter the Giraffe Art competition (details here).  The deadline is 4th August.

Faces were painted  by the talented Trina of Jinglejellies.

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Georgina the Giraffe and Zed the Zebra

Georgina and Zed

Books were sold by Alison of the Wallingford Bookshop (l) and signed by me (r).

wallingford bookshop

And last but not least, I was presented with a gift from Beale Park: sponsorship of a capybara (my 2nd favourite animal after giraffes).

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Here she is: Peggy-Sue the Capybara

capybara

Many thanks to Nellie, Beale Park, Wallingford Bookshop, Hodder Children’s books and everyone else who helped to make it a wonderful day!

64 Zoo Lane book launch at Beale Park- Saturday 20th July

Georgina with alpacas

A giraffe among the alpacas? Yes, on Saturday 20th July Georgina the Giraffe from 64 Zoo Lane will be visiting picturesque Beale Park  near Pangbourne on the banks of the river Thames in Berkshire .

Come and  meet the creator of 64 Zoo Lane -that’s me- and listen to  64 Zoo Lane stories at 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm and 3:30 pm. Each reading will be followed by a drawing demonstration and craft activities. We’ll even be making a giraffe who’s incredibly tallllllllllllll. Readings and activities are included in the park admission fee. The Wallingford Bookshop will bring  64 Zoo Lane  books  to sell. I’ll bring my special signing pen and giraffe ears along  for the occasion!

64 Zoo Lane books

 

Beale Park  makes a great day out for all the family with its animals, gardens, play and activities. For information  including admission prices and directions visit www.bealepark.co.uk or email or email nell@bealepark.co.uk.

There are lots of animals to discover. Here are some of my favourites:

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Meerkat – a real one (you’ll also find yummy jelly meerkats at Beale Park)

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Owl- I wonder who ruffled this chap’s feathers?

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Capybara – sort of like a guinea pig but MUCH BIGGER

Beale Park has many quirky sculptures. I particularly like this buffalo one:

buffalo sculpture

I hope to meet lots and lots of 64 Zoo Lane fans on July 20th. For regular updates follow  Beale Park’s event organiser  Nellie @PeacocksPompoms on Twitter.  If you have a query please contact Nell Williams, nell@bealepark.co.uk / Tel 07827 275973

And finally, I couldn’t resist drawing a rotund rodent for the occasion. So here she is: Carmen the Capybara, 64 Zoo Lane style. She’s rather charming, don’t you think?

Carmen the Capybara

The 64 Zoo Lane picture books are published by Hodder Children’s Books.

A few favourite animal films

animal_TVIn my last blog post I wrote about the traditional animal stories which inspired me to create 64 Zoo Lane. It is not just books that influenced me though…

Here are a few of my favourite films and TV programmes featuring animals. Some are very well-known and others obscure. First, two animated shorts I was introduced to when I was a student:

 

 

 

Caroline Leaf ‘s tragic ‘The Owl who married a Goose’.  This film was  animated using sand on glass.

Yuri Norstein’s atmospheric ‘Hedgehog in the Fog’. This is a slow, absorbing film, a simple tale masterly told.  I also love Norstein’s ‘Tale of Tales’ which features a wolf cub.

The Jungle Book is one of my all-time favourite Disney features.  This is the  Kaa hypnosis scene.

The Lion King  was released at around the same time I started work on the pilot episode of 64 Zoo Lane.  Suddenly, savannah animals were ‘in’.  This is one of  the few films I have seen three times on the big screen. My daughter likes to do a ‘Simba’ with our geriatric cat. This involves holding the cat aloft while singing  “Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala”.

And finally, a Dutch language clip of a pre-school TV programme I used to watch every evening as a young child in Belgium: De Fabeltjeskrant ‘The Fables Times’.

There is no doubt this programme influenced me. The storytelling format of fables is similar to that of 64 Zoo Lane. However, I was not my favourite programme when I was a child; that honour must go to Colargol.  And as an adult I still feel ambiguous about  De Fabeltjeskrant; I  find the morals rather overpowering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

64 Zoo Lane- A sort-of-anniversary

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64 Zoo Lane turns 20 this month.  TWENTY?  Well yes, sort of …

Lucy and her menagerie have been on TV since 2000 – so that’s just over 13 years.  However,  I created the concept seven years earlier in 1993 when I was  a student at the Royal College of Art.  I had just completed my graduation Little Wolf  (music by Rowland Lee who went on to write the music for 64 Zoo Lane).  I knew  I wanted make children’s TV, so I started thinking of an idea for an animated series…

There were two things I was sure of from the start:

Firstly, my TV series would have animals in it.  I grew up in a household with lots of pets, so animals are what I enjoy drawing the most.  Here’s a drawing of a tortoise I did when I was five. Can you see the resemblance with Toby from 64 Zoo Lane?

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And secondly, this series had be something that would really engage me .  The idea of doing 26 episodes with the same characters and settings terrified me slightly. What if I got bored after episode number 3? I needed to come up with a concept that would keep me captivated , a format I could expand on… So I decided to include lots of animal characters  that live in different environments.

A zoo was the first thing that came to my mind. I took inspiration from Antwerp  zoo in Belgium which I visited regularly as a child. It’s in the middle of the city right next to the central railway station.

Entrance to the Zoo in Antwerp, Belgium

Entrance to the Zoo in Antwerp, Belgium – image Sara McDuck Creative Commons

An early development drawing for 64 Zoo Lane

An early development drawing for 64 Zoo Lane

Then I got the  idea of a girl living next door at number 64.   Each night Lucy would make a clandestine visit to the zoo via the long neck of Georgina the giraffe and one of the  animals would tell her a bed time story.

My original plan was to use traditional animal stories. I started by researching Aesop’s fables.   I recently discovered these excellent  BBC School Radio recordings of Aesop’s tales  (narrated by Richard Briers, Jane Horrocks, Alison Steadman and others).

I  read Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories before moving on to Inuit raven legends, the traditional African tales of Anansi the Spider and  the mischief maker Nogwaja the Hare and the Igbo story of the flying tortoise.

However, the more animal stories I discovered, the more I realised how difficult it would be to re-use characters from one story into another. So I abandoned the plan of using  characters from traditional tales and decided to create my own instead. I wanted my characters to be like real people : Each would have its  flaws and obsessions, and each would relate to the others as if they were members of one large extended family.  I started to write stories about  a giraffe with a very long neck. A little crocodile who  can’t help being cute. A zebra with go-faster stripes. A kangaroo who can’t jump. A lonely polar bear. A hairy hippo. And of course many more… I couldn’t possibly write all 64 Zoo Lane stories myself so I work with a small team of talented script writers. It’s great fun!

We’re up to episode 104 now.  Thankfully I’m still not bored with it and  neither are the writers, voice artists, story-board artists, composer etc.

So  Happy 20th  Anniversary to 64 Zoo Lane!  (And also to Lucy who’s forever 7)

Series 4 of 64 Zoo Lane is currently showing on  CBeebies Sunday to Thursday at 18:10.  

Watch  episodes on the iPlayer  (UK only)

 

 

The Tie –new short film

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