Aardman, British Film Institute to Give Boost to Toon Teams

LONDON — The British Film Institute is teaming with Aardman Animations, the creators of “Wallace & Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep,” in launching a scheme Friday backed by £1 million ($1.61 million) of lottery funding to help support the development and production of animated feature films.

The BFI will provide funding for up to two years to three filmmakers or filmmaker teams to develop their projects with development support through the BFI Aardman Animation Development Lab. Aardman will work with the filmmakers to shape their ideas with the aim of emerging with a set of greenlight ready materials for their films, ready to advance to production.

Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, said: “The beauty of animated features lies in their ability to combine great artistry with commercial ambition. This all comes at a cost, and so the development opportunities are limited. Tapping into that Aardman brain to work in depth on a small number of carefully chosen projects from promising filmmakers, is a great opportunity for us to move some exciting and commercially appealing work closer to a reality.”

Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Animations, said, “Feature animation is the ideal medium for filmmakers. It allows us to reach the widest possible cinema audience, in terms of age and demographic, without compromising our standards or patronizing our viewers. It offers magnificent scope for the fundamental film skills of cinematography, design, editing and performance. And as filmmakers we can win over audiences not only through humor, but also through deep emotion and visceral excitement.”

Aardman’s feature films including “Chicken Run,” “Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” as well as the forthcoming theatrical release, “Shaun the Sheep: The Movie.”

The guidelines for filmmakers wishing to apply to the BFI and Aardman Animation Development Lab can be downloaded here. The deadline for applications is Nov. 28.

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