Animator Zane Whittingham, has over 20 years experience in film, television and computer games, having graduated from the Graphic Design course at Hull specialising in animation in 1990. He freelanced for London based animation studios for 10 years and returned back north to work for computer games companies. Work in the north for animators of Zane’s age and experience dried up, so he decided to set up working independently. This has given him chance to develop his own style of animation and illustration, rather than working within a company aesthetic. Kath Shackleton has a background as a local authority arts development officer, and they set up working together five years ago. Zane developed his own animation style and Kath honed her producing skills, whilst delivering animation projects in schools working as Zoom Animation, and they developed some early independent work and animated documentaries. Fettle has been running for one year, but very much builds on work from the previous companies.
Fettle have established five main strands to their work: animated documentaries, using audio interviews as a starting point for creating work, with museums, galleries, local authorities and charities; comedic shorts, funded independently where time allows; commercials made for charities and businesses; development work for children’s television, made with the BBC in Salford and others; and interactive projections for galleries and events.
Fettle was shortlisted for DepicT! this year for their animated documentary Maria’s Story made with I-Move and the National Media Museum. This was part of a series of three films, which were shown at the museum during the London 2012 Olympics.
Spooky Sport was a series of 7 x 10 second animated shorts, made during the two weeks of the Olympics, screened as part of the Show Me the Animation BBC Big Screens and other festivals. Kath Shackleton was selected for a CBeebies Connected Studios project, and is part of a team developing a prototype for the CBeebies website.
Zane Whittingham took part in Animate Projects’ Test Flight programme, and has developed a script for a new short film.
Kath set up Animated Yorkshire, a network to support animators regionally, which has subsequently become All Animated, a pan-northern network.
STATE OF PLAY
Zane Whittingham feels that there has been very little professional development support in animation. He’s learned most of his skills on the job and by teaching himself. This can be quite limiting, and a challenge to stay competitive. Any support schemes he’s seen available, have been for very short term needs of the industry or for young graduates.
He’d like to see more support for innovation in animation – people developing new ideas and ways of working. The Test Flight course was the first training like this that he’s been offered in his 20 year career. He really enjoyed this opportunity, and would like to see more development schemes like this on offer.
Kath Shackleton would like to see more formal schemes in place to support emerging animation companies, in developing their work and business practise.
“Setting up a new animation company is a big challenge. Establishing a style that works commercially, technically and creatively, learning how long projects take from inception to getting the money in the bank, how to get your work out there and how to plan and manage the workload effectively. Oh – and how to stay sane in the process!
Make the most of where you are based and get as much support as you can. We’ve got a lot help by linking up with Creative Industries business schemes, by accessing business courses and by getting to know other artists who are in the same boat as we are.
We have a lovely network of support around us, and always someone to turn to when we need advice or a helping hand.”
Image: Fettle Animation, Fragile Stories (2012)