Wonky works as a collective of animators and illustrators based in Bristol out of a studio with an IT set-up and a space for experimental in-house stop motion, led by producer Vicky Brophy and creative director Miki Cash. They have PhD student on long-term placement with them and they work with teams of up to 12 freelances on projects as and when needed.
Miki worked freelance with Aardman for 12 years and Vicky has a background in advertising and client management. They learned their animation skills on the job and neither had formal training.
Wonky make short films, mainly online and for broadcast; they are on the BBC roster for in-house productions. Commercials clients include the British Heart Foundation, UNICEF and the British Council. They represent themselves and have also worked through agencies for brands including Adidas, Nokia, and Capital One. Work comes mainly from the UK, with some connections in Europe and they are currently working on pilot production with a company in the USA.
Awards include a BAFTA nomination for a CBBC Newsround Special was BAFTA nominated.
The independent films they make have been funded by money made from commercial projects and time given in-kind, with occasional funding from Creative England, South West Screen and research based work for the Technology Strategy Board.
Vicky voluntarily runs Show Me the Animation, an online animation community that organises animation screenings, events and ‘Ani-jams’
STATE OF PLAY
There have been changes in the animation market, but they are managing to adapt to meet the challenges. Clients seem more willing to look outside London and there are more opportunities in the regions. However, there is also more competition, with more and more animation start-ups. As larger companies shed people, there are a lot of people setting up on their own. There are more opportunities for smaller brands and companies to get themselves seen online, but people expect work for online should be cheaper to make. Budgets from commercial clients are tighter, so they are having to find more cost efficient ways to produce good quality work. Animation can be perceived by commercial clients as expensive, so they have found themselves doing more design and visual identity work.
They’d particularly like funding opportunities to be not just for one-off projects. It would be good if there were support for pilots, or seed funding for bigger projects with commercial/international potential. And platforms to showcase their work to potential clients and broadcasters. They’d like support for cross-platform animation projects.
“Always work with the best you can afford.”
“Pick bigger projects. Focus on one or two bigger things. Try not to do too many things at once. Choose a few things strategically and really go for it. Do it properly.”
“If you can get past the first three years it gets easier. It has taken us three years to get enough work together to show potential clients just what we can achieve.”
Images: The Nether Regions, Life and Fate