“Don’t overthink your skill level, and always bring a willingness to learn. Your colleagues will possess massive skills to help you grow. When you are starting off as an animator and are receiving notes from creatives, ask yourself what they care about the most. What’s most important about a shot, sequence or piece of art? It’s a focusing question that will make the process flow!”
Those excellent words of advice come from J.P. (Jean-Philippe) Vine, who is directing his first animated feature Ron’s Gone Wrong, Locksmith Animation’s maiden project (slated for a 2021 release). Vine, who was born in Curepipe, Mauritius, says he loved Aardman’s shorts growing up, but his biggest influences were French comic books and British classics by Raymond Briggs and Roald Dahl. After studying theater design in London, he found himself building sets and props for companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“Through prop work I found my way to work on Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as a set dresser,” he recalls. “On that movie, the dressers would all watch the previous day’s rushes in dailies, and I realized the animators were having the most fun. I started bugging them for tips and took old characters home to teach myself. I was hooked. I even got some shots in the film. They were only rabbits, but hey!”
He also directed episodes of Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep series and worked as a storyboard artist on The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. His upcoming movie Ron’s Gone Wrong is set in a world where walking, talking, digitally connected “bots” have become children’s best friends, and tells the story of an 12-year-old boy who finds that his robot buddy Ron doesn’t quite work.
“I love working with performance: whether it’s with an actor, an animator, a story artist,” notes the 43-year-old helmer. “I love the energy that erupts when we get excited about an idea … And I love working with design. Lots to love. The challenge is the volume of decisions that have to be tracked throughout the whole film. We’re working all over the film at all times so it can be challenging to hold it all in place.”
His take on the state of animation worldwide? “I’m delighted that more creators are being backed on streaming platforms, and that animation tools are becoming so much more accessible. My nine-year-old has just started animating in Procreate, which I love!”
LSA become part of the Warner Bros. Family
LSA are pleased to announce, Warner Bros. Pictures has signed a multi-film deal with Locksmith Animation, the UK CG feature studio, to co-develop and distribute its slate of pictures.
WB said: “In recent years, animation has become a tremendously important part of our slate, and this deal with Locksmith dovetails perfectly with our forward-going plans,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, and Courtenay Valenti, President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. “We love Sarah and Julie’s sensibilities and work, and look forward to working with them to create titles that will enchant today’s audiences and become classics for future generations of animation lovers.”
The deal covers the development and production of family animated features that Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute in theatres worldwide. Locksmith will collaborate closely with Allison Abbate, Executive Vice President, Warner Animation Group, to add a “fresh voice” to complement the Studio’s current animation activities.
Locksmith’s first feature, “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” is currently in production in London and will be released by Walt Disney Studios. Locksmith Animation was founded in 2014 by BAFTA® Award-winning director, writer and producer Sarah Smith (“Arthur Christmas”) and acclaimed producer Julie Lockhart (Academy Award®-nominated “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” “Pirates! Band of Misfits”) together with Elisabeth Murdoch.
10 Questions for Locksmith Animation’s Sarah Smith & Julie Lockhart
The two CEO's got together this month with Animation Magazine for their regular and very popular 10 questions piece. Sarah and Julie discussed how they have been growing the company over the past 5 years, they talked of the toughest aspect of producing a CG-animated feature in the U.K. right now, and they touched on Locksmiths slate including their first film out of the studio, 'Ron's Gone Wrong'. Other questions included the best tools the studio uses such as their use of VR software, like Gravity Sketch, for some of their early production design work.
Also, this month Locksmith went to Annecy Animation Festival where the team revealed a little more about 'Ron's Gone Wrong' in their Studio Focus Session. The focus was met with an overwhelming reaction in the room and at Annecy overall.
A great month for Locksmith!
Animation Magazine: Since the studio turns five this year, can you tell us a little about the beginnings and how it all came together?
Sarah & Julie: The company was born out of our joint desire to start a high-end CG feature studio here in the U.K., given all the U.K. had to offer — great original IP, a world-class vfx industry, a vibrant, exciting city on the doorstep of Europe and, of course, a generous tax credit.
Sarah: I had just finished Arthur Christmas at Sony in Los Angeles, and coming back to London — a city whose film industry is globally pre-eminent, and whose creative community I love — it really struck me: Why have we never had a major dedicated CG feature animation studio here?
Julie: I had known Sarah from our days at Aardman, and she came back from Los Angeles with this crazy idea of setting up a studio. It felt like a huge step, but I always like a challenge and felt that if there was anyone that could do it here in the U.K., it would be Sarah. We set about finding partners to work with both from a funding and production perspective.
Sarah: It was basically an impossible dream until we had the amazing good fortune to meet the visionary Liz Murdoch and Matt Holben and Alex Hope at Double Negative, that extraordinary success story of the British film Industry.
All Animation Magazine Annecy 2018 Annecy 2019 AWN Cartoon Brew Deadline Double Negative Elisabeth Murdoch Film Disruptors Film Festivals Fox Guardian JP Vine Julie Lockhart Co-CEO Lissa Evans Locksmith Animation Locksmith-team Oscars Playgrounds 2018 Press Richard Curtis Ron’s Gone Wrong Sarah Smith Co-CEO Screen Daily Student Academy Awards The Empty Stocking The Hollywood Reporter Twentieth Century Fox Variety Warner Bros 'Wed Wabbit'