UWE Bristol animation interns work on Disney film with Arthur Cox

Issue date: 02 May 2014

Graduates from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have worked with a team from BAFTA winning animation studio Arthur Cox in Bristol on a new preschool series for Disney Junior.

The Graduates worked on a film called 'Nina Needs to Go' directed by Sarah Cox, creative director of Arthur Cox. The film is about four year old Nina, who often needs to go to the toilet at the most awkward moments, and must use her initiative to overcome the obstacles between her and the nearest toilet with the help of her Mum, Dad, brother and ex-secret agent Nana.

The production started in June, just as the class of 2013 were graduating, and Arthur Cox scooped up Oliver Hamilton and Jack Watkins as design interns, Harry Slinger-Thompson and Mara Fradella as animation interns and Rob Turner as a compositing intern.

Producer Kaia Rose said, “The UWE graduates were invaluable to the production and I am consistently impressed by the professionalism of these interns and their ability to make the smooth transition from student life to the pressures of a full-on Disney production.”

Along with the group of recent graduate interns, the crew was teeming with past UWE graduates in various departments: design, animation, compositing and editing, proving that small animation companies in Bristol greatly benefit from the talent pool created by UWE's graduating classes over the years. Graduates interns from UWE Bristol working on the film include Rob Turner, Ollie Hamilton, Harry Slinger-Thompson, Mara Fradella and Jack Watkins. Graduates on the crew include Spencer Cross, Ray Readdy, Daisy Hynes, Charlie Miller, Dominic Pitt, Dan Binns, Jo Hepworth, George Sander-Jackson and Jack Dubben.

Harry Slinger Thompson worked as a graduate intern on the special effects. He said, “This was a fantastic project and I was delighted to be asked back to work at Arthur Cox following a short placement there during my second year at UWE Bristol. I worked on effects like smoke, fire and water on the Nina Needs to go series and initially carved out a niche in this area and then I progressed onto character animation as my skill increased.

“UWE Bristol has provided a springboard into the competitive arena of animation through connections with companies like Arthur Cox and this has been so valuable to me. As well as teaching me the fundamentals of animation I really felt that I was encouraged to carve out my own creative voice. Working as an intern was initially quite an eye opener because in the industry everything moves at such an incredible pace. But it's been brilliant because now I have an 18 months contract in London with Tiger Aspect on the second series of Mr Bean.”

Dominic Pitt has worked at Arthur Cox as a freelancer since graduating with the first cohort from the UWE Bristol Animation course in 2009. He worked on the 'Nina' films as Assistant Editor and Assistant Story boarder. He said, “My part in this series of films was to make sure that all the departments had all the assets and animatics they needed to prepare for the edit. It was quite a fun project to work on. My initial contact with Arthur Cox was through a placement while I was at University.

“I have freelanced with the company since then working on projects like 'Time traveller's guide to Bristol', 'Time to Shine' and various corporate films. I've also worked with Calling the Shots at Spike Island, BBC and Aardman. I've learned to become something of a 'Jack of all trades' and although the course prepared me well we were the guinea pigs and it's evident from the quality of work coming from recent graduate interns that the course has really bedded in now.”

Director Sarah Cox said, "We often work with the UWE Animation graduates as we have found them to be talented, enthusiastic and quick to adapt to a commercial environment. This year on our Disney project we have been particularly delighted by their design and animation skills and ability to respond to the demands of such a prestigious project. I would love to work with them in the future and will be eagerly anticipating the next crop of talent to graduate."

Rachel Mills, Associate Head of Design at UWE Bristol, said, “It is always a pleasure working with Arthur Cox, over many years they have offered students valuable industry experience through work experience opportunities, internships and employment. They are well connected to the UK Animation and Media Industry. They continue to bring this real world expertise and understanding of the Creative Industries to our Students in class through guest speakers/master classes and professional practice portfolio reviews. We hope to continue to enjoy a long standing relationship with the company.”

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