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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Feb. 13, 2009 | 9:36 PM

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An Interview with animators Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes of THIS WAY UP

How did you first become interested in film?

We both came from a graphic design background but quickly realized it was far more fun to make your designs move around. When we were at the RCA we both experimented with all kinds of visual techniques on our own films, creating quite abstract patterns of movement. But when we left and joined forces we became frustrated storytellers, trying to find space for characters, stories and gags.

What films influence or inspire you creatively?

I think the work of many British comedy double acts have seeped into our subconscious, especially Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. All very silly stuff I suppose.

What inspired the idea for your short film?

Mike Judge from “The Animation Show” asked us to make a short film in a ridiculously short amount of time. It sort of spiraled out of control from there. We were endlessly re-writing ideas that had been floating around for ages without really going anywhere, so we decided to start from scratch with a very simple central story from which larger events could grow.

For THIS WAY UP, the film that stuck in our minds was a 1970’s British film called THE PLANK, where two guys have to safely deliver, er, a plank. But neither of us can recall ever actually seeing it. It was just the idea of a very simple task that appealed. Then we took it to as far an extreme as possible. We just wanted to find the right amount of story to tell in eight minutes.

Answered by producer and writer Christopher O’Reilly:

How did you get the funding?

This is obviously never easy with a short film. We were approached by Mike Judge who wanted to commission some short films for “The Animation Show”. He liked previous work by Adam and Alan and this started the ball rolling. We then approached other funding contacts including the BBC in the UK and Arcadie in France and they were kind enough to help. As with many short film projects this didn’t fully cover the costs, but working with our regular crew of animators at Nexus we managed to get the project out the door.

How long did it take to get made?

From start to finish was about 7 months. This is kind of short for a project of this nature. I know we would have loved to have more time upfront on script development. And more time on every other aspect. But that just doesn’t happen! We’re quite good with deadlines and it galvanized everyone together to get the film made in a short time.

How have you gone about getting the film seen by others?

First and foremost we were really just making sure that it got as much of a festival life as possible. It’s time consuming to get it into these but this is the only real way to get shorts out there. It had some success picking up awards at the Ottawa Animation Festival, Palm Springs, Rhode island, Siggraph and quite a few others. It seemed to win a lot of audience awards which was pleasing. It got selected for Sundance and then quickly after that got the Oscar nomination. That means that its now having a theatrical release and will be available soon iTunes, so its getting a much wider audience. Its even getting a prime time TV showing on the BBC too which is pretty unusual for a short film!

What are your goals and upcoming projects for the future?

We want to continue to work on good projects and develop features. We think that there is a great audience for animated stories with an independent edge and we want to continue to make films in that area. Nothing is overnight in animation but we work with some great talent and are really excited about the path we’re taking.

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