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Channel 4 Backs British Animators for £1.6 Million

Channel 4s plans to lead the way in the U.K. to create world-beating animated shorts and specials with its three-year funding commitment to animation commissioning. A total investment of £1.6 million will be injected into the channels three animation schemes Mesh, Air and Animate!

"No other television broadcaster has invested so much in developing the raw talent of the U.K.s animators and we look forward to seeing more fresh and innovative specials over the next three years," said Tim Gardam, Channel 4 director of television.

Ruth Fielding, joint md of Lupus Films (which administers C4s animation budget through the Lupus Animation Consultancy), said: "The three Channel 4 funded animation schemes MESH, ANIMATE! And AIR, between them, produce 13 short films every year. They cover all aspects of animated filmmaking, and exist to encourage directors to submit challenging scripts and ideas, which cut across technologies and techniques. As well as being shown on C4, they are screened to great acclaim at film festivals around the world, and have won numerous internationally prestigious awards. We are immensely proud to be associated with such highly respected work, and look forward to the next batch of completed films."

Lupus Films is also in co-production with TerraGlyph Prods. on WILDE STORIES, a 3x24 Christmas special project animating Oscar Wildes best-loved childrens stories. The lavishly animated films, which feature a classical music score composed by Debbie Wiseman, have been commissioned by Jan Younghusband, editor, music & performance at C4.

It is a trilogy based on three of Oscar Wildes best known stories for children: THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE, THE SELFISH GIANT and THE DEVOTED FRIEND animated in three distinctly different styles by an animation team, directed by Sarah Cox and Rachel Bevan Baker, alongside ex-Disney director Maurice Joyce (KING OF THE HILL, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA). The films feature the voices of: Pete Postlethwaite, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Chancellor and Jim Carter.

The Schemes

Animate! funds risk-taking short films for television. It is co-financed by the Arts Council, England. During its first 12 years, the scheme has commissioned 60 projects and has acquired an international reputation for supporting experimentation and diversity in animation.

A panel of art and animation experts selects five or six projects each year from individuals who have experience in the manipulation of imagery in film, video or digital media. The projects are made over a 15-month production period and supervised by the scheme producer, Finetake Productions. The films are either shown as part of the Arts Show strand or in a late night slot.

Air supports the creative development work of four talented animation graduates by offering them a professional residency during which they develop a three-minute short film idea. They work inside a specially constructed booth, as Animator In Residence for three months. When approved by Channel 4, the film is commissioned and then shown in The Slot, which runs at 7:55 pm after Channel 4 News.

AIR began its life 13 years ago at the Museum of the Moving Image on the South Bank in London. The booths next stop was the British Film Institutes London IMAX cinema, before moving north in October 2003 to its new permanent home at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, in Bradford, where once again the animator will become a living exhibit in a brand new animation gallery.

The next batch of AIR films are: BIG FEET, by Clare Harford, THE GIRL AND THE HORSE, by Rebecca Manley, (MOO)N, by Leigh Hodgkinson, and NEW BALLS PLEASE, directed by Richard James. They will be broadcast on Channel 4 in November 2003.

Mesh is a digital and interactive animation scheme, which is co-financed by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, and is produced by Blackwatch Prods. The scheme seeks to develop talent in digital animation across all media platforms. It is the first national scheme to nurture new talent within the field of computer-generated animation with an emphasis on developing storytelling skills.

MESH allows six young directors to take part in a mentoring program and series of master-classes whilst developing a short film or piece of interactive fiction. Four projects are selected to be produced and shown in The Slot and on the website: www.channel4.com/mesh

The next batch of MESH films to be delivered and shown on Channel 4 in November 2003 are: WELCOME TO THE GLARINGLY, by Grant Orchard, KILLING TIME AT HOME, by Neil Coslett, TRIP TO YATKUMCHATKA, by James Merry and GLASGOWLAND, directed by Alexander Hetherington.

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