Don’t Fear Death Festival Action

Flatpack Pictoplasma Stuttgart

Don’t Fear Death has a glut of film festival love coming up including some that we’ve wanted to be part of for ages.

First up, we’ll be screening at Birmingham-based Flatpack Film Festival as part of Pick n Mix 1 at 3.30pm on Saturday 22nd March at Birmingham Midland Institute. This year looks like its biggest and best and I’m looking forward to getting to as many screenings, talks and parties as possible.

Next it’ll be competing at Stuttgart Animated Film Festival, which is a huge honour. Then carrying on the German theme I’ll travelling to Berlin to do a Q&A at Pictoplasma! Seeing as it’s a film festival centred around character design it’s fairly apt that the film has over 40 characters in it. I’ve had my eye on Pictoplasma for a while now and really pleased that we can be part of it. Like Annecy, it’s one of those festivals that likeminded people from around the world come to and have a extended piss up. Lovely.



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Gregory Is A Dancer & Behind the scenes shots

It’s great to finally have Gregory Is A Dancer out in the open. Big thanks to everyone involved again, and to everyone who watched it.

It’s interesting how much work and accuracy needs to go into something to make it look silly and shambolic. The tracksuit combinations alone took a lot of consideration.

tracksuit combinations wide

Kirby Skank was played on a loop for days as our rehearsal and dance track, with Bob Mortimer providing a bit of inspiration. We knew Rob had cracked the score the day it finally pushed that skank out of our heads.

While that’s playing here’s some behind-the-scenes photos. You can also find out more information about the film at:

2 Day Green Screen Shoot:

Pre/Post and Location Shooting:

Shot Breakdown of the Newspaper Scene:

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Gregory Is A Dancer Airing 12th March

GiaD Feature image

Our second Random Acts film for Channel 4 will airing on Wednesday 12th March at Midnight (end of the day). It’ll be showing after a classy exposé called ‘Strippers’. Classy.


It’s also screening as part of special sound-focused edition Bar Shorts organised by 12foot6 and Chris Shepherd. The first screening will be at The Book Club, London on 26th March, 7pm. The second screening will be at the Eagle Inn, Salford on 2nd April, 7pm.


Here’s some background to the film.

Gregory Is A Dancer is our second Random Acts film for Channel 4 and was commissioned by Balletboyz. This was our first live action commission but still has an animated sensibility and contains the same surreal approach we use in most of our work.

Part of our pitch was for this to be an ‘anti-dance’ film. However it still needed to be entertaining and work physically to deliver the right emotions and comic timings. That’s where Tom Reid came in. He’s an incredibly talented comic performer with a lot of physical control. Rehearsal sessions helped us find out which parts of the dancing could be pushed and where it needed restraint. To over the top and it would look too staged, losing the humanity in the performance. To small or too loose and there was nothing to hang the scenes on. Although Tom would say that he just based it on how Louis dances. After one of the funniest days ever spent on or off a set, it was obvious that nobody else could have brought what Tom did to the film, especially under the low-budget conditions and filthy tracksuits he had to endure.

Having almost no dialogue we re-united with Rob Connor to help tell the story through music. The general idea was for the film to be perceived as a driving music video that happened to match the emotional beats of the music. It was a nice process of starting with our points of reference, particularly our rehearsal track, and hearing Rob slowly build up different ideas and changing the nuances of the track to capture the tone of the story.

We looked at different ways to show so many scenes with our tiny budget. After first being put off by weekend hire of green screen spaces, we realised that a small kit green screen filmed at one end of our studio offered a garish, shabby feel that suited the main character’s upbringing as well as pulling the sleazy glitz of stardom down to the same level. Using flat lighting rather than matching up the environment light also enhanced the feel of all of the characters not quite fitting in their disjointed world. Keying and compositing was then a tricky balance of retaining  green screen artefacts and the cheapness of the production while making sure it was slick enough not to be distracting.

Quirky symmetrical single-point perspective has been very much done but it was a very convenient way to reinforce that this film is all from the main character’s simplistic point of view while being surrounded by the things that have made him.

That was a lot of text. Here’s some pictures:

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Don’t Fear Death in competition at London Short Film Festival


Want to see Don’t Fear Death on a big screen? Firstly, congratulations on your very specific needs, and secondly you have a chance to achieve your dreams as Don’t Fear Death is screening in competition at The London Short Film Festival at 9pm on Friday 10 January at the ICAThe screening includes a lot of other great shorts so you’re guaranteed to be amused and entertained. 

We have a little history with LSFF as we had the pleasure of winning the short comedy award in 2012 with Man in a Cat. It’s a great festival with a real passion for short film and we absolutely love that they have a focus on funny when many other festivals treat comedy as a a mere palette cleanser.

Anyway, go to the screening. All of the details are on the LSFF website here.

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Don’t Fear Death picked in best of 2013

The British Comedy Guide
Happy new year tidings and all that! In a pleasant start to 2014, Don’t Fear Death has been picked out by the super chaps at The British Comedy Guide as one of their top 12 online comedy videos of 2013.

That’s a really nice accolade to be given, so thanks to BCG for that. More news on DFD and other acronyms very soon…

Meanwhile, our Don’t Fear Death commissioner Chris Shepherd also got in on the action with a pick from The British Comedy Guide for his great work with The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (who we like a lot). You can watch the first episode below:

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The sound of Don’t Fear Death

Mark and Rob

On Saturday at 2pm, I’ll be joining Mark Ashworth, Paul Jones and Adele Cutting on stage at the Barbican to talk about the Importance of Sound In Animation and touch on the anomalies in attitudes towards approaching sound and music in film making.

We’ll be using clips from Don’t Fear Death with the sound and music separated from the picture to demonstrate the difference it makes.

You can book tickets for the Sound in Animation event HERE and here’s some more info on the event.

This is also a good time to big up Don’t Fear Death’s own fantastic sound and music team, Mark Ashworth and Rob Connor. People often say how sound is 50% of any film. That would be a conservative estimate with Don’t Fear Death as so many of the jokes, moments and tones we crammed in lived or died by the sound.

We were lucky enough to have an assembled a sound and music team that we hope to work with again and again in the future.

Mark Ashworth did the sound design and mixing on the film. I think Mark’s history in horror perfectly complements comedy in that horror spends a lot of time building around key moments and accentuating any physicality. His work on Robert Morgan’s BAFTA-nominated Bobby Yeah is how we met him and was also solid proof of well he can handle comedy gore. Having a relatable sense of humour is really important when working on comedy as it’s such a subjective art. It meant that Mark and I could chew over my pages of notes and refer to points of reference without going mental at each other. Here’s Mark’s showreel.

Rob Connor did the music for the film. Rob is another case having a shared sense of humour and being able to communicate with each other really well. In fact, I now share a studio with him and his Little Bad Wolf partner Craig Bush.

Rob’s an incredibly versatile artist who graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire. As we threw points of reference at him for each scene he put together a run of ideas that were already nearly spot on. Not only did he create a great piece of music, but Mark and Rob worked around each other leaving spaces for each other and punctuating each other’s work. They were a great little team. Here’s Rob’s showreel and you can also hear his score for the film on Soundcloud here:


Interview with Birmingham Living magazine

We live in Birmingham. So the good people at Birmingham Living Magazine asked to interview us about us and our films. Ian spilled the beans here.

Birmingham Living interviewThis is a nice quote from it too:

They draw from a fine tradition of British comedy, from the Two Ronnies and Monty Python through to alternative stand-up and in your face toilet humour like Bottom.

Nice. You can read the full interview at Birmingham Living.

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Don’t Fear Death nominated for RTS Midlands Award

Don't Fear Death nominated for RTS Midlands award
Awards are always nice. So it’s very pleasing to receive a nomination for Best Drama/Fictional Programme at the Royal Television Society Midlands Awards 2013 for Don’t Fear Death.

I’m assuming we’ll be up against some big hitters produced in our homeland like Hustle or Spooks or somesuch, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that our 3-minute animated short can topple them.

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Don’t Fear Death is a Vimeo Staff Pick!

Don't Fear Death Vimeo Staff Pick
We are really, really pleased to say that Don’t Fear Death has been awarded a Staff Pick at Vimeo.

Getting a Staff Pick gives you the lovely badge you see on the video below, but also puts your film in front of many more people around the world. In the week since we uploaded the film, over 65,000 people have watched Don’t Fear Death on Vimeo alone, which is extraordinary. Across all platforms – including YouTube and Dailymotion which kindly featured us on their homepage – Don’t Fear Death has been watched almost 100,000 times, which is just great.

We regard the Vimeo staff’s taste highly – not just because they gave a Staff Pick to Man in a Cat too – because their eye for the interesting, quality films around the world is second-to-none. We’re very proud to be considered worthy of their praise.

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Man in a Cat to support Rob Da Bank at Bestival

Our film All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) is set to support DJ and Bestival-organiser Rob Da Bank at Bestival this weekend.

King Kong Rob Da Bank rescore

Rob is performing his live re-score of King Kong (the original, of course) and Man in a Cat will be screened beforehand as support. How cool is that? If you’re at Bestival this weekend, go and check out the King Kong rescore and get there to watch Man in a Cat too.

This is all thanks to Philip Ilson of London Short Film Festival who recommended the film to Rob, so thanks for that!

In other Man in a Cat news (yes, it’s still going), the film screened at In The Woods festival in London last weekend, and will soon be screening at The Cally Festival in London.

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