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Achieve Online | Connecting Members

Achieve Online | Connecting Members

Thanks to support from ScreenSkills, Marianne and I were able to conduct our first ever Achieve Online workshops over the last few weeks.

The format translated really well, making use of Zoom’s ‘room’ functionality for the breakout sessions allowing us to bring Achieve Programme content to our members through the UK from the comfort of their own homes.

We asked some of our participants to provide some feedback.

“At the moment, perhaps more than ever, we are craving connection and I was so impressed by the support and empathy shared in a brief one and a half hour workshop. When we’re all working from home in bedrooms, and at kitchen tables with children popping by, it creates a more personal experience which only enhanced the ability to share and learn.’

These are practical workshops and it was great to see how quickly the delegates were able to fully participate in this virtual way.

The small breakout rooms helped ensure that everyone had a voice, and that was certainly reflected in the feedback from delegates:

Achieve Online Workshop
Everyone had a chance to speak and feel included, you can’t shy away at the back of the room!’
‘I think it helped people to be a little more confident than they might have been in a room’ 
‘I had an incredible time and came away feeling super inspired!’
‘It was fantastic to be able to offer these workshops to AWUK members outside of London. From Belfast to Cornwall, Glasgow to Norfolk, there was a great geographical spread which added to the experience for everyone.’
In addition to adapting some of the content from the Helen North Achieve Programme for online delivery, it was exciting to be able to offer some brand new workshops on Managing your Virtual Communication and Thriving as a Freelance.
I have always been a fan of face to face communication, but I can see the benefits of being able to offer the Achieve Programme to more people, wherever you live. We are learning as we go and will build on the experience as we all adapt to this new way of working.
‘A huge thank you to everyone who helped make Achieve On-line a real success.’

We plan to run more of these sessions later in 2020, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in joining.

You can find out more about Achieve Programme and our tutors here.

Jan Armstrong

Jan Armstrong is a Leadership development expert, Executive Coach and Trainer who designs and delivers the Helen North Achieve Programme for Animated Women UK.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Achieve Programme, Education, Events, Homepage, News, 0 comments
Producing Patience |  Sarah Kileen

Producing Patience | Sarah Kileen

As we enter week 10 of the ‘new normal’ I decided to sit at my (eldest child’s Ikea) desk, knees brushing my chin, and write about my experience over the last few weeks.  Home hot desking options that include the kitchen, the bedroom, and the back of the car, have certainly not been my most remarkable locations to work as a producer, but the challenges of working from home full time have been as significant as my new found love of gin at 5pm.  That part is misleading, it’s not new.

I am Managing Director of Fred & Eric, an animation and design agency that I run with my partners Jamie and Maggie.  We have a studio on Charlotte Street but are now scattered to East, West and South London.  It was important to all of us that our agency could always operate remotely, so setting up a working from home environment was an easy transition.  The challenges have come from two exceptionally difficult clients, aged 2 ½ and 6…. 

These clients are diva level demanding.  They insist on regular catch-ups by holding onto my chin in a vice-like grip to make sure I understand their brief.  They like full control over a project, and will communicate their feelings with ardent force if anything doesn’t ‘work’.  Woe betide the times I attempt to distance (*hide) in another room; with senses more acute than Lassie they sniff me out.  And I learnt early on, don’t EVER forget the biscuits to any meeting they’re attending.

The clients I live with also need regular exercise, despite getting my hands on one of the last trampolines available in lockdown, zipping them in and hoping for the best only buys me so much time.  As a result, I have become adept at taking work calls whilst throwing a Frisbee, kicking a ball, and acting as a human vending machine for snacks.  I mouth silent instructions and use hand signals to covey with an increasing amount of urgency that it would be preferable not to be used as a human climbing machine.

Most of our clients favour email correspondence, although ‘jumping on’ a recent zoom call with a prospective new client whilst wearing highly inappropriate 90s girl band bunches was not my finest hour.  My business partners assured me I managed to keep an air of professionalism despite the unspoken Baby Spice homage (anything goes in in the Corona Call Era). And before you suggest there’s always time for a last-minute-pre-zoom-restyle, just accept that the eldest of my live-in clients turned personal stylist was vocally against modifications.  And they say the client always knows best…. 

At times I’ve attempted to involve the ‘clients’ in creative decisions, sharing examples of illustrations and animations.  But within moments, I was candidly told I should ‘get a cooler job’.  ‘Like what?’ I foolishly asked, ‘errrrr Rocky, or……Sonic.’  So it seems that unless I become a boxing hero, or a hedgehog on steroids, I’m irrelevant.  I may yet recruit the smaller one into new business however, as his propensity to grab my phone and start cold calling has resulted in numerous chats with strangers, and just a couple with the police…..

There is a palpable lack of office etiquette, working hours are irregular, dress codes flounced daily with a fluid relationship with the necessity of clothes, and no one has made me a cup of tea.  The soundtrack to my working life consists of loud renditions of ‘Dance Monkey’, accompanied by ear-splitting instrumentals care of a plastic keyboard stuck on ‘party mode’.  However we’re muddling through, and I’m proud we’ve created an agency that is thriving in these exceptional circumstances. 

Sarah Kileen is a member of AWUK and Managing Director of Fred & Eric

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Profiles, 0 comments
Beat the Isolation Blues | Join an Animated Virus

Beat the Isolation Blues | Join an Animated Virus

Join an animated virus to beat the isolation blues. 

Produce 15 seconds (or more if you want – up to 60 seconds) of animation.

Your animation can be any style of – narrative or abstract ideally inspired by or a reaction to the isolation of social distancing or to the virus and how it’s affecting you.

This is a round-robin.  Your starting point is THE FINAL FRAME from the animator before you.

There has been a great response so far with 11 animators submitting work that represents extremely different styles.

The goal is to make a short film that provides the people taking part with the creative freedom to express how they feel about what is going on in the world around us.

It will also provide a lasting reminder of this time.

If you’d like to take part, email roobot.productions@gmail.com for full details and technical specs.

Some examples of the work so far in the image above. 

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, 0 comments
British Animation Awards 2020

British Animation Awards 2020

London Southbank, 12 March 2020: the British Animation Awards draws the best of the industry from across these isles for its biennial event and this year was no different. We still only had relatively small numbers of COVID-19 in the UK and self-isolation and social-distancing had not yet changed the way everyone lived their lives, so those who spend a lot of time in dark rooms anyway did not seem perturbed – this was their night to shine. Following the advice to refrain from the usual hugs, kisses and handshakes, the creative types got creative with different ways to greet one another – for some this may have been the last human contact they’d have for a good while!

The award ceremony itself was swift, no hanging about under the new leadership of Helen Brunsdon, who put on an incredible show, despite what must have been one of the craziest weeks of her life. Not being able to shake the hands of the winners collecting their awards, made the host Miles Jupp look even more awkward than usual, which just added to the comedy.

The crowd was diverse from a gender perspective, but it is still a privileged white crowd on the whole – we still have a way to go there. Those collecting awards, maybe because they’re quicker to jump up, were predominantly male, and if you look through the nominations, balance is not quite there yet, directors are still a high majority male. This is by no means the fault of the BAAs, but is something we need to address as an industry, when engaging crew, putting shows forward for nomination and as jury members. We do know that more women are studying animation and this was reflected in those represented in the student and emerging talent categories, which showed parity. Most significantly the number of women nominated under the new LAMB category for emerging talent was incredibly encouraging. Stop motion rigger Roxi Linklater won this category. Hers is not only one of those unsung but critical jobs in the animation pipeline, it’s also very much a man’s domain still. We at AWUK would like to congratulate Roxi, what an inspiration to young women in the industry and may there be more like her next time around!

You can take a look at all this year’s winners here.

By Beth Parker, AWUK Animation Chair

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Events, Homepage, 0 comments
5 Things We’ve Accomplished Since Attending The Helen North Achieve Programme

5 Things We’ve Accomplished Since Attending The Helen North Achieve Programme

The Helen North Achieve Programme is back for its fourth year. Applications are now open, so we sat down with five alumni to find out what they’ve accomplished since attending the course.

1) “As a mother returning to work the course helped me look at my options in a really positive way. I stopped worrying about rushing to be exactly the same artist I was before I had my son and made me realise I can take any route I chose and whatever time I need to achieve the goals I have set for myself.”
Anita Corcoran, Animator

2) “I’ve progressed in my job and feel more confidence when navigating the VFX industry.
“I’ve also gained an amazing support network of women in VFX and Animation and learned to stop falling victim to ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
“The wonder women stance has also been a handy tool for a quick confidence boost anytime and anywhere!”
Emma Ihecherenoma, VFX Production Coordinator at Industrial Light & Magic

3) “The course was a great way to meet new people and reflect on my work in animation to date. I got time-out to think, a chance to set some new goals and a big boost to my personal confidence and presentation skills.
“Since the course, I’ve made a lot of changes in the way I run my animation studio, which are really beginning to bear fruit. We’ve pulled in lots of new service studio work, our finances are much improved and our educational animation continues to gather momentum, awards and recognition.
“I have also found a new role for myself as a mentor, helping out other women in my field on the Creative England Industry Equals Women in Screen Programme and been making more time for ME! I am managing my time much better and can fit so much more into my week!”
Kath Shackleton, Producer at Fettle Animation

4) “Participating in the Helen North Achieve Programme allowed me to reflect and focus on those aspects of my career that I wanted to nurture, change and build upon. It gave me the confidence to seek out new challenges, become a mentor and drive harder than ever for the projects and people that I believe in. Importantly, it made me reconsider what success actually means to me… I’ve learnt that small, forgettable everyday achievements are just as important markers of success as the memorable, career game-changers.”
Natalie Llewelyn, Head of Development ar Jellyfish Pictures

5) “Since completing the programme, I have registered as a STEM Ambassador and gave a talk to A-level students last month. I found that quite intimidating but the presentation skills sessions gave me the confidence that I would come across as more knowledgable and assured than I felt. The talk seemed to go well and I had some very positive feedback from the students.”
Lucy Wilkes, Lead Software Developer at Dneg

Find out more about the Helen North Achieve Programme and apply here.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Achieve Programme, Homepage, Profiles, 0 comments