Member Profile | Isobel Stenhouse | Production Supervisor at Double Negative

One of our key goals at AWUK is to showcase the great work of our members.  This is the first in a regular series where we’ll get to know our members a bit better as well as take a look at some of their work.  

What's your name and where do you work?

Isobel Stenhouse, I'm a Production Supervisor in the Feature Animation department at Double Negative. 

What inspired you to get into animation?

I watched an endless number of cartoons in the 80's, such as Superted and Thundercats, but it was a trip to Disneyworld that really captured my imagination. I wanted to be an 'imagineer', or theme park designer. I thought animation may be a route to that, but as soon as I started my degree course, I was more than happy to stick to film. Drawing has been my lifelong passion, and although I don't feel I've ever quite reached the standard I've wanted to artistically, I'm still so grateful for where I am today.


We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Isobel Line Produced 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' at Lupus Films.  Images © Bear Hunt Films Limited MMXVI

How did you make it a reality?

After taking what seemed like a sensible route into design engineering, I realised that this wasn't my world and I wasn't being me. Incredibly, my company paid for evening classes, so on taking A Level Art, I decided...I am doing this! I got a deferred entry onto the BA Animation course at the Arts University Bournemouth, saved for a year and a half, and the rest is history!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing women the industry?

Knowing what to do if faced with working conditions that take over your life, which can too often be the case. I know many women who have had varied careers because they recognise that life has many facets, and if they can't spend time with their family, or write in the evenings, or play a sport, or whatever it is that they enjoy doing or must do outside of their day job, it leaves them facing tough decisions.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

© Bear Hunt Films Limited MMXVI

Do you think that being a woman has impacted your career, or have you ever felt professionally excluded because of gender?

I have seen a boys' club or two in action, but they haven't impacted my career, and I've usually progressed when I've wanted to. I have been in situations where I felt my opinion was perceived as less valuable or I've been seen as too bold, but that's been more exasperating than career-stopping! On the plus-side, I feel that I have a certain nurturing aspect to my character that may have led to some of my leadership roles. Is that because I'm a woman? I have no idea!

Did you have mentors or support networks that helped push you forward in your career?  Feel free to give a shout out.

Mentors, no. However, I cannot think of a more supportive industry than animation when it comes to colleagues. From Emma Burch and Simon Tofield helping me move into new roles such as Art Director on Simon's Cat, to Peter Dodd, Roger Mainwood and the Lupus Films' ladies for bringing me onto Ethel and Ernest, and to Denise Dean for being a constant animation ally, I feel very fortunate. The Ethel and Ernest trainees gave me a huge injection of enthusiasm. And more friends and colleagues helped me along the way. How much space do I have? People are so important, and I love paying it forward too!

Ethel and Ernest

Isobel was Animation Supervisor on Ethel and Ernest at Lupus Film.  Images © Ethel & Ernest Production Limited, Melusine Productions S.A., The British Film Institute and Ffilm Cymru Wales CBC 2016

How do you plan to help advance the idea of more women in the industry?

I don't think I have to. Animation courses are packed with women. What we need to work on is how to retain women in the industry, and how to ensure they are supported in fulfilling their potential. Knocking the culture of long working hours on the head, more flexibility, and mentoring schemes would be good starting points. I've recently been championing better working conditions and am mentoring a student at Saint Martin’s, although I see no reason for this to be gender specific. I think everyone entering the industry deserves support.

What advice would you give to women wanting to enter the industry?

Know that you have the power to incite change and influence others. Every small improvement matters and can lead to the next. So if you want to follow your passion, but have barriers in your way, look for the people that will help you knock them down and trample them into the ground!

Ethel and Ernest

© Ethel & Ernest Production Limited, Melusine Productions S.A., The British Film Institute and Ffilm Cymru Wales CBC 2016

You took part in AWUK’s Achieve Programme.  How do you feel it benefited you?

The course allowed me to reflect on aspects of my work that I hadn't really considered, such as value to the company and assertiveness. It actually gave me the confidence to ask for a small raise, and although that didn't go down very well, I got it! The opportunity to talk about difficult work situations with like-minded women was quite therapeutic and helped me view situations from a different perspective. Most importantly, it gave me the platform to talk about the subject of mental health, and how our industry can impact it. This is now something that I hope to discuss more widely.

If you were hosting a dinner party who would you invite and why?

A chef! I'm a terrible cook! And the crew of the Illusionist, for old times' sake. It was a production full of all sorts of craziness, but the bond we had as a team was second to none.

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Posted by Peri Friend


Nicolette Van Gendt

I’m very proud of you Isobel!

andrew macdonald

A very talented young lady and proud to say she’s family 🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼

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