South West

Why Everyone in the South West (And Beyond) Should Attend Cardiff Animation Nights

Why Everyone in the South West (And Beyond) Should Attend Cardiff Animation Nights

This month was my first time at Cardiff Animation Nights. Having just relocated to Cardiff from Los Angeles, I’ve always heard nothing but amazing things about the free bi-monthly event from my UK cohorts, so I couldn’t miss this opportunity to finally check it out.

The screenings the night I attended were held in the back of Kong’s Cardiff in the city centre. With the help of strategically placed signs at the bars initial entrance, I navigated through a maze of dimly lit back hallways and swinging doors, until I reached a massive hidden room full of buzzing animation enthusiasts of all ages. It was as if I left Cardiff behind and instantly stepped into the colourful world of animation like Charlie stepping through the doors of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for the first time.

I didn’t have to worry about stumbling back to Kong’s for a drink or two during the night either, as the room had it’s own bar where I could grab a pint and speak with co-workers or other individuals I met who came to enjoy the shorts. Screens and rows of benches were set up on opposite ends of the room, to ensure no one missed a second of stellar animation. If you couldn’t manage to find a seat, like me, there was still plenty of room to either stand or sit on the floor.

At every event, Cardiff Animation Night strives to showcase independent animated shorts from all over the world. Their aim is to give locals the opportunity to see these unique films on the big screen, to immerse themselves in the films that are making their way through the global animation circuit, while also meeting other like-minded aficionados. At their most recent screening, they showed 11 shorts from the US, Ireland, Poland, France, Belgium, and Israel. 

One of my favourite things that happened during the event was when the second part of the screening was temporarily paused due to some minor flooding happening in Kong’s – we had been blessed by yet another welcoming summer rainstorm. Despite the fact they had brief technical difficulties as they waited for the staff to clean up the water, which extended the showcase by at least a half hour, the room lit up, everyone was still engaged and kept the atmosphere lively.  It was yet another opportunity to turn to the stranger next me and continue conversing about storytelling, animation, and honestly life in general.

If you love animation, work in the industry, or just want to experience something new and have a great night out, then Cardiff Animation Nights is definitely for you. As someone who’s new to the Cardiff animation community, I felt welcome and at home, like I finally found my tribe.

All thanks to the support of the lovely people at Cloth Cat Animation, and from audience donations, Cardiff Animation Nights is run by Lauren Orme, Christopher Wright, Dani Abram, Chris James, Laura Tofarides, Telor Gwyn, Josh Flynn and Adam Bailey; and various other volunteers and individuals from the local animation community and beyond.

by Nia Alavezos

Posted by Lucy Cooper, 0 comments
AWUK go to Aardman

AWUK go to Aardman

Back on the 20th January 2017, we were thrilled to have our launch for Animated Women UK South-West at the renowned Aardman Animations in Bristol!

The aim was to celebrate the magnificent work done by women and companies in this region and where better to host it than where much of the magic of UK animation started!? Aardman is the home of a unique brand of independent film; best known for “Wallace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”, “Pirates!” and their iconic trademark character and show “Morph”. We were very lucky to meet Morph on the day and he’s just as cheeky as ever!

It was fantastic to be joined by such a vibrant industry panel that included a few key representatives from the South-West:

Charlotte Wadsworth, Producer, Arthurcox

Kieran Argo, Programmer and Project Manager

Sally Arthur, Freelance Director and Industry Liaison UWE

Vicky Brophy, Owner, Wonky Films

Erica Darby, Owner and Producer, Spider Eye

Chaired by Animation Consultant and Producer Helen Brunsdon the goal was a discussion of the upsides and downsides of working in the South West for individuals and companies,  the current climate and how to provide encouragement to people considering working in animation. Helen also presented an exciting update about Animation UK - now part of the newly formed UK Screen Alliance providing a collective voice for the Animation & Visualisation sector. Read more here!

Our first-ever Achieve Programme summary

The day’s presentations included a summary of the success of our first ever Achieve Programme by Helen North (Programme Producer and founding board member of AWUK). Sponsored by Creative Skillset, Disney, Turner, The Mill and Escape Studios, it was really inspiring to hear the stories of those who participated and the positive feedback we received. It goes to show there is a real need for continued mentorship and support to senior, mid-level and junior women in the animation and vfx industries!

Presentation on our October 2016 BFX symposium ‘Being yourself – Surveying the experiences of women developing their career in the animation and vfx industries’

To round-up the day, Amy Backwell (Social Media Lead and event co-producer) presented some interesting outcomes from this panel event and ideas on how to fuse Industry with Academia and training workshops. This event was based on some of the original AWUK research conducted by Helen North and Shiona Llewellyn. 8 key threads were identified here and were generalised into two categories: ‘how are women represented on the screen?’ and ‘how are women represented behind the screen?’

One of the main talking points was that currently, there is a lack of strong female role models. The majority of the audience felt that we need to go into primary schools and not just secondary schools and universities to make a positive impact early and make young people aware of the vast creative opportunities and careers that are available to them. A Lighting TD recounted how she had visited a school where nobody knew what that was, let alone that it was something that women could do. Talks like this help challenge stereotypes and open the eyes of future generations.

We also questioned our  industry guests about how they think we should move the South West activity forward. Here are just a few of their responses!

Q: What resources do you think are needed in Bristol & South West for women working in the animation and VFX community?

A: Retraining post children/ career break”, “training around confidence building”,Regular meeting venue for courses & seminars”, “masterclasses, short daily courses focusing on animation”, “ Mentors for mid-level” and “networking with people with funding to create more jobs for women!”

Q: Any other suggestions?

A: It's great to know there's so much research going on - also to hear thoughts of experienced and entry-level women”, “flexible working” and “ research & case studies on how women have balanced work & motherhood”.

To wind down from the day, Bertha’s Pizza in Bristol hosted Animated Women UK’s networking drinks.  It’s a wonderful venue and new family business just down from Gas Ferry Road (it has our thumbs up!)

Animated Women UK would like to thank all of the volunteers and participants who made this such a great event. We really appreciate the feedback provided to help us push this research further. We will be producing a full article on the Bristol and Bournemouth events and the research findings, which will be published on our blog page.

We look forward to catching up with everyone in the near future to see what you took away and implemented in your workplaces and local areas. Our aim is to listen to the ideas of the women in industry and academia, to increase resources, create events, discussion groups and training. We need volunteers, producers, board members and mentors to facilitate the growth and development of Animated Women UK on a national level!

We have people who would like to get together in Bristol.  If you would like to join them, please let us know by emailing!

A big thank you to the team at Aardman Animations and to Bertha’s pizza for supporting us!

Blog by Amy Backwell

Posted by Peri Friend in Events, South West, 0 comments