Sunday, 30 October 2011

Cosgrove Hall

Anyone who grew up in the UK in the 70's or 80's will be familiar with the work of the animation company Cosgrove Hall, whether you realise it or not! From Chorlton and the Wheelies, Jamie and his Magic Torch, Danger Mouse, Wind in the Willows or Count Duckula the list goes on and on. They produced some of the funniest 2D and technically brilliant stop motion animation of their time.

I remember being transfixed by the Pied Piper of Hamlin feature animation, all done with beautifully crafted stop motion puppets, and the Wind in the Willows was just sublime. I've always wanted to meet them both so was just over the moon to see that they were both to be part of the Saturday Schedule for the Flip Festival in Wolverhampton.
It didn't disappoint Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall sat for 2 hours and reminisced about their days as the top animation studio in the UK, talking candidly about how they set up their first studio in Brian Cosgrove's garden in something called 'The Magic Shed' where they produced Chorlton and the Wheelies - a result of a dream Brian had, coupled with the fact that heads on wheels were easy and quick to animate! They then discussed Danger Mouse, the importance of a good voice being the essence of the character, their favourite productions (Brian's being Danger Mouse and Mark's being The Pied Piper, which he directed and produced) and the animation process in general. The morning was filled with fascinating stories; from when they collaborated with Chuck Jones to Disney arriving at the studio to discuss with them how they were able to produce cartoons at such a cheap price (the UK's animation budget being poles apart from that in the US).
After 25 years of animation production Cosgrove Hall's studio was closed down by ITV in 2009. Nevertheless once an animator always an animator and it was wonderful to hear both men talk so passionately about a subject they clearly never really retired from, so it came as no surprise when they announced that they were actually going to ressurect Cosgrove Hall the animation company and begin producing again! Two projects are already in production ('The Hero Gliffix' and 'Pip') and hopefully more to follow. It was wonderful to see both Brian and Mark talk so openly about their work and be so positive about the future. They were both so nice and approachable and I feel fortunate to have been in the audience. 

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