Shaun the Sheep – Q&A with Aardman lead animator Will Becher

How do they do it? Meet Aardman’s Lead Animator on Shaun the Sheep Movie

It has been more than 30 years since Nick Park’s Creature Comforts won the first Academy Award for Aardman. The loveable zoo characters put the Bristol based animation firm on the map, paving the way for a succession of Wallace and Gromit films between 1989 and 1995: A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, which have become firm favourites in the British Christmas TV schedule ever since.

Since then Aardman animation has gone global; their stop-motion and clay animation techniques earning them over $1 billion as of February 2020. One of their favourite characters, Shaun the Sheep, has had a career all of his own, branching out from his first appearance in A Close Shave to lead his flock through its own TV series, first broadcast in the UK on CBBC and ultimately broadcast in 180 countries.

The series inspired a TV spin-off Timmy Time, featuring Shaun’s younger cousin and aimed at younger viewers, and the full length feature film, Shaun the Sheep Movie, (2015) which we will be screening at this year’s Chiswick in Film festival.

Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas was a television Christmas special which followed Shaun’s movie success, and a second feature film, Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon followed in 2019. The short film, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, was released on Netflix on 3 December 2021.

Shaun has a flock of followers across several generations and we are pleased to introduce one of his creators, Lead Animator Will Becher, alongside Rob Sprackling, who has been part of the writing team at Aardman, amongst his scriptwriting and directing credits (Gnomeo and Juliet; Mike Bassett: England Manager).

Images above: Will Becher leading a stop-motion masterclass for Aardman; Rob Sprackling

Who knew where a summer spent making clay wings for animated chickens might lead?

Will began his career in the late nineties when he landed a summer work placement on Chicken Run – building ‘clay wings’ in the model making department. During his degree in Animation in Edinburgh he kept in contact with Aardman, and on graduation was invited by Nick Park to join the animation team on Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, becoming one of Aardman’s youngest ever feature film animators. The film went on to win an Academy Award and a BAFTA.

He then became Lead Character Animator on both The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and Shaun the Sheep Movie and went on to direct Shaun the Sheep Series 5 before taking the role of Animation Director on Early Man, about a group of Stone Age valley dwellers who have to defend their land from bronze-using invaders in a football match.

In 2018 he co-directed the BAFTA nominated A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.

Will and Rob, and more importantly Shaun himself, will be at Chiswick Cinema for a Q&A after the screening of the Shaun the Sheep Movie at 10.30am on Saturday 30 September.

I have so many questions! But this is a session for children and their parents / carers and the floor is all yours …

Book tickets on the Chiswick Cinema website.

chiswickcinema.co.uk

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Rob Sprackling and his family are long term residents of Chiswick.

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar