McLaren Award-Winner Will Anderson talks Animation at EIFF

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With a strong Shorts programme and Animation strand, EIFF 2013 looks at the talent behind the last year’s McLaren Award winner, Will Anderson, and his up-and-coming peers.

Edinburgh College of Art graduate Will Anderson was the proud winner of both 2012s McLaren and the Best British Short Film Awards. He also picked up a BAFTA Award – all for The Making of Longbird.

This year he returns to the Festival with Sweetie and Sunshine, which screened to a sold-out audience as part of McLaren Animation 1 on 21 June. McLaren Animation 2 follows on 26 June.

Five fellow ECA graduates are also bringing films to the Festival as part of the McLaren Animation programme series.

“I know a lot of them quite personally,” said Anderson, “they were a few years below me. There are 5 from this year’s graduate class who have films screening in the McLaren programme so it’s a great opportunity for them – maybe one of them will go on to win a BAFTA!”

Any recommendations for EIFF 2013? “Eamonn O’Neill, who I was up against at the BAFTAs this year – I met there and he’s become a good friend. His new film, Left, is stunning. That’s screening in McLaren Animation 1.

“I also want to see I Am Breathing. I really like documentaries, and that’s why I was so happy to work on Jeanie Finlay’s film The Great Hip Hop Hoax.”

Anderson describes working on this feature documentary as, “a bit of a bonus, to be honest. It’s a really nice progression for us, I think. Obviously short films are stepping stones to things but they’re things in themselves.”

Indeed they are, and we also spoke with the ECA graduates whose films are screening throughout the McLaren programme. Here’s what they had to say about being featured at EIFF:

“Being part of the EIFF just right after graduation is a big thing. It is a great opportunity to get feedback on your work, to network and to exchange ideas with professionals of the field. Not last, it is a personal reassurance, essential for an artist.” – Oana Nechifor

“Being featured at EIFF is a fantastic opportunity, as it should give my film, Lagan, some great early exposure, and I'm looking forward to the interesting range of industry events the festival has to offer.” – Peter Shaw

“It is a great honour and a big start. It’s nice to have a film produced locally begin its festival circuit here, and a huge chance for film and animation degrees in Edinburgh to have such a prestigious festival happen so close.”  – Alexandru Nechifor

“I didn't make this film just to watch it on my own... I made it so that people could see it and so I'm very excited about having my film featured at EIFF. As a student in your final year at ECA, the EIFF seems like an extension of the course... I felt almost as if I was making my film in order to be able to submit it for the festival as much as I was making it to get a degree!” – Gavin Robinson

“I'm glad that my graduation project is getting its first public screening in the same city as it was produced as part of EIFF. It's also very flattering to have it played alongside the work of many other excellent animators.” – Ross Butter

A great honour for many, and all have EIFF Animation programmer Iain Gardner to thank. “I have a huge amount of thanks to give to Iain, just in general, for the success of my film,” said Anderson. “When it comes down to it, it’s a film for an audience. It’s for people and it’s people that make it successful.

“Obviously the film has to have a message and be effective and be made well, but it’s for people. Iain’s great at that. He gets a lot of submissions but does also scout out talent and films and he does a very good job of it.”

Animation fans will also love Richard WIlliams: 80 Animated Years, welcoming the animation legend Richard Williams, famed for the Pink Panther and Roger Rabbit, to Edinburgh in celebration of his 80th birthday.

Buy your tickets for the Animation strand online, by phone on 0131 623 8030, or at any Festival Box Office.

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