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A little chat with Aardman Animation's Richard Goleszowski

A little chat with Aardman Animation's
Richard Goleszowski

Good afternoon, animation fans! For the past two decades, Aardman Animation has thrilled audiences young and old with a top-notch resume of claymation shorts and feature films. Their most famous creation to date has been Wallace and Gromit, but the company has proven to be anything but a one-trick pony. DVD Talk Reviewer Randy Miller III recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Richard Goleszowski, director of Aardman's recent ongoing series Creature Comforts (based on the award-winning 1990 short by Nick Park), as well as Robbie the Reindeer and Rex the Runt. The following quick round of questions were answered via e-mail, unfortunately preventing any off-the-cuff banter and witty comebacks. Even so, we hope you'll enjoy them.

(Begin transmission)

Greetings from DVD Talk!

Hello to you too!

For those unfamiliar with your career, could you shed light on your early professional work?

I joined Aardman in 1983, as Aardman's first employee. I came in to make sets and props for a short film being made by Peter Lord and David Sproxton. It was very much a cottage industry then, and I was also the runner, sandwich maker, washer-upper and general slave.

What led you to pursue a career in animation?

I didn't expect it to become a career, but I was always a fan of Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, quirky British children's animation, as well as the more 'art-house' stuff I saw while at college.

How did you first meet Nick Park and the Aardman staff?

I met Pete Lord and David Sproxton when they came to see me. I was making a short stop-frame film while borrowing a friend's studio. Nick joined Aardman a couple of years later and finished his graduation film, 'A Grand Day Out', while doing other commercial work for Aardman. He stayed with me for a while, living out of a tiny suitcase.

What was/were the main reason(s) that led you to join the company?

I came in for just a few weeks, but Pete and Dave kept finding other things for me to do. As I said, I thought it would be a fun thing to do for a while until I found a job, but then Aardman became busier and busier. More professional, and I started to get paid too!

Is it really as fun as it looks behind the scenes at Aardman?

It's much more fun than making plastic bags, which I did for a while.

What is the single proudest moment in your career thus far?

I directed Robbie the Reindeer, which won a BAFTA for the production team. I got to wish my daughter a happy birthday live on TV. Also, I'm very proud of the success of Creature Comforts.

Could you bravely admit the silliest mistake made during your career thus far?

Um...booking the wrong Simon Day for a recording session for Rex the Runt.

I love how the new series stays true to the original "Creature Comforts" short. Aside from higher production values, how has the overall process changed or evolved since 1990?

The original "Creature Comforts" was a one-off, five minute film. Making a series is a whole different kettle of bananas...I don't know where to start! Nick sculpted each frame for the original film. These days, the characters have mouth replacements which speeds up the process. We [also] shoot digitally rather than use film, which makes life a whole lot easier.

How long does it take to produce the average finished 9-minute Creature Comforts episode?

This varies from episode to episode, as some were harder to find the material for. But to give you an idea, an animator would produce about 3.5 seconds of animation a day, sometimes 45 seconds a day across the whole team.

How many hours of dialogue were recorded for the first season?

We conducted over 650 interviews and nearly 1000 hours of recording.

How involved were you with each aspect of the production, including the DVD?

The team was just small enough for me to get around all departments. I didn't have much to do with the technicalities of producing the DVD, but I approved all the visuals.

What were your favorite cartoons, animated films, and/or comic books as a kid?

I loved "Beryl the Peril"...bet you've never heard of her! (NOTE: I haven't!) Anything and everything was an inspiration to have a go at it myself.

How about as an adult?

I'm just a fan-boy.

Finally, the big question: at what age did you learn to spell your last name correctly?

28.

(End transmission)

Well, there you have it. On behalf of animations fans everywhere, DVD Talk wishes Richard and the rest of the Aardman team a massive amount of success in their future projects. Be sure and check out Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit in theaters soon, and also be on the lookout for Richard's upcoming feature film, Tortoise vs. Hare, in 2007. Thanks for reading!

DVD Talk Review Links: Creature Comforts: Season 1 | Robbie the Reindeer | Rex the Runt


Randy Miller III is a cartooning instructor hailing from Harrisburg, PA. To fund his DVD viewing habits, he also works on freelance graphic design and illustration projects. In his free time, Randy enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.
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