Aardman Animation, the UK studio responsible for the "Wallace & Gromit" films and "Chicken Run" have announced a new movie in the works. But it won't be directed by Nick Park, Peter Lord or any of the other great animators employed by Aardman. Instead, children throughout Britain will collaborate on every aspect of the project, including character design, plot and sound effects.
Unlike most of the signature Aardman works, this movie will feature hand-drawn animation. The idea was commissioned by UK modern art museum the Tate Gallery with 3 million pounds (nearly $5 million) in funding provided by the charity Legacy Trust. According to Tate director Nicholas Serota, any child will be allowed to participate on the film, which will be in development over the next two years and will involve at least some level of professional input and supervision (likely from Aardman animators).
Kids will be invited to any of the Tate museums around the UK to participate in workshops, in which the young filmmaker wannabes will take inspiration from artwork on display at the Tate for developing their own ideas. How much adults will be involved is not entirely clear, but according to Aardman co-founder and chairman David Sproxton, at least two-thirds of the screenplay for the film will be written by a professional, with plot holes and other details left open for the children to fill in. For a visual announcement and explanation of the "Tate Movie Project," watch this clip.
As much as I am curious to see how this movie will turn out, at this stage I'm mostly excited that the Tate is taking on its first film sponsorship. The venture calls to mind the ongoing series of films commissioned by Paris' Musee D'Orsay, which includes Hou Hsiao-hsien's "Flight of the Red Balloon" and Olivier Assayas' "Summer Hours," as well as the Louvre-sponsored "Visage," Tsai Ming-liang's new film.
Wouldn't it be cool if an American institution did something similarly ambitious? Not that they'd ever want to be viewed as copycats, but Pixar should totally jump on this idea for children in the U.S. Maybe team up with NYC's MoMa, or more appropriately, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. So often Pixar is criticized (often prematurely) for coming up with ideas that aren't appealing to kids. Maybe if the kids were responsible for the ideas they'd be more accessible to them.
Would you like to see an animated film produced primarily by British children? Should Pixar or another American animation studio take on a similar project in the States?