Jessica Cope & Simon Cartwright - two friends I met at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) - have recently completed their new short animated film, The Astronomer's Sun; and if you're in the UK there is every chance that you can watch it at a cinema near you over the coming weeks as part of the British Animation Awards 'Public Choice' screenings.
Jess & Si both graduated from ECA in 2008 after producing their graduation films: The Owl House and Splendid Isolation respectively.
The Owl House was screened at the Flip Festival in Wolverhampton at the beginning of November 2008, was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award in March 2009, and went on to get screened in the McLaren Animation Awards programme at the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
A short time later Jess & Si won a commission from 4Mations Digital Shorts to create one of 13 "ambitious, original and thought-provoking animated short films from new and emerging animators" with backing from the UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund, Channel 4, and Screen Yorkshire.
The resulting film is The Astronomer's Sun - a 6 minute stopmotion film in the wonderful trademark style of Jessica Cope, about "a young man who visits an abandoned observatory to confront memories of his past and follow his father on a journey into the unknown".
Stills, production photos, and further information about the film can be found on its production blog at: http://theastronomerssun.blogspot.com
Their film is showing in Programme 3 of the British Animation Awards, where the audience will get to vote for the best piece of animation in various categories. And after the votes from all 27 screenings across the UK are counted, the most popular piece from each category will be declared the winner at the British Animation Awards ceremony later this year.
Interestingly, each winner receives as their trophy an original piece of sheep-inspired artwork* created by notable artists from the animation industry: Previous contributing artists include, amongst many others, Nick Park and Tim Burton!
You can see all the previous trophies in the Awards Gallery of the British Animation Awards website here.
*("Sheep-inspired trophies" are due to the fact that the initials of British Animation Awards is "BAA" - which is commonly known as the sound of a sheep's bleating).
Amongst the other nominated animations are:
The 2009 OSCAR-nominated This Way Up (Smith & Faulkes, Nexus),
Simon's Cat - 'TV Dinners' (Simon Tofield, Tandem Films),
Codswollop (The Brothers McLeod),
Fields of Vision (Rob Zywietz),
The Black Dog's Progress (Stephen Irwin, Animate Projects),
Coldplay's Strawberry Swings music video (Shynola, RSA Films),
several Cadbury's Creme Egg adverts (Chris Cairns, Partizan),
and the CompareTheMarket.com Jingle advert [AKA: the original "Compare The Meerkat" advert] (Darren Walsh, Passion Pictures).
To see a full list of all the animations that are showing in each of the three British Animation Awards programmes over the coming weeks, please visit: http://www.britishanimationawards.com/public_choice2010.htm
The Astronomer's Sun will be screened as part of Programme 3, which is screening at the Filmhouse cinema, Edinburgh on Wednesday 24th February. Tickets for this screening will be available to buy online from the Filmhouse website here.
The other 26 national screenings will take place at the following locations:
Belfast, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Dundee, Exeter, Falmouth, Farnham, Glasgow, Harrow, Lincolnshire, London, Liverpool, Maidstone, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Ormskirk, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Staffordshire, Totnes, and Wolverhampton.
To read the full list of Dates & Venues for each programme screening, please visit: http://www.britishanimationawards.com/Venues_playdates.htm
If you're interested in this, please try to attend one of the screenings, and then help out Jess & Si by voting for The Astronomer's Sun.
Images copyright of: The Astronomer's Sun, 2010.
Images used with permission from Jessica Cope.
UPDATE - 9 October 2010:
The Astronomer's Sun was broadcast by Channel 4 for the first time on Thursday 7 October, and for the next month it can be viewed on Channel 4's 4OD (4 On Demand) internet screening service by clicking here.