It is a great honor for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women's International Film & Television Showcase, it only saddens me that my husband, Tony Blanco, cannot be with me to share this moment, as he would be as honored and proud as I am.
I congratulate you on the beautiful initiative to support and celebrate the dedication, passion and integrity of women in film everywhere, and I thank TheWIFTS Board for considering me worthy of this precious award. I am very sorry to be unable to receive it in person. Thank you!
THE WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL
FILM & TELEVISION SHOWCASE
DECEMBER 10TH 2017
Passion & Integrity
Commerce & Creativity
Equality Not Hierarchy
Ruth Fielding - United Kingdom
TheWIFTS Animation Award
Co- Founder Lupus Films
Joint Managing Director
Ruth Fielding, Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director of Lupus Films, is the recipient of TheWIFTS Foundation Animation Award 2017. Lupus Films established in 2002 specializes in feature and television animation films. TheWIFTS Foundation recognizes Ethel & Ernest, the company’s first feature film and the body of animation titles the company has produced since its inception.
Lupus Films led by Ruth Fielding and Camilla Deakin is dedicated to endorsing the individual talents of creative women in the film and television industry. The company ensures that behind its productions is a core team of skilled and professional women working across a range of roles including artists, animators, line producers, writers, actors and directors.
The animation genre once considered niche has grown in stature, in a male-dominated animation industry, female-led Lupus Films is a rarity. Lupus Films attracts new audiences and growing numbers to prime time slots on TV bringing the craft of animation to the forefront.
After winning a prestigious British Film Institute Vision Award, 2016/7 was a phenomenal period for the company. Putting pencils and paint brushes to paper the artists at Lupus Films breathed life into the company's first feature length animation film - a hand-drawn 2D animated version of Raymond Briggs' award-winning graphic novel and tribute to his parents, Ethel & Ernest (1 x 94'). Featuring the voices of Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn and Luke Treadaway and an original song written and performed by Paul McCartney, the film received a star-studded premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, before a cinematic release and transmission on BBC One in the UK December 2016. , Ethel & Ernest was watched by nearly 5 million cross-generational TV viewers (20.8% of the audience share)Across the board in the national press – Ethel & Ernst garnered glowing reviews the UK’s Daily Mail called it ‘the best thing on telly all year’ and the Daily Mirror called it a ‘masterpiece’. The PR campaign generated over 800 pieces of coverage, reaching an audience of over 115m.
Ethel & Ernest continues to be screened at film festivals, and has so far won Best Feature at Anima Mundi in Brazil, at FICAM in Morocco and Best Animation and Best Score at Cartoons on the Bay in Italy.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt (1 x 24'), a hand-drawn 2D animated version of the much-loved classic children's book, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, was transmitted on the UK’s Channel 4 in the popular early evening and teatime slots on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We're Going on A Bear Hunt featured the voices of Olivia Colman, Pam Ferris and Mark Williams and introduced an original song written and performed by internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter George Ezra.
Broadcast over Christmas, We're Going on a Bear Hunt attracted a record audience of 8 million, and was Channel 4's highest rated programme across any genre in 2016. A family favourite for children of all ages, 60% of the audience share were children aged 4-9. Channel 4's then Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt, said: “It's wonderful that so many families enjoyed Channel 4's magical animation of a true children's classic.”
In March 2017, We're Going on a Bear Hunt beat off competition from The Night Manager to win the ‘Best Book to TV’ adaptation at the London Book Week's CAMEO awards. The soundtrack went on to win Best Short Film Score at the 12th edition of the Jerry Goldsmith Awards and the Best Original Composition for a Short Film Score at the Music and Sound Awards.
The success of behind the scenes footage from both Ethel & Ernest and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt on YouTube demonstrates the engagement in the craft itself. In addition the company’s popular preschool television series, Toot the Tiny Tugboat and The Hive, continue to educate and enthral younger audiences on TV networks worldwide about nature and the world around them..
Throughout the 2016/17 production year after dominating the UK’s coveted Christmas time slots, producers and TV animators were kept busy at the company’s North London Studio working on Michael Morpurgo's award-winning book Kensuke's Kingdom - a classic adventure story about a boy and his dog who are washed up on a seemingly deserted island. The book will also be adapted into a mixed media animated feature film, to be directed by duo Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry, whose animation credits include The Last Belle, Junk, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and The Snowman and the Snowdog. The screenplay is written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. In March 2017 a n early trailer for the film and development work was presented to the industry in at Cartoon Movie in Bordeaux to great reception and has attracted the support of the BFI, Film Fund Luxembourg and Ffilm Cymru Wales.
At its London office, the company continues to place both the professional development of staff, and creative innovation at the heart of its operations. The company philosophy endorses the value of teamwork and it aims to provide a collaborative and progressive work environment, offering further training for existing staff members and running extensive trainee programmes for people looking to break into the industry. Its training partners include Creative Skillset, Creative Access, the BFI and Arts University Bournemouth.
Underscoring its intent since April 2014 Lupus has provided training for more than 70 trainees, with the majority of participants learning on the job with mentorship support, receiving training in industry standard software including CelAction, Maya, Toon Boom, Storyboard Pro, TVPaint, Final Cut Pro and Premiere.
Jennifer Zheng – short film Tough winner of Best Animator Award
The company believes passionately in nurturing talent and creativity, but for the collective benefit of the industry. It is a founding member of Animation UK. In its continuing philosophy to support and nurture women working in animation, the company recently were sponsors and judges at the Underwire Film festival. Lupus Films Co founders Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding presented the Best Animator Award to Kingston University graduate Jennifer Zheng for her BAFTA-nominated short film, Tough. Jennifer Zheng will now spend time at the Lupus Films studios and to be mentored by one of heads of department.
Lupus Films also worked closely with the film education organisation Into Film (formerly known as Film Club) which has a membership of 300,000 pupils in the UK to broaden exposure of Ethel & Ernest. This included producing dedicated educational materials to be used in primary schools.
In 2017 Lupus Films was named as one of only 4 UK companies to receive Creative Europe’s Slate Development Funding for a raft of four new feature films, two live-action and two animation. The move into live-action features marks a strategic growth opportunity for the company. The company were praised for their realistic, innovative and creative distribution and marketing strategies for their slate of new feature films.
Ruth Fielding has over 20 years’ experience in the animation industry and has produced TV series and films for all the major UK broadcasters through her award winning company Lupus Films, as well as leading co-productions with France, Ireland, India, Denmark and Wales. Ruth is a creative producer and holds a Masters Degree in text and performance studies from RADA and Kings College and started her career in television making live-action programming before moving into theatre and then animation commissioning at Channel 4 where she met her business partner Camilla Deakin.
Ruth and Camilla left their secure positions at Channel 4 at a time when the animation industry was still predominately male but Ruth has, from the start, been a vocal advocator and a figurehead for the need for women in senior positions.
Ruth was one of the animation producers who sat on the UK Government’s Treasury Working Group to create the Animation Tax Credit, is Chair of Creative Skillset’s Animation Skills Council and sits on the newly created Screen Alliance group for Animation UK. She is a respected authority on the UK Animation Tax Credit and has spoken on numerous panels on the subject including at the Animation and VFX World Summit in Los Angeles in November this year. She also represented Animation UK as part of the UK delegation at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and will do the same at the Kidscreen Summit in 2018 – both pivotal dates in the children’s entertainment industry calendar.