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A short stroll to the Oscars

08 February 2012

It’s won the top prize at Sundance. And it’s nominated for an Oscar and a Bafta this month. The team behind animated short A Morning Stroll describe how they steered the film to awards and festival acclaim.

The moment that the list of Oscar nominations was unveiled on January 24, a huge cheer erupted from the offices of animation house Studio AKA in Soho.

“Our mouths just hit the floor…we looked quite possessed, like wild warriors charging over a hill,” say director Grant Orchard and producer Sue Goffe of the moment they realised that their film, A Morning Stroll, had been nominated for an Academy Award in the best animated short category.

Their journey to the red carpet in Los Angeles this month began in 2009 when Orchard, an animation director at Studio AKA with commercials credits for Virgin, Compaq and MTV, first began working on A Morning Stroll. The tale of one New Yorker’s early morning encounter with a chicken that plays out over 100 years, it originally began life as a one minute skit and ended up as a six minute short in three chapters with three distinct styles of animation.

Made without any official funding, the animation was worked on by Orchard and staff at Studio AKA in the downtime between commercials jobs. “Commercials are our bread and butter. But we do try and keep personal projects going,” says Orchard.

Once complete, A Morning Stroll was then entered into the Annecy International Animated Film Festival – where it went on to win the junior jury prize.

That single win seemed to set the ball rolling for the film, allowing it to gather momentum on the festival circuit which saw it go on to win 16 other prizes at events such as the Brooklyn Film Festival and the Bradford Animation Festival.

It was also decided to enter the film for the Oscars. But there was a catch. To qualify for a nomination, an animated film either has to play theatrically for three consecutive nights in LA. Or it has to win a top prize at certain key festivals. Since A Morning Stroll hadn’t yet won a top prize, Goffe set about organising a theatrical outing for the film in LA.

Since then, there’s been further acclaim including a nomination for the Baftas as well as winning the best animated short film prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Both Orchard and Goffe are hoping the acclaim for the film might help them get other projects off the ground that they are working on, including two features in development, a pre-school series and another short film. “This shines a spotlight on you for a short period of time. Sometimes nothing comes out of it, but it’s a moment in time to take some opportunities if they come your way,” says Goffe. "But you’ve got to have fun and enjoy it.”

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Margie Bryant
Margie Bryant  | February 8, 2012
I love these comments from Sue Goffe, they are inspiring and humble. Wishing them every success for the Oscars and may the light shine on them for a long time after.

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