The British animation sector boasts a wealth of talent, who are active across commercials, digital and television. But, with the notable exception of Aardman Animations, very few producers ever manage to get animated feature films off the ground.

Shoreditch-based Nexus, however, is hoping to change this. The animation studio, known for Oscar nominated short This Way Up, Cannes Grand Prix winning ad Back to the Start for Chipotle (pictured) and high profile Superbowl spots, has now moved decidedly into features.

Nexus recently won funding from the BFI Vision Awards, worth £200k, to develop a slate of animation features. And it’s just partnered up with Claire Jennings to work on the slate.

Jennings’ impressive CV includes Oscars for producing Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit and short film Father and Daughter. She also worked on the Pingu franchise at HIT, and was recently president of entertainment at US studio Laika.

Nexus co-founder Chris O’Reilly admits that animation’s long lead times mean that it could be four or five years before the first project from the partnership comes to fruition. He says that Nexus is aiming to produce animated films at a European price point and at a lower point in comparison to US studio features. “We’re planning to make independently financed animated features – films with a heart, visual spectacle, and magic.”

He says that raising money for the animated films will be tough, but adds that there is a growing global appetite to fund animated features – citing French studio StudioCanal’s recent partnership deal with Aardman.

And Nexus will be able to tap into the “amazing creative workforce in London.” Says O’Reilly: “This is an exciting development for Nexus and for UK animation as a whole. There have been few opportunities for the UK’s incredible animation talent to develop features.”

Tim Dams

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