The co-creator of animated children’s shows Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is giving back to the university that helped carve his successful career.
Phil Davies says that without MDX his popular characters would not exist.
After starting work in the music industry in the Eighties he worked as a technician in Middlesex Polytechnic’s graphics department before branching in to animation.
“I got involved with a feature film starring Peter Sellers because I had a motorbike and the cameraman needed a shot so I ended up with the job,” Phil said.
“My father used to make little animated films when I was a kid so I had some idea but I didn’t have any formal qualifications at all.”
While working for MDX, Phil met Mark Barker and Neville Astley. Two decades later the trio formed Astley Baker Davies in 2012 and Peppa Pig was born.
“Those shows are completely down to Middlesex,” Phil said.
“It is a sheer fluke that we went with Peppa as we were quite a long way down the road with creating an animated feature film in America with Paramount but we pitched it at an event and got a really good response.”
Phil said that despite having no experience in children’s animations, the trio wanted to create simple storylines that appealed to youngsters.
“Peppa really is a bunch of short films, there just happens to be 384 of them!” he added.
Now Phil, an MDX Honorary Doctorate, will help fund film projects for students on the BA Animation Programme.
“Many students see a complete disconnect between what they’re doing at university and what they are going to do afterwards, especially in film and television,” he said.
“They see lots of celebrities running around the place and they see films in the cinema and they might even know people in the industry, but they still feel it is a bit of a mystery, how you go from A to B.”
Phil believes students should be encouraged to engage with the industry they want to work in, while they are still at university.
“The ideal is getting them to make a final film that can be shown at a festival,” he added.
Phil's advice for students was to be prepared to do any job that is going. "Don’t be precious about what you are going to do immediately after leaving university.
“You can be working on anything but you can make it your own, you can absolutely make a difference to any frame and bring your expertise to it and the skills needed to make characters on screen live and breathe can be used in any type of animation.”
The BA Animation degree at Middlesex University is very highly regarded. Embracing all types of animation, it helps aspiring animators to develop production skills, ensuring they gain the experience needed to work in today's highly competitive and exciting animation industry.