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MDX graduates work on Channel 4’s flagship festive film Mog’s Christmas

14/12/2023
Seven BA Animation alumni worked on Mog’s Christmas, whose all-star cast includes Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miriam Margolyes and Zawe Ashton

Christmas came early for a talented group of Middlesex University graduates who have helped create Channel 4’s flagship festive animated film this year.

Seven BA Animation alumni worked on Mog’s Christmas, whose all-star cast includes Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miriam Margolyes and Zawe Ashton.

Kate Mercer, Ryan Fairbanks, Eleonora Quario, Alex Lee, Sam Langton, Miguel Silva Joao and Rute Simoes recreated the distinctive illustrations of the much-loved book by Judith Kerr as artworkers and background painters and in clean-up roles for the highly-anticipated adaptation.

"I think about the things I learnt from tutors at MDX all the time in my work." BA Animation alumnus Ryan Fairbanks

Artworker Kate, who graduated in 2021, said: “My grandparents are particularly excited about seeing my name in the credits.

“They’ve always adored Mog so I think for them to see me as a tiny part of the Christmas special will be a cherished moment.

“Perhaps some tears will be shed.”

Middlesex University BA Animation graduate Kate Mercer

Middlesex University BA Animation graduate Kate Mercer

Artworker Ryan, 28, said: “It feels great to have got to work on it and it’s fun to see it advertised on TV.

“I’m excited to see what everyone thinks of it.

“I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive family, who are all very proud and excited to see it.”

Some of the MDX graduates were recruited after BA Animation Joint programme leader and BAFTA winning director Jonathan Hodgson emailed alumni about a training scheme being offered by Lupus Films, which is the production company behind Mog’s Christmas.

Ryan, who graduated in 2018, had already worked on several projects with Lupus, including The Tiger Who Came To Tea, which achieved the third-highest ratings on Channel 4 in 2019.

Middlesex University BA Animation graduate Ryan Fairbanks

Middlesex University BA Animation graduate Ryan Fairbanks

The artworking role involves the meticulous task of digitally painting the characters' colours, shading and textures for every frame with specialised brushes.

Kate, who has worked on several BFI-funded short films since graduation, said: “Every stripe on Mog was hand-drawn by an artworker and had to be drawn to follow the curvature of her fur over her body.

“It seems tedious, but satisfying when it comes together with beautifully realistic animation.”

The 23-year-old from St Albans in Hertfordshire, worked on the production for five months.

She said: “The people I worked with on Mog worked so hard and having experienced how much work goes on behind the scenes of an animation production, I know I’ll be proud of the crew when it airs.

“To be honest, I can’t wait for families to see how funny it is.”

A still image from Mog's Christmas by Lupus Films

A still image from Mog's Christmas by Lupus Films

Since graduating, Ryan has been working in hand drawn animation for films, including Space Jam 2, Godmotherd and Kensukes Kingdom.

He said: “I loved my time at MDX.

“I had very inspiring tutors who encouraged creative thinking.

“They opened up my mind to what was possible in the medium we were studying.

“I think about the things I learnt from tutors at MDX all the time in my work.”

Kate also praised the lecturers at Middlesex.

She said: “I always felt a down to earth quality from the course, and I enjoyed the independence that gave me.

“I really believe I've been in the right place at the right time, surrounded by other graduates that have helped me get industry jobs, working alongside them.

“I’m so grateful to them for that.”

Click here to find out more about studying Animation at Middlesex.

Mog’s Christmas will air on Christmas Eve at 7.45pm on Channel 4.

Mog’s Christmas is a Lupus Films production in association with Tabby Tales, HarperCollins Children’s Books and Universal Pictures Content Group for Channel 4 Television. © Tabby Tales Limited 2023

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