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September 12, 2016

The Future Needs Us

Whether it’s Framestore, Nexus, Passion Pictures or RKCR/Y&R, I’ve always been inspired by their approaches to advertising BBC drama seasons, sports events, Christmas, and of course Doctor Who. Recent trips to the set and social events gave me that push to develop an idea for a trailer/ident into something truly special.

For my approach I used my drawing and digital production skills to design a speculative campaign that will tie in with Series 10, airing next spring, getting both casual viewers and hardcore fans hyped for Pearl Mackie’s first series as companion Bill.

Family, friends, the fan community and even the cast and crew have supported me on my creative journey, so anything is possible…

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‘Friend from the Future’ and on location set reports served as inspiration for the animation. The script uses audio, mixed with lines from that preview clip and the Draw My Life edition of Doctor Who: the Fan Show, as well as my own voice recording, which became the foundation for the story:

When Bill stays behind to ask her lecturer about his background, his reply gives his student a vision of the fantastic adventures in space and time.

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Crudely drawn thumbnails show ideas collated from and based on fan experiences, casting news, set reports, research and moments from previous series. Although animatics served as the blueprint, the script became more refined during the post production process. Music by Murray Gold and Two Steps From Hell (no copyright infringement intended) brought a tone to the piece.

I wanted to make every show/frame feel alive.

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While capturing his range of expressions, clothing, hairstyles and personality, I have yet to settle on a ‘final’ design for the Doctor. I always imagined him as a zen master, especially after all he’s been through.

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Susan’s brief appearance in the piece represents something deep within motivating the Doctor to take on adventures and challenges.

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Concept art and storyboards for scene 6 and the 20 second ident

This project has been the wall I’ve been punching through for quite a while, yet there were many joyous days spent making what now looks like a lively launch trailer that sells the message of being a positive influence – and the promise of new adventures – beautifully. Such an endeavour can only be done with pure love and passion.

Before taking on the challenge as well as a few personal challenges of my own, I found many things deep within myself… Courage. A sense of calm. My connection to family and fandom. And the pure unrestrained joy of bringing things to life. Those and setting milestones helped me think more intuitively and stay focused. I was able to shake off my insecurity, free up my mind space, and try new things while playing to my strengths. The references, audio mixes, Toon Boom Harmony, Motion and pencils have all been tools to achieve 95% of my original intent.

The production also brought me back to my university days, fitting as the most enjoyable lectures fired up my imagination. Throughout the development I have captured the immersive, transcendent experience of being a loyal fan and companion of the Doctor. Any journey is about the relationships, because it’s who you share that journey with that makes it worthwhile.

I have been lucky to receive some praise and encouragement from the folks that inspired it. It had led me through some difficult, plodding months.

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Photography by Karlie Heenan

As soon as the heavens opened over Kingsweston, Bristol, the Time Lord, Oscar-winning filmmaker, Zen Master and Scottish charm factory Peter Capaldi watched it intensely, before lighting up, delighted with the “brilliant work.” Pearl Mackie and Michael Pickwoad also saw it.

I present to you, for your viewing pleasure, Peter watching my animation tests on the two occasions, side by side. I hope he doesn’t mind this!

And almost one year after the Series 9 launch, I bumped into Steven Moffat outside the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and showed it to him. He thought it was lovely, but did say that because of the nature of the show – everybody wants to be in it – it’s trickier to break into. He added YouTube would be the ideal platform.

This man wrote Heaven Sent. Don’t ever take that away from him. And he’s working like a mother to deliver the best damn swan song.

I have to finish this chapter.

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