December 31, 2013

Rocking my World in 2013

Career highlights

  • Graduating from De Montfort, before moving on to freelancing. Sod’s Law that I got the worst flu in my first week of work
  • I was a runner up of the Business Venture Competition at DMU
  • Prince’s Trust, Spring into Action and Startup Loans supported me with starting up, marketing and finances. I used the loan to purchase software and communication tools. A proper website, at last!
  • I had somewhere to_ teach young people to draw from life, capture and observe what they see at the SkyRide event. With the O2 Think Big grant I also bought an HD camera which is great for wildlife footage.
  • I was a student of Michael Morgan’s Summer Animation program, improving my skills in 3D animation, nailing down the weight and balance. That reel was ready to be shown at…

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  • Escape Studios’ VFX Festival. It was amazing to meet so many folks who were pumped for the industry. The panel debate. The Gravity presentation. The afterparty was like the party I missed at uni. But better, it was proper networking!
  • If there was anything that could beat that occasion, it was the reaction on Georgina’s face from showing her the result of pencil tests I had taught her to do, and the final animation. It was to be part of our Gold Arts Award participation. Emma of Enter Edem made the recommendation; I then met Georgina, which overall led to a very lovely experience, sharing each other’s art practice. How wonderful it was to see her and other talented artists take to the stage! Brought me to tears.
Film/TV highlights
  • Many of us dressed in green in support for VFX professionals, after Rhythm N Hues, despite winning accolades, signed for bankruptcy.
  • On the other hand, traditional animation is once again cooler than bow ties, merging with old/new tech to produce anything from Paperman to the Bear & Hare ad campaign.
  • Talking of beautiful works of art, it was a good year to be a Cumberbabe. Even when the Benedict was playing Big Bads, I still get warm and fuzzy seeing his name in the credits. It’s been that way for nearly 10 years since Hawking.
  • Last year I made a promise to see any big movie in IMAX 3D. Any day I was in Cardiff Bay, I caught Pacific Rim and Gravity on opening weekend and day respectively. The latter was the best presented. Things would fly slowly or rapidly into you. It evoked something that few movies have given me of late. WONDER. I hadn’t felt that way since Coraline.
  • Ironic that I bought my iPad right before watching The World’s End, if you know what the themes and twists are. Possibly my favourite of the Cornetto trilogy – not just because I love mint flavour above all else – it was nuanced, deeply affecting, funny as hell, and aims higher with social commentary on gentrification.
  • Caught Let’s Plays of The Last of Us, which grabbed me and never let go. Likewise, World War Z had one or two nerve-shredding sequences and a sense that was almost on par with Jurassic Park.
  • Shortly after that, Peter Capaldi was announced as Doctor 12. We realised he played “WHO Doctor” and all of us laughed for a good 5 mins. Even I initially pointed out, W.H.O. based in Cardiff? Love how my favourite city gets name checked in a Hollywood film.
  • The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who was another lovely communal experience shared with the world. Whereas An Adventure in Space and Time was profoundly more moving, ‘Day of the Doctor’ had the mother of all fangasms. It was impossible to frown upon.
  • Summer for me was dominated by catching up on Breaking Bad. Like a book that’s impossible to put down, every season is a daring mix of humour, character development, twisted morals, beautiful cinematography, career-defining acting, moments that shake you. ‘Ozymandias’ even made me yelp loudly on a coach; ‘Felina’ left me beaming, elated, and satisfied.

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  • Mum was obsessed with The White Queen, which prompted me to sketch an iPad drawing of Richard III. That was then retweeted and favourited by Aneurin Barnard, spreading over his fan community for a little while. Wasn’t expecting that, neither did I expect Peter Serafinowicz to Follow me. He was praising The Princess and the Frog; myself and the director of Flushed Away joined the chat. That was a great evening.
  • Out of the only three fully-animated feature films I saw theatrically this year, Frozen is my firm favourite. Love the design; the sister’s relationship is ultimately, genuinely moving; Let It Go, so spine-chillingly good! Prepare yourself for it is a proper Disney musical, and I’m a sucker for that.
  • Desolation of Smaug – Hobbit 2: Big Ass Spiders – finally took us to the fireworks factory Milhouse was itching to see. The Inside Information sequence would make a terrific survival game. The stuff of nightmares. Just started reading Alex Alice’s Siegfried graphic novel. Tolkien found plenty of influence in The Ring of Nibelung, no doubt about it.


Let’s keep it brief…
  • Months after rethinkyourmind’s prize presentation at House of Lords, the Yellow Book launch took place at Rothley Court. Tanya and me spent all day there; we hung out with Rubie Colt, Refuge, SISO and made more new friends.


  • National galleries; rethinkyourmind’s prize giveaway at Cholmondeley Room, tea and scones, drinks at Leicester Square; free hugs – “LET ME LOVE YOU!” – outside the Empire cinema; random Lee Ryan encounter; Carnaby quest – failed to find the Rolling Stones shop, which, like the Wardrobe, must have moved to another location; and an eccentric Mexican bus driver who took us back home.


  • I couldn’t miss out on beach weather, so during the hottest week in July, South Wales had twice as many treats, (although the washed up dogfish on the sand don’t count). The moment the business loan was in my account, I immediately bought a MacBook Pro and celebrated with a meal and dessert down the Mumbles. Before then was my first IMAX experience and the Cardiff Food Festival. Caswell Bay has not changed a bit, it was like visiting an old friend.
  • On both occasions I stayed with Nana, everything just seemed to come together. I helped her adjust to her iPad, in return she cooked a gravy dinner on all three nights, bless her. Bonfire Night was quite spectacular in Port Talbot.
  • Stepping into the actual TARDIS set, now that rarely happens. It was very warm in there. Follow that with lunch at Mimosa and see Gravity in the best way possible, 7/5/2013 was seriously the best day ever. No question.
  • Before heading to Vue West End, I couldn’t not visit Speedy’s Cafe. It’s a small, welcoming cafe that’s also a wee church for Sherlock fans. Also lucky to be in Trafalgar Square at sunset; the following morning the British Library had treasures of the literary kind on display.
  • The Good Food Show made me love cheese and cranberry and pesto and wine. The Hairy Bi’ers were entertainingly NSFW.
  • Britain won Wimbledon, Leicester lost to Hull for the City of Culture title
  • HOLY SHEEP was that a meteor over in Russia
  • There was an ad that popped up occasionally in full or abridged. It featured an adorable Westie with his old master. None of us expected to be so moved by something advertising pet food.


  • Simple Minds rocked De Montfort Hall with new songs and classics.
  • Round the corner from finishing the Gold Arts animation, Sam Bailey arrived in town. It was a strange experience seeing her, like after suddenly ascending into stardom she finds the time to come back to earth.
  • As much as I will miss new weekly podcasts, shut down at just the right time. I owe them for getting me through university, and making me think differently about film.

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