Shelley Page has had a long and interesting career in the world of animation, and is currently the Artist Liaison for Locksmith Animation. Her credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Prince Of Egypt, Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and, most recently, Ron’s Gone Wrong. She has a wealth of industry experience and will be part of the Animated Connections Conference at the Manchester Animation Festival. We caught up with her to find out more about her work…
STARBURST: What is your top tip for anyone looking to get a career in animation?
Shelley Page: This applies to most careers – but particularly to animation: be persistent! Becoming an animation professional is to embark on a lifetime of learning! Every project brings new challenges and opportunities to develop new skills – and our talented team are always trying out new tools and working methods to support our current and future projects. Working in a studio environment is the best opportunity to work alongside talented and experienced people – and never to be afraid to ask for advice on improving your own work – that’s how we all learn!
What’s the easiest mistake to make when approaching animation, both as a fan and as an aspiring professional?
This may seem an obvious one – but I would say that it’s a mistake not to stay informed about the latest developments in the industry. Every so often, a ground-breaking new animation feature or TV series drops – which has a huge impact on the next wave of projects. For example, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – and the TV series Love, Death & Robots both had a big impact on character design and animation style in general. As an aspiring professional, it’s always great to have a thorough understanding of traditional animation techniques – but you also need to be aware of what studios are looking for currently. 2D animation skills are always appreciated, but for feature animation, we mainly need artists who can express these skills using 3D tools.
What’s been the most fun element of working with Locksmith Animation?
No question – it’s the lovely people I get to work with every day! I joined the studio just as the world went into lockdown – which should have made getting to know the team a bit more difficult. However, actually, the opposite happened! We all bonded over lengthy Zoom meetings and shared challenges, and working on our wonderful movie That Christmas throughout that time has definitely been one of the best and most fun experiences of my entire career!
What are you looking forward to the most with the Manchester Animation Festival?
Connecting with UK schools and students. For most of my career, I have primarily been working with international studios, which meant seeking out international talent, so now that I am working with a UK-based studio again, I’m really enjoying getting to know more about the current animation courses around the UK.
If I can’t make it to the festival, what’s the next best thing?
There are many great animation tutorials available online, including online access to some festival sessions. It’s always worth seeking out animation artists whose work you admire – to see if they have posted tutorials or ‘making of’ videos. For example, many top story artists from the major studios have posted interviews or podcasts online. Also – several of the leading animation schools in France post ‘making of’s’ or teasers of their graduation films via the school website. That’s a great way to see demo reels and portfolios that can be very inspiring. Try looking at the websites of top schools such as Gobelins, ESMA, MOPA, RUBIKA – and The Animation Workshop [Denmark].
What’s the next big thing you are working on that you want to tell the world about?
That Christmas is based on the successful series of children’s books by filmmaker Richard Curtis [Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Yesterday] and marks the feature film directorial debut of renowned character animation and story artist veteran Simon Otto [How to Train Your Dragon trilogy].
The Manchester Animation Festival takes place until November 17th. An online edition will run from November 18th – 30th. https://www.manchesteranimationfestival.co.uk/