Seven Questions For Nick Park, Animator Of "A Close Shave"

Academy Award-winning animator Nick Park talked with indieWIRE and an online audience on the production and success of "A Close Shave."

indieWIRE: Hi Nick, How long did it take you finish the short film. What is
the process?

Nick Park: "A Close Shave" took 10 months to shoot, and that was with 5
animators working full-time, producing approximately 5 seconds a day each.
The process is known as stop-frame animation. We specialize in clay
animation, which involves a clay figure being moved in very small increments.
One frame of film is taken for each move made. When you have taken 25 of
these frames, that constitutes 1 second of film.

iW: How did you get into Showbiz?

Park: I started making animated movies at the age of 13. I continued as
a hobby until I was 17 or 18, and my father suggested that I apply for a
degree in filmmaking. This was quite an alien idea to me, coming from
Preston, in the north of England, which is a long way from TV or movies. I
never thought it was possible for someone like me to work in tv and movies,
but one thing led to another.

iW: What was your motivation at age 13 to begin animation?

Park: At school, I was only ever good at one subject, and that was art.
For a long time I wanted to be a comic strip artist, until I discovered that
my parents camera could do animation. I drew flip books, and filmed them.
When I saw my
cartoons come to life, I fell in love with the process.

iW: Where did you get the idea (for) Wallace and Gromit? Where did you
come up with their names?

Park: Gromit is a word my brother, an electrician uses. It's a piece of
electrical wiring insulation, called a Gromit. I just liked the word. I
gave it to the character, which was a cat, at the time. Later, in college,
it became a dog. Wallace was just a name I liked. It's always very
difficult to trace the origins of an idea. They came from sketch books I kept
when I was young. Some people say Wallace has a resemblance to my father,
and some say the same about Gromit. If there is a family resemblance, it
isn't deliberate. It's just something that happened.

iW: What kind of dog is Gromit??

Park: He's completely made up. He's my kind of dog!

iW: What's next for them?

Park: I'm putting W&G on the shelf for awhile, while I work on a feature
film, which doesn't star W&G, unfortunately. I certainly want to make more
W&G films in the future. As a matter of fact, I'm making more W&G whether
people like it or not! I feel that W&G are my children, and couldn't leave
them for too long without making another film.

iW: What would you do if not working in animation or film?

Park: If I wasn't in animation, I think I'd be an artist of some kind,
or a lion tamer! I sometimes wonder what I'd be doing if I didn't discover
that my parents camera had a stop-motion/animation button.