After the viral sensation of Fuggy Fuggy, the trainee ninja, Greg and Myles McLeod have enjoyed huge success writing and directing animation. They're now represented by Aardman Animations and have been BAFTA-nominated for Codswallop, ArtSparks, Tate Kids and Quiff & Boot.
One of their most popular early works was Fuggy Fuggy, the international viral success featuring an enthusiastic but inexperienced trainee ninja. The non-dialogue animation racked up multiple views online, leading to a whole series of Fuggy Fuggy tales including Fist Of Fuggy and Fuggy Fuggy Christmas. In 2007 Fuggy Fuggy was featured on MTV and later on Mondo Media.
Entering short film & animation competitions also helped the brothers gain recognition as well as building confidence in their own ability as storytellers. They were short-listed by BBC Talent for the New Comedy Awards in 2001 and were finalists in the 2005 NokiaShorts competition for their 15 second epic Homer’s Odyssey.
From that point on the phone began to ring and the duo realised that their work had genuine commercial value. Today they have a burgeoning portfolio of work and are represented by Aardman Animations. In October 2011, they received their fourth BAFTA nomination for their BBC primary education programme Quiff And Boot.
"A great illustration doesn't make for a great animation. You have to consider how the character will move."
For Greg & Myles, inspiration is everywhere and believe it or not their quirkytales can usually be traced back to some sort of life experience. Greg explained, "Stories have to come from things you have been exposed to."
In terms of influences, Greg expressed admiration for the alternative storyteller and cartoonist, Daniel Clowes. Myles explained that he is often influenced by popular literature referencing classics such as Under Milkwood and Twin Peaks. He is also a fan of "silly, non-sensical comedy, like Monty Python and The Mighty Boosh." Their longest work to date, a half hour animation comedy titled The Isle Of Spagg, was strongly influenced by folklore and draws upon many different cultures and tribal art.
The brothers gather these various influences into what they describe as a "pool of inspiration." Myles explained, "I try not to be too swayed by one thing, I usually do the opposite and end up with too many influences!" Greg said of his own style, "I just draw and draw and draw - some of what I produce comes from these influences, some comes from straight out of my head. I quite like wonky perspectives."
The Isle Of Spagg: 2011
The brothers explained that when working in a partnership it can be difficult to agree on an idea. In their experience, "the best thing is to get together as soon as there is a potential idea so that you can go on the journey together. If you leave it too long, you both go in different directions and cannot agree on anything."
The brothers explained that there are two obvious types of idea, "subconscious ideas" that pop into your head as if from nowhere, and "researched ideas" which are based on conscious thought around a specific project such as when brainstorming to meet a specific client’s brief.
The pair think-up new characters and stories in what they describe as, "a metaphorical ideas room," a space where there can be no criticism so as to avoid any self-censorship or embarrassment. They explained, "if you self-check every idea you have, you'll run out of steam very quickly. You have to give all ideas a go."
Profile based on a BAFTA event held at the Barbican Centre in August 2011.
1. Draw more characters than you will ever need. You have to be prepared to let go of the ones that don't work.
2. A great illustration doesn't make for a great animation. You have to consider how the character will move - if it is too detailed or complicated it may not work.
3. Make sure your idea is something that could never be filmed - there has to be a point to it being an animation.
4. When writing for animation you need to think more like a camera person. Your script needs to explain exactly what you want your audience to see.