Co-Writer and Director Mark Burton and Paul Kewley discuss Shaun the Sheep the Movie at the BFI Southbank | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Co-Writer and Director Mark Burton and Paul Kewley discuss Shaun the Sheep the Movie at the BFI Southbank

06 February 2015

Last Sunday at the BFI Southback, Co-Writer and Director Mark Burton and Paul Kewley brought Shaun the Sheep the Movie to an excited audience ahead of its release today.

Shaun the Sheep the Movie is incredible, family fun, our very own Ellie Holland reviewed the film and we were in attendance at the special screening on Sunday and as an extra special treat, Mark and Paul answered questions put to them by Justin Johnson...



Shaun first came to prominence in A Close Shave back in 1995, effectively he was Nick Park’s creation, and then the T.V show started in 2007. Since then it has been a massive phenomenon sold all over the world and when asked about the decision to take Shaun to the big screen Paul said “From a company perspective Shaun is a character that pre-dates both Mark and I getting involved in this project. The original film was made by Nick, and then the character grew in popularity. The famous anecdote that we talked about - the company – Baby Spice was spotted wearing a Shaun the Sheep backpack and that gave them the idea that maybe Shaun was quite popular so they should make a film. First they started to talk about the T.V series and they started to develop the T.V series for a number of years, and Nick was involved in that. Then Richard Starzack, the other director, worked on it and came up with the angle. The angle was that it was a farm that was like a factory where the farmer was the boss and the animals were the everyday workers. That was the kind of genesis of the original idea. Then he felt for a long time – well he kept saying to me - ‘we should make a film from this, I think there is a film in Shaun the Sheep’ and I said ‘I think you’re crazy, they don’t speak.’ Then Mark came along and said the same thing that we should do this. We started working about three and half years ago.”

Talking about the style of the film, with heavy comparisons to classic comedies, Mark Burton said “We did actually. In fact we had a thing where for a while – it was great, it’s not like it’s not all fun at Aardman but this does sound quite fun – every lunchtime once a week we would have a silent movie. We would just sit and watch it and just enjoy it. We were definitely inspired and in awe of and influenced by silent movies and also by the French Director Jaques Tati who made a lot of films in the 50s that were silent movies with sound. I think that’s the thing, Shaun isn’t a silent movie. We call it a slapstick comedy without dialogue because it’s not really verbal communication because hopefully as you have seen we tell you a lot of things.”



Aardman Animation are known for using characters eyebrows to convey emotion, and as Shaun doesn’t have eyebrows, Mark and Paul were asked if that was a barrier, Mark Burton replied “The animators can use eyelids. We talk about this a lot. We are very influenced by the great Nick Park in terms of people say that Gromit is this amazing character, which he is, but physically Gromit doesn’t actually do a lot; but the way that Nick sets up his story and the emotional ideas when you cut to Gromit you already know what he’s thinking, it’s all there, you reach in for those thoughts. So, I think we were trying to do those same things where sometimes you’ll cut to Shaun and he’ll be doing a little thing but we’ve done half the journey and half the job with the story telling and then letting a little but of subtlety finish it off.”

The moderator asked Animation is notoriously both time-consuming and very expensive, because you had some of the models and the assets from the T.V show were you able to utilise those to cut corners? How does that work from going from a T.V show to film and Paul Kewley answered “It was one of the appeals that we had all the assets made in terms of the look and feel of the world, we knew a lot of the mains characters and we were able to take that and expand it out. It definitely helped us, it helped us get where we are as quickly as we are but it also presents challenges for our team back in Bristol, our Production design, and so we had to think how do we build a world and a city that feels like it belongs in the world of Mossy Bottom. I think they did a fantastic job with that but when you look at it it’s very very different to the world of Wallace and Gromit strangely, it’s a must much more modern take on the world."

Shaun the Sheep the Movie is out now and Shaun the Sheep is incredibly popular with audiences in 170 countries, and when asked about writing film and making it how aware are you of the fact that there is an audience outside of the UK, Burton answered “To be honest we are barely aware of the audience outside of the room. There is a thing when you’re writing, even on something like Shaun the Sheep, you are writing for yourself. You want to make yourself laugh and tell stories that you are interested.  You don’t dumb down, that is rule number one when you are making family movies. I guess we don’t never consciously think: ‘oh here’s a joke for the grown-ups’ or ‘here’s a joke for the kiddies’ or ‘here’s a joke for the French’ or whatever. You just get stuck in and do what makes you laugh.” And Kewley answered “From a producer’s perspective it is something slightly different because when you’re in the room working on the story I agree with Mark, you have to focus on what you like. If you don’t trust your own instincts or those of the people around you you’re not going to make a film. Obviously one of the reasons we are making a film and one of the reasons we finance these films is by making them play everywhere. The lovely juxtaposition of working at Aardman is that we have this kind-of definite voice that the company is known for, and that kind-of slapstick comedy, but we are lucky enough that it travels around the world.”

In Shaun the Sheep the Movie, Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he baa-rgained for! Shaun’s mischief accidentally causes the Farmer to be taken away from the farm, so it’s up to Shaun and the flock to travel to the Big City to rescue him. Will Shaun find the Farmer in the strange and unfamiliar world of the City before he’s lost forever? Join Shaun and the flock on their hilarious, action-packed adventure in Shaun the Sheep the Movie – only in cinemas Spring 2015.



Shaun the Sheep the Movie Film Page | Shaun the Sheep the Moview Review