Halas and Batchelor, the studio behind the UK’s first commercially released feature film Animal Farm, hits its 75 year anniversary today -18th May 2015.
To celebrate this anniversary of one of UK animation history’s most important studios, a new blog has been set up by Vivien Halas, manager of the Halas and Batchelor Collection, and Jez Stewart, animation curator at the BFI, that will chart the progression and selected highlights from the studio’s history over the next year.
The Halas and Batchelor studio was created in 1940 shortly after the marriage of John Halas and Joy Batchelor primarily creating propaganda, training films and advertisements during the war years. Within this time, the first animated feature to be produced in the UK, not the aforementioned Animal Farm, but the army training video Handling Ships was created. As it didn’t see a commercial release its Orwell inspired predecessor often gets the credit as the UK’s first. The studio continued the tradition for instruction and explanation through film with the Charley series in which cartoon everyman Charley would tell cinema goers about the newly formed NHS, new towns and other subjects that a rapidly changing post war Britain was getting used to.
Throughout the years the studio produced short films, music videos and television series. The studio took a step away from state sponsored propaganda and began developing their own films in a variety of styles such as Magic Canvas, The Figurehead, The Owl and the Pussycat and more. Amongst these films Automania 2000 was the first British produced animated short film to be nominated for an Oscar.
The work of Halas and Batchelor is kept alive by the tireless work of Vivien Halas, who was tasked by her father to do so in his later years. The tremendous work in highlighting the studios legacy and place in the UK animation history span books, short films and the upkeep of the Halas and Batchelor collection, an archive of the studios work that preserves and protects the memory of the studio. This latest blog is the next step in the promotion of the studio and we at Skwigly are thrilled to see it.
In recent years a comprehensive history of the studio have been released in book form, Halas and Batchelor Cartoon: An Animated History and more recently A Moving Image present an in depth look at the studio, whilst the second book focusses on the often overlooked position of Joy Batchelor within the company. A new disc featuring 18 of the best short films by the Halas and Batchelor studio will also be released in its anniversary year.
John Halas Remembered
Additionally, a newly-updated version of the documentary “John Halas Remembered: An Animator Ahead Of His Time (1912-1995)”, has also been released online:
Happy anniversary Halas and Batchelor! Here’s hoping that your legacy can live on and be celebrated as the essential part of UK animation history that it is for many years to come.