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Peter Lord Interview: Morph Kickstarter Goal Reached

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That’s right, after only eight days the first Aardman Kicktarter campaign reached it’s goal of £75,000. Morph is set to start production straight away.

The campaign was helped by the amount of coverage it received from press including the Independent, Telegraph and BBC news. It was good to see how much faith and pride was shown by the public for the little terracotta British institution. During the campaign Peter Lord also celebrated his 60th Birthday and what a great way to celebrate such a mammoth occasion by receiving financial support from all your fans.

Special Morph birthday cake for Peter Lord's Birthday!

Special Morph birthday cake for Peter Lord’s Birthday!

To thank Morph’s followers for their encouragement Pete recorded a special message that was put up on Morph’s Facebook page. So it won’t be long before we see the little guy and all his buddies causing a muck on the great cyber set of the internet. Come back to keep track of the progress of the campaign. Skwigly was able to catch up with Peter Lord in order to ask some questions about the little guy and congratulate him on the campaigns success:

So after so many years why have you decided to bring morph back now?

The truth is we often thought about bringing him back, it would come up in meetings. Then we did a test for a BBC pilot live action project that never got of the ground; it was called ‘Ricky’s Radical Inventions’. Ricky, of the title, would go to schools and do science experiments with kids, we featured morph experimentally, as a kind of side kick to kind of shadow ‘Ricky’. We showed it to people and they said,  “wow it’s great to see morph again” but they didn’t really like the pilot as a whole. Which really reminded us that the people liked him, we like him, I like him particularly, so that forced him back into the front of our mind. So then we started gently enquiring on the Morph Facebook page as to weather they’d be interested in seeing Morph back on screen and it got a great reaction and that was it really.

What does morph mean to you personally?

There’s a question. Well he was mine and Dave’s first creation that ever had a name and a character and so he’s kind like our first born, you feel proud and protective but he’s also grown up, it feels like he’s out in the world he’s doing his own thing and has his own audience and independence almost. I’m very proud of him as people like him so much. If people really connect to a character you count yourself lucky and I hope this experiment with Kickstarter may lead on to something complete unpredictable, to great things for the boy.

Why have you chosen to use crowd funding in order to raise the capital to fund the new series?

Well, yes, once again it was an experiment. The ‘why’ is that I always thought Morph worked best in short sections. In the 80’s we did a serious of shows called the Amazing Adventures of Morph, and later, compilation shows. But the bit that I liked most were the short 90-sec to 1-min sketches we use to do for Take Hart, I like the short format I like the freedom of it, you don’t have to build elaborate stories. If you get into the production of something like Shaun the Sheep its great big lumbering thing that’s expensive and time consuming, so I wanted to do these quick shorts but there isn’t really much out there in terms of broadcasting this kind of thing. So then we thought of YouTube, but we still have to fund the thing. So that’s when we came up with using crowd funding. It’s a new thing to try, its funny to me as part of my day is to think about feature films which cost tens of millions of pound and then swapping back to Morph who’s quick and light on his feet, there’s spontaneity to it all.

It’s fun, the fact that the idea doesn’t have to pass through such a massive filter like a feature film. Due to the nature of feature film work and the money that’s involved every idea has to go though endless filters. Where with Morph we can come up with a good idea, which isn’t always that easy, and discuss it. If I have a problem with a feature film it takes many weeks if I have problem with a Morph script it’s sorted in a matter of hours. The other thing to mention is that with the Kickstarter pitch, all productions have partners, whether that be Sony or DreamWorks or the BBC, but its been a very interesting working with partners so closely on the social media level, with direct contact with them. I like the personal side of it all.

You’ve said you wanted to get the audience involved in other areas of production such as story line. This is a unique part of your campaign – how are you planning to achieve this, and accept submissions?

I’ve been writing a little brief to send out to the people, I’m not expecting anyone to come up with a completed script because it’s very difficult, but the seed of an idea, from which an episode can grows. The initial idea is the most important thing, the way it all ties together as sequence is the challenge. So we’ll ask for people’s idea, and I guess we’ll be kind of swamped, again to prepare people for that a hundred people may suggest Morph plays football but I want them to all feel part of that. Also I want to suggest [in the brief] that there’s a moral universe Morph works in, with sense of right and wrong. But I will defiantly reserve the rights to make sure we don’t make anything I don’t believe in.

Do you intend on modernising the character?

He will be modernised a bit I think. There are two ways we could go about doing this, by getting some young people including those guys on Facebook to write the scripts or suggest settings. When we had him on TV he was used as a training ground for new animators, so new people would come on board and have a little bit of a different idea about him – I’d moderate of course, but in a lot of the cases of change it was the individuals background that influenced there treatment of the character. Also there’s a lot of fun to be had with new technologies and I hope to mix up new and old technologies, the good thing with old technologies is it’s busier so paint and glue and things like that are messy. But you could have a hell of a lot of fun with a smart phone or wii.

The new idea is that it will be set here at Aardman, on a desk here. Were not into the idea of creating a new live action art star like with Take Hart, so he will be situated on a some what idealised animators table, so just of to the side of a set. You’ll have a workstation that’s got a lamp, computer, modelling tools and plasticine etc. That’s where the animator/model makers sit and preparing for their shot or during shots so he/she could have their phone there as well as well as some good old-fashioned comedy props. There is a lot of things in the modern human world that have great potential for Morph.

You’ve managed to succeed your goal – you must be excited?

Yes very! More money means more episodes, which is perfect, it’s quite a nice simple formulae. We have to come up with more stories, but that’s OK because we have 2000+ fans out there working on that. I hope the people that have already backed it think ‘great, now were getting more for are money’.

Will this open up the potential for further crowd funded projects at Aardman, such as Rex the runt?

That’s a good point, I hadn’t even thought about that! We approached this thing with a lot of humility because it doesn’t have to work, it’s up to the people out there, they could turn around and say that they didn’t want this, so I’m very glad they did. The Kickstarter project has caused a lot of excitement around the studio here, people are really fired up by it because it’s a demonstration of popular enthusiasm. This is like getting fan letters but even better, and people putting money down is a great thing, I’d be surprised if we didn’t try it again but then again I wouldn’t rush into it as you have to be sensitive.

The campaign has well surpassed their original goal now but hopes to gain more funding in order to produce more episodes. We at Skwigly wish Peter and the rest of the adman crew the best of luck and look forward to seeing Morph come to life once more. 


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