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‘A Messy State of Affairs’ Scoops the Bristol Regional RTS Student Award

// Featured, Interviews

Once again the regional Royal Television Society student awards celebrates the best student talent in Bristol and with all the films in the animation category being so strong, they did not disappoint this year.

Thursday’s ceremony held at the Watershed saw a fresh crop of excellent student animation films including Tim Allenby’s Grave Mistake, Arty Hunt’s A Messy Sate of Affairs and Between the Trees by Frank Harper.

Each film could not have been more different in terms of style, medium and subject matter. What they do have in common is their striking originality. Grave Mistake‘s comedic timing, witty visual puns and 2D flash aesthetic makes it reminiscent of Newgrounds golden days, whereas Between the Trees uses beautifully constructed sets and characters to explore it’s narrative through performance heavy stop motion animation. A Messy State of Affairs delves into animated documentary world exploring environmentally conscientious issues. Each film in their own right is very deserving of its nomination.

Skwigly spoke briefly to all the animation nominees to find out more about what its like to receive such a prestigious nomination.

Tim Allenby

So Tim, how does it feel having been nominated for the RTS student awards?

It’s an honour to be recognised by such a reputable organisation, and while there’s always the disappointment of being pipped at the post, it was still a good experience – and one I would happily repeat if given the opportunity.

What inspired Grave Mistake?

Grave Mistake had several inspirations, Discworld, Marvel, etc, but one of the real driving ideas behind it was some of the thoughts I’d been having about religion. Every culture has it’s own ideas of the afterlife, with different entry criteria and different experiences awaiting those who were awaited there. I may be atheist, but if I were to believe in an afterlife, this was the only one that made sense – where there was a space for everyone that matched each individual’s expectations, whether that’s sitting in nirvana (so long as you aren’t distracted), charging into battle in Valhalla, or whether they thought the same as OPM – that heaven is a half-pipe.
The film was a way of exploring and trying to convey that idea of multiple parallel heavens, using a character who probably doesn’t have defined expectations of what an afterlife would be like, and a character who is able to go back and forth between worlds (even if he’s banned from being inside the gates). The film’s also a tribute to two friends of mine, one who died in a motorcycle accident, and one who took their own life. I imagine they’d be happy with the half-pipe, so there’s visible graffiti there that I’d like to imagine they would leave.

What are your plans for the future?

My next big move is going to Canada, as me and my fiance have found that it’s easier for me to move to her than it is for her to stay in the UK thanks to the needlessly strict immigration laws. I’ll still be available for freelance for UK clients though, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Frank Harper

What was your reaction to being nominated for the RTS student awards?

I was extremely excited and honoured to be nominated for the awards. To be recognised by the Royal Television Society was really quite amazing.

What inspired the art style and overall look of your film?

My film was heavily inspired by the work of Brian Froud, but I wanted to make something a lot more colourful and vibrant so that it might appeal more to children.

What are your plans for the future?

For the foreseeable future I will be working as a Model Maker at Aardman Animations, while (during my evenings and weekends) writing and preparing the narrative and characters for my next film project.

Arty Hunt

Congratulations! How does it feel to win the RTS Student awards?

It feels brilliant and unreal to win a student RTS award! I was just pleased that my film was going to get a bit of recognition and be judged by such a well established panel and really didn’t want to think about the outcome – especially because Frank and Tim’s films were so strong.

What inspired you to create a factual animation about packaging waste?

Through my late teens I worked at a supermarket and found it crazy that a single village supermarket could churn out so much waste packaging. I thought about how the convenience of a disposable piece of packaging had basically been traded for a large amount of waste in the form of household waste, litter and public bins. I settled on the topic of supermarket packaging for my degree film because it is something that I feel is clearly ridiculous, relatable and possible to make into sub 5 minute film in the amount of time we had at university.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the immediate future are to continue taking on freelance projects. I’m also going to apply for a story-orientated intern-ship in Bristol. In the coming years I’m keen to produce and direct factual and fictional films within a production team.

Interviews conducted by Soukaina Greene.
Learn more about the Royal Television Society awards at

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