Share A Story is a BAFTA award winning series of films created by CITV with the help of in-house animators/designers and animation studios throughout the UK. But the inspiration for the interstitials comes from the CITV audience so animators find themselves at the beck and call of the real creative minds behind the work, the children!
The eight stories themselves are cooked up in the creative minds of the children who are selected as part of an annual competition that has gathered over 7,000 entries this year in a range of age categories, selected by CITV and organised by First Light, who have the daunting task of sifting through the thousands of entries of storyboards and story sheets. Once the winning stories are selected the animation is divided up between CITV’s in-house animation team and different animators and companies to ensure a broad range of styles and extra creativity that make the shorts so endearing. Of course the children are involved during production during visits to CITV to see where the work takes place.
The winning entries of this years competition have been interviewed individually by Skwigly writers and can be seen on the CITV channel and ITV player from 28th October
David Heslop has been overseeing the project since 2011 and talked us through this unique experiece for both the winning children who enter a story and the production team behind it!
Could you tell us a little about the selection process?
The kids send in a six panelled storyboard page and a story sheet which has the beginning, middle and end on it. My first task once the winners have been selected is to adapt that into a script that lasts less than a minute. Once it is written we create a sixty second long guide track that the animators work to. There are interesting challenges that come from that in terms of how much the kids write and the type of stories there are, sometimes they are narrative based which need careful editing so we can then work closely with the animators to put something together visually. In The Grumpy Pizza the script says “he hated the cold” but it was more interesting to have the pizza say “I hate the cold” which loses words and saves time plus it is more fun to get the kids to do more voices.
They’re not all long stories My Motorbike is probably our shorted this year which is about six sentances but the way it is paced is charming and sweet, what was great about that is when we did the voiceover Alex recorded loads of different noises for the short, chicken chucks, cows mooing, travelling up and down hill shouting with “I can see my house from here!” which is fun to do.
How many entries do you get?
It goes up every year. We started with 1,000 entries in 2010 and its steadily risen each year reaching over 7,000 this year. We’ve increased our marketing and promotion of the competition each year but possible the biggest impact has come through tapping into the schools network , working alongside teachers providing story writing lesson plans and also visiting past winners schools conducting creative writing workshops which have been great fun to do.
Is it hard to judge worthy winners? What do the kids get out of it?
It is very hard to pick, you get so many great stories and all potential winners so its very hard to choose only eight. This year we passed on the task of choosing the final 8 to a panel consisting of previous Share a Story winners, who all took their roles very seriously. One of the brilliant things is that it has quite a big effect on past winners, so one of the girls that won in 2010 took up animation and now makes her own stop motion films, one of the guys was quite a shy boy who really enjoyed doing the voice over so asked his mum if he could do more performing and got into an acting group. The last I heard of him he was cast as Oliver Twist in their version of Oliver, it is nice to see them all inspired afterwards. Its my favourite part of the job.
How do you choose which animation suits which animator?
The judging process is handled by First light, a kids filmmaking charity who whittle it down to the shortlist alongside one or two members of CITV staff and other animators and TV producers The finalists panel then consists of the animators who will be animating the shorts and these 20 or so stories are then judged by the past-winners panel. We try and play to strengths and interests when it comes to selecting the animators it is very rare that an animators ends up with something there have not seen or aren’t inspired to bring to life.
The voiceovers are great, and fit into the “For kids, by kids” ethos. I’ve seen voice actor Marc Silk being mentioned, do the kids work with him?
Marc is brilliant, as part of the winners visit to CITV he conducts a voice over masterclass with the kids. The kids really have fun with Marc, most of the time the kids say it is there favourite part of the day, even the shyest kids come out of their shell when they get in the booth.