London International Animation Festival 2023

Animation Industry Event 2: 20/20 Vision - Looking Back at 20 Years of LIAF

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LIAF presents the 2023 UK Animation Industry Event – 6 panels giving insider access to some of the hottest topics of the year. We’ve gathered together some of the most passionate, honest and insightful experts from a wide range of different areas and backgrounds who are ready to cover all manner of vital topics to give you much food for thought.

Animation doesn’t stand still; and debates and discussions with animators and creative experts are the best way to get in touch with what’s happening. This year we’ll be looking into the minds of some of the most creative forces currently working in the field of the animated documentary, discussing the intrinsic role of the Animation Producer and how do you get to become one, finding out whether animation can be a viable and satisfying career for people who are neurodiverse, looking back at the meteoric growth of the UK animation industry over the last 20 years and looking forward to how the next 20 years might develop in CGI, 3D and general technology.

The panels will be chaired by Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement at Escape Studios and Julian Scott, animation consultant at Film London.

For anyone currently working in the film and animation industry, thinking of working in the industry or just plain curious, these 6 talks are indispensable. They are free to everyone and take place live and online on our streaming platform over the 2 days of December 2 and 3.

UK Animation Industry Event 2: 20/20 Vision - Looking Back at 20 Years of LIAF

LIAF is twenty years old, meaning it’s older than YouTube (2005), Facebook (2005), and shares a birthday with iTunes (2003). Back then the UK Animation industry was growing thanks to new technology and the proliferation of university animation courses. In 2003 Flash animation software was starting to be popular. Finding Nemo and The Animatrix were causing a stir (and My Little Pony: A Charming Birthday not so much…) but Spirited Away won the Oscar. The ITV animated sci-fi series Bounty Hamster never really took off, whilst the Space Shuttle Challenger did, with disastrous consequences. The first episode of Peppa Pig was yet to be aired. We went to the cinema to see the final Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Gamers were happy playing Final Fantasy on the Playstation 2. Things were changing fast.

We brought together a bunch of animation innovators who were essential in different ways to the meteoric growth of the UK animation industry at that seminal time. What do our seasoned professionals remember about the industry in the new millennium, and how the industry developed? They’ll share some of the key moments and images they remember from the birth of LIAF and we’ll explore if the industry is still open to innovation and experimentation.


Moderator: Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement at Escape Studios

Saint works with key companies in UK and international animation and VFX sectors, often leading on new technology training for industry such as Unreal Engine, Virtual Production and generative AI. He is the author of the Core Skills of VFX Handbook and has designed and run courses and conference panels across the UK and Europe. He has been LIAF’s industry panel coordinator and chair for a decade and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. At Escape Studios he has chaired panel discussions for the annual VFX Festival, and has taken part in many Access:VFX activities online and in person.


Gary Thomas - Director, Animate Projects

Gary set up Animate Projects in 2007, with Abigail Addison. They produce animated films by established artists, alongside other animation projects that are grounded in principles of partnership, innovation, social justice, and collaboration. In 2011, Gary and Abigail set up Animation Alliance UK (AAUK), to champion the work of the independent animation sector in the UK. AAUK worked with Arts Council England to clarify its funding criteria for animation and, in partnership with Animation UK, successfully lobbied the British Film Institute, leading to the establishment of the BFI Short Form Animation Fund. In 2003, Gary was working as Head of Moving Image at Arts Council England, and overseeing its AnimateTV partnership with Channel 4, run by Finetake/Dick Arnall. The 2002/2003 commissions included films by Ruth Lingford, Vera Neubauer, Chris Shepherd, Quay Brothers and Tim Macmillan. Until recently, alongside Animate, Gary worked in the Film team at the British Council.


Osbert Parker - Filmmaker

Three times BAFTA nominated and award winning filmmaker Osbert Parker is perhaps best known for creating stories that use experimental and innovative film techniques. They often combine photo cut-out animation with objects and live action to create one-of-a-kind imaginary landscapes in mixed media short films, commercials, TV entertainment and online content. Emmy nominated in 2022 for Outstanding Main Title Design on Lisey's Story, his independent short animated films continue to receive acclaim on the international film festival circuit. Film Noir was nominated for best short animated film by BAFTA and won a Palme d'Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. Yours Truly was the best short animated film winner at the British Animation Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA in 2008 and selected for Sundance. With 35 years experience of working in the creative industries, Osbert balances his freelance work with delivering masterclasses, seminars and running international animation workshops. Committed to helping new generations of filmmakers, Osbert is a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) and a regular visiting animation lecturer at The National Film & Television School.


Helen Brunsdon - Director of the British Animation Awards (BAA)

Helen has worked extensively across the animation industry as a consultant, producer and executive working with some of the most creative names in animation including Aardman, Arthurcox, Brothers McLeod, CBBC, Creative Skillset and Disney. Whilst at Aardman Helen played an important part in developing new projects for broadcast and headed up the short film content, executive producing the BAFTA and multi award winning The Pearce Sisters. In addition to her production work, Helen also works as animation advisor, programmer, events producer and jury member. In Dec 2016 Helen became the Director of Animation UK and left in March 2018 to become the Director of the British Animation Awards (BAA).