FilmFair

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For the Indian entertainment magazine, see Filmfare.
FilmFair
Industry Television production and film studio
Fate Absorbed into DHX Media and Discovery Communications
Successors
FilmFair
  • AGC (1992–2003)
  • Discovery Communications (2003–present)
FilmFair London
Founded 1968
Defunct 1996
Headquarters Los Angeles; London
Key people

FilmFair was a production company and animation studio that produced children's television series, animated cartoons, educational films, and television advertisements. The company is perhaps best remembered for its stop-motion films using puppets, clay animation, and cutout animation.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

FilmFair was founded by American animator Gus Jekel in Los Angeles. After working with Walt Disney Productions and other Hollywood animation studios in the 1930s, Jekel incorporated FilmFair because he wanted the freedom to create live action work as well. The studio was in "Animation Alley", a stretch of Cahuenga Boulevard that runs through Studio City in northern LA.[1]

Jekel's company produced television advertisements—some animated, others live-action—and was extremely successful; even Disney was a client.[2][3]

In the late 1960s, Jekel asked an English colleague, Graham Clutterbuck, to start a European office for FilmFair. Clutterbuck had been producing and coordinating television ads for European advertising agencies, and had just lost his job as director general of Les Cinéastes Associés in Paris. Although he was not well-acquainted with animation, Clutterbuck accepted. Clutterbuck established FilmFair's European office in Paris. It was there that he met Serge Danot, who pitched his ideas for a children's series, but Clutterbuck turned him down. Soon after, Danot signed a contract with the BBC to produce the series: The Magic Roundabout. He invited Clutterbuck to watch them film. There Clutterbuck met the series' co-creator, Ivor Wood.[2] Later, the two men agreed that Wood would make animated films for FilmFair. The success of The Magic Roundabout paved the way for more stop-motion animation at the BBC. Wood came up with the idea for The Herbs, which premiered on BBC1 in 1968.[2]

FilmFair London[edit]

Paddington premiered in 1975.

By this time, Beatlemania had made England a cultural hotspot. Clutterbuck found it too difficult to attract English talent to France, so he moved the office to London.[2] There, a Barry Leith joined the company as director of animation. Wood and Leith collaborated on The Wombles, but Wood also had a few ideas for animating Michael Bond's stories about Paddington Bear. Bond was enthusiastic about Wood's artistic vision, and began scripting the first series.[4] BBC1 premiered Paddington in 1975 to great acclaim. FilmFair produced new episodes of the programme for three years, and it expanded into a considerable media franchise.

FilmFair continued to produce successful stop-motion programmes through the mid-1970s. The company's first classically animated series, Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, premiered in 1976. It was adapted from a series of children's books written and illustrated by Edward McLachlan.[5] The company's first series not directed by Wood was The Perishers (1978), a classically animated series directed by Dick Horn.

As FilmFair London continued to produce animated television series for the BBC and ITV, they eventually reached an international audience through broadcast syndication and home video distribution.

Acquisitions[edit]

In the early 1980s, Central Independent Television bought a controlling share of the European branch of FilmFair. Graham Clutterbuck died of cancer on 30 April 1988; FilmFair dedicated Bangers and Mash (1989) to his memory. In 1991, Central sold FilmFair to Storm Group (aka the Caspian Group), one of FilmFair's video distributors. Altschul Group Corporation (AGC) bought FilmFair's American branch in 1992, as part of campaign to acquire more than a dozen film companies; Discovery Communications bought AGC's film catalogue in 2003.[6]

In 1996, the Caspian Group sold FilmFair London's catalogue and production amenities to the Canadian company CINAR. CINAR'S purchase included all associated distribution, publication, licensing, and merchandising rights.[7] In 2000, CINAR executives were implicated in a financial scandal, and again in 2001. In 2004, the company rebranded to the Cookie Jar Group. In 2012, a Canadian media conglomerate called DHX Media bought Cookie Jar Group, thus acquiring the rights to the European FilmFair properties.[8]

FilmFair productions[edit]

Animated series[edit]

Title Original
broadcast
Network Animation Director(s)
The Legends of Treasure Island 1993–95 Central traditional Dino Athanassiou; Simon Ward-Horner
The Legend of White Fang 1992–94 The Family Channel traditional Steve Majaury; Alain Sion
Rod 'n' Emu 1991 Central traditional Ian Sachs; Dick Horn
The Dreamstone 1990–95 Central traditional Martin Gates
Bangers and Mash 1988 Central traditional Ian Sachs
The Shoe People 1987 TV-am traditional Clennell Rawson
The Blunders 1986 Central traditional Ian Sachs
The Perishers 1978–79 BBC1 traditional Dick Horn
Astro Farm 1992–96 Central stop motion David Johnson
The Gingerbread Man 1992 Central stop motion Martin Pullen
Huxley Pig 1989–90 Central stop motion Martin Pullen
Windfalls 1988 Central stop motion Jenny Kenna
Edward and Friends 1987 SeeSaw stop motion Martin Pullen; Jo Pullen; Jeff Newitt
The Adventures of Portland Bill 1983 Central stop motion John Grace
Moschops 1983 Central stop motion Martin Pullen
Paddington 1975–1984 BBC1 stop motion Ivor Wood; Barry Leith (dir. of animation)
Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings 1976 Thames Television traditional Ivor Wood
The Wombles 1973 and 1975 BBC1 stop motion Ivor Wood; Barry Leith (dir. of animation)
The Adventures of Parsley 1970 BBC1 stop motion Ivor Wood
Hattytown Tales 1969–73 Thames Television stop motion Ivor Wood
Stories of the Sylvanian Families 1988 ? stop motion Jo Pullen; Martin Pullen
The Herbs 1968 BBC1 stop motion Ivor Wood

Television specials[edit]

Title Premiere Network Animation Director
Paddington Goes to the Movies 1980 BBC1 stop motion Barry Leith[9]
Paddington Goes to School 1984 BBC1 stop motion Martin Pullen[10]
Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza 1986 BBC1 stop motion Glenn Whiting[11]
World Womble Day 1990 Central stop motion Martin Pullen[12]
The Wandering Wombles 1991 Central stop motion Martin Pullen[12]
Brown Bear's Wedding 1991 Central traditional Chris Randall (anim.)[13]
White Bear's Secret 1992 Central traditional Chris Randall (anim.)[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sito, Tom (2006). Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-8131-2407-0. OCLC 69331438. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Graham Clutterbuck: A great entrepreneur". Animator (23). 1988. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Potter, Ian (2008). The Rise and Rise of the Independents: A Television History. Isleworth: Guerilla Books. ISBN 9780955494321. OCLC 236120118. 
  4. ^ Warner, Jennifer. The Unofficial History of the Paddington Bear. BookCaps Study Guides. p. 40. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Biography: Edward McLachlan". British Cartoon Archive. University of Kent. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Alexander, Geoff (2010). Academic Films for the Classroom: A History. Jefferson: McFarland & Co. pp. 65–66. ISBN 9780786458707. OCLC 601049093. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "CINAR Completes Acquisition of FilmFair" (Press release). CINAR Films, Inc. 26 November 1996. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "DHX Media Closes Acquisition of Cookie Jar Entertainment" (Press release). Halifax: DHX Media. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Paddington Goes to the Movies". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Paddington Goes to School at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ "Paddington's Birthday Bonanza". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "The Wombles". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Brown Bear's Wedding at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ White Bear's Secret at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Graham Clutterbuck: An Animated Line in Merchandise". Director (Director Publications) 31: 28. 1978.