Joy Batchelor

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Joy Batchelor
Photo of Joy Batchelor.jpg
Born12 May 1914
Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Died14 May 1991(1991-05-14) (aged 77)
London, England
Years active1937–1991
John Halas (m. 1940)

Joy Batchelor (12 May 1914[1][2] – 14 May 1991) was an English animator, director, screenwriter, and producer. She married John Halas in 1940[3] and subsequently co-established Halas and Batchelor cartoons, whose best known production is the animated feature film Animal Farm (1954), which made her the first woman director of an animated feature since Lotte Reiniger. Together they created over 2000 shorts/films,[4] and produced roughly 70 propaganda pieces during World War II for the British government.[3][5] She helped co-write, write, animate, produce, and direct many of their productions.

One of her projects as an art director was Cinerama Holiday (1955). Joy directed and wrote Ruddigore (1967), a television-film adaptation of W.S. Gilbert's opera of the same name, which became the first opera to be adapted into an animated film.[5] She later worked in television, directing series, including animated shows like The Jackson 5ive (1971). Batchelor died on 14 May 1991, just two days after her 77th birthday.

Early life[edit]

Joy Batchelor was born 12 May 1914, in Watford, Hertfordshire. She attended Watford Grammar School for Girls and later attended Watford School of Art, Science and Commerce,[6] to which she had won a scholarship. She was offered placement afterwards at the Slade School of Art, but did not continue schooling to help support her family financially. She worked as a commercial artist and assembly line worker.[5]


Batchelor began working in animation first as an in-betweener for Dennis Connolly's projects. As part of her work as a commercial artist, she also worked as a silk-screen printer and printed posters[5] and assisted in design work for fashion magazines.[7] She met John Halas through an advertisement he wrote, seeking an assistant animator for numerous works for British Colour Cartoons Limited.[3][5] Batchelor accompanied him when the company sent Halas to Hungary in 1937 for work.[7] Their first film together would be The Music Man (1937).[5]

The company had financial issues and sent Batchelor and Halas back to the UK after half of year of working. Batchelor and Halas attempted to start a commercial art studio in Budapest, which was unsuccessful. They moved back to London where Batchelor resumed work as a freelance illustrator for books and magazines. Batchelor and Halas married 27 April 1940. Later that year, they established Halas and Batchelor cartoons.[7]

Halas and Batchelor[edit]

1948 Charley film, Your Very Good Health.

In the starting year of Halas and Batchelor, Joy Batchelor and John Halas continued to do commercial work to sustain finances. In 1940, Halas and Batchelor was approached by J. Walter Thompson to produce advertising shorts.[5][7] Their first commissions consisted of commercials for Kellogg's cereal and Lux Soap, producing Train Trouble and Carnival in a Clothes Cupboard for each respectively.[7]

Later in 1940, Halas and Batchelor was recruited by the Ministry of Information to help create propaganda and educational films for the war effort. Batchelor helped to co-write, co-direct, and animate most of the films produced during this time. This included films such as Dustbin Parade (1941) and Filling the Gap (1941). The company was busy during this time, producing roughly 70 films between 1940 and 1944.[5] Batchelor helped inform these films with her knowledge of British lifestyle, as John Halas was a Hungarian immigrant.[7]

After World War II, Halas and Batchelor continued to produce shorts for the government. Batchelor designed Charley, the titular character of the Charley series the company created for the Central Office of Information. The series purpose was to educate and persuade the audience towards the newly instated Labour Government's socialist-slanted policies.[7] Her style is described as favouring the use of simplistic images and partially authoritative narration,[5] which was note-worthy in the Charley series.[8] For the Ministry of Health, her first film to be written just by her was Modern Guide to Health (1946). Their films were also part of the Economic Cooperation Administration's efforts to bolster favourable response to the Marshall Plan. Lothar Wolff, in charge of commissioning these films for the ECA, commissioned Halas and Batchelor to animate The Shoemaker and the Hatter (1949) to this end. Wolff later introduced their films to Louis de Rochemont, who worked with them to create Animal Farm.[7]

Animal Farm[edit]

Joy Batchelor and John Halas shared in directing Animal Farm (1954). Batchelor worked on the preliminary treatments for the film, which were used to get the rights to create it.[7] She had a leading role in writing the script and designing the characters.

To simplify and shorten the complex story of Animal Farm, she devised a breakdown chart and a tension chart. The breakdown chart was used to connect all the characters in Animal Farm to each other, as well as gauge their contribution to major plot points. The tension chart she created was described as a long sheet of paper outline the rise and fall of emotional tension in relation to the plot points as the story unfolded. It consisted of a short description of the scene along the top, followed by a visual depiction of how tension would build.[7] It also included cues for the changes in intensity for the music.[4] These charts helped in discerning which characters could be dropped from the film (such as Clover and Mollie) and which scenes could be shortened to still understand the story and conflict of Animal Farm. The film still resulted in being over the initial agreed upon time length,[7] as well as taking three years to create. Animal Farm was Britain's first animated feature film.[3]

After Animal Farm[edit]

In 1955, commercial television became much more popular, and so the bulk of Halas and Batchelor's shorts were televised shorts. This includes DoDo - The Kid From Outer Space (1964) and Foo Foo (ran from 1959 to 1960). Batchelor wrote the bulk of these scripts.[7]

The studio's short, Automania 2000 (1963) won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award of 1964,[9] and was nominated for an Oscar. Batchelor wrote the script for it.[10]

Halas and Batchelor produced only one more feature film after Animal Farm, an animated adaptation of the opera Ruddigore. The 1967 film became the first animated adaptation of an opera.[5] Batchelor wrote and directed Ruddigore solo. In creating the adaptation, Batchelor had to follow a strict condition that no songs or dialogue could be altered, which made shortening the film to feature-length challenging. As the story was told through song in the original operatta, Batchelor employed voice-over narration to help convey and clarify the story.[4] It received mixed reviews upon its release.[7]

Halas and Batchelor also animated the famous music video Love Is All by Roger Glover (1975). [11]

Retirement and death[edit]

Batchelor had to retire in the mid 1970s due to arthritis, and could no longer work.[7] She taught well past retirement at the London Film School.[2] She died 14 May 1991 in London from an unnamed illness.[9]

She is survived by her daughter Vivien Halas, who currently manages the Halas & Batchelor collection.[12]

Partial filmography[edit]

Before Halas and Batchelor[edit]

Title Year Role
Robin Hood 1935 Unknown
Music Man 1938 Animator[5]

With Halas and Batchelor[edit]

Title Year Type Role
Carnival in a Clothes Cupboard 1940 Advertisement Director,[13] possibly other roles
Train Trouble 1940 Advertisement Director,[13] possibly other roles
Dustbin Parade 1941 Short Director, animator[14]
Filling the Gap 1941 Short
Modern Guide to Health 1946 Short Screenwriter
Magic Canvas 1948 Short Producer[15]
Charley series 1948–49 Series Director, producer, character designer, screenwriter[16]
Fly About the House 1949 Short Director, producer, design[17]
The Shoemaker and the Hatter 1949 Short Screenwriter[18]
The Figurehead 1953 Short Director, producer, screenwriter, design[15]
Animal Farm 1954 Feature film Director, producer, character designer, screenwriter
Cinerama Holiday 1955 Feature film Art director[19]
Foo Foo 1959–60 Series Director, producer, screenwriter[15]
The Monster of Highgate Ponds 1960 Short Screenwriter[20][21]
Automania 2000 1963 Short Screenwriter, producer, storyboard artist
Do Do - The Kid from Outer Space 1964 Series Director, producer, screenwriter[15]
Ruddigore 1967 Feature film Director, screenwriter
Colombo Plan 1967 Short Director[13]
The Five 1970 Short Director, producer
Contact 1973 Short Director[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BFI Website".
  2. ^ a b "Halas & Batchelor Collection website".
  3. ^ a b c d Shail, Robert (2007). British Film Directors: A Critical Guide. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0809328338.
  4. ^ a b c Wells, Paul (2010). "2. Halas & Batchelor's Sound Decisions: Musical Approaches in the British Context". In Coyle, Rebecca. Drawn to Sound. London: Equinox Publishing. pp. 40–58. ISBN 978-1845533526.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wells, Paul (2015). Nelmes, Jill; Selbo, Jule, eds. Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 649–652. ISBN 978-1-137-31237-2.
  6. ^ Moorhead, Rosy (29 October 2014). "Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Britain's first feature-length animated film, Animal Farm – illustrated by Joy Batchelor from Watford". Watford Observer. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Leab, Daniel J (2007). Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 49–54, 63, 128–129. ISBN 978-0271029795.
  8. ^ Wells, Paul (2007). Basics Animation 01: Scriptwriting. AVA Publishing. pp. 78, 80. ISBN 978-2940373161.
  9. ^ a b "OBITUARIES". Variety. Los Angeles: Penske Business Media. 27 May 1991. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Automania 2000 (1963)". BFI. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Halas & Batchelor Collection website".
  13. ^ a b c d Kuhn, Annette; Radstone, Susannah, eds. (1990). The Women's Companion to International Film. Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0520088795.
  14. ^ Glifford, Denis (1987). British Animated Films, 1895–1985: A Filmography. Mcfarland & Co Inc., Publishers. p. 120. ISBN 978-0899502410.
  15. ^ a b c d "Titles". The Halas & Batchelor Collection. Halas and Batchelor Collection. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Public Information Films". The National Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Fly about the House (1949)". BFI Film Forever. BFI. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  18. ^ Halligan, Fionnuala (2013). Movie Storyboards: The Art of Visualizing Screenplays. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC. p. 152.
  19. ^ "Cinerama Holiday". Monthly Film Bulletin. London: British Film Institute. 1 January 1956. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  20. ^ "The Monster of Highgate Ponds". Monthly Film Bulletin. London: British Film Institute. 1 January 1961. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  21. ^ Warren, Bill (2009). Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, the 21st Century Edition. USA: Mcfarland & Co Inc., Publishers. p. 926. ISBN 978-0786442300.

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