The Snowman and the Snowdog
|The Snowman and The Snowdog|
|Created by||Raymond Briggs|
|Based on||The Snowman|
|Written by||Joanna Harrison and Hilary Audus (story)|
Raymond Briggs (characters)
|Directed by||Hilary Audus|
|Theme music composer||Ilan Eshkeri and Andy Burrows|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||25 minutes (approx.)|
|Production company(s)||Lupus Films (Original)|
|Original network||Channel 4|
The Snowman and the Snowdog is a 2012 animated short film. It is the sequel to The Snowman, and was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original short film. The Snowman and The Snowdog is dedicated to John Coates (the film's producer, who died in September 2012) and features a new song called "Light the Night" by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows. The Snowman and The Snowdog won the Televisual Bulldog Award 2013 in the Best Children's category.
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The story begins similarly to The Snowman, at the house where James, the boy from The Snowman, used to live. Once in the open countryside, it is now in a housing estate.
One sunny Summer's day, a young boy named Billy and his mother arrive at the house, which they have just moved into. Billy helps his elderly dog from the removal van and they enter the property. As autumn arrives, it becomes apparent that Billy's dog has died and the family bury him in the back garden. With Christmas approaching, Billy writes to Father Christmas in the form of a hand-drawn picture; the one and only thing he asks for is another dog to replace his dead one. In his excitement, at the prospect of posting the letter, he stumbles over a loose floorboard in his bedroom and beneath it discovers some toys including a toy aeroplane and a small box tied with tinsel. In the box, he finds a photograph of James and the Snowman, as well as the original scarf, hat, coal lumps and an old dried-up tangerine (once the Snowman's nose).
As Billy realises his discovery, he peers out of the bedroom window and sees that it has begun to snow. He rushes out to build a snowman as in the photograph, but after barely completing his lower body he realises that not enough snow has fallen to complete the task, having already used all the snow in the garden. He hurriedly runs around the yard salvaging every bit of snow he can find off fences and a shed's roof and suchlike. Adding the final touches to his creation he decides that the original dried tangerine is long past its usefulness so, discarding it in the garden, he claims a fresh one from a fruit bowl in the kitchen. He finally completes the Snowman and in memory of his own dog uses the remaining snow to build a little snowdog, next to the Snowman, with mismatching socks on sticks for ears, gloves for spots and the discarded tangerine for a nose.
Night time approaches, and Billy goes to bed and drifts off to sleep. As midnight arrives, he is awoken by a dog barking in the back garden. Billy looks out of his bedroom window, and is astonished to notice the Snowdog waggling an ear at him. As Billy rushes downstairs, he finds, to his surprise, that his cold companions have miraculously come to life. The Snowdog, sniffing around in the snow, uncovers the ball that had once belonged to Billy's old dog and starts to play with it. The ball bounces into the house and the Snowman and the Snowdog enter it. The Snowman sees the photo of James and his former self on the fridge and smiles. Before too long Billy realises that the Snowdog has started to melt after sitting too close to the fireplace in the kitchen. The party thus ventures outside and explores the garden shed where the motorbike, which the Snowman rode in the first film, can still be seen along with some other mementos from James' family home.
Not long after, the three are off into the open air to visit the annual snowman party in the frozen north. However, while flying, the Snowman loses his nose, and as they land to search for it, they come across an old-style red single-engined light plane with open cockpit that they use for the rest of their journey. During the flying sequence, as in the original, a number of famous English landmarks can be seen, such as The Shard, London Eye, Big Ben, The Gherkin and the Crystal Palace transmitting station, as the three of them fly over London.
When the Snowman, the Snowdog and Billy reach the gathering, the party is in full swing with many familiar faces from the original. During the partying the three of them decide to enter a downhill race against numerous snowmen competitors and a rather determined and skilled skiing penguin. As they descend the course, however, many of the participating snowmen, including the protagonist snowman, end up embedded in snow drifts, but Billy and the Snowdog manage to stay hot on the penguin's tail, and the duo win the race by a nose, to be congratulated on their victory by Father Christmas himself, who gives Billy a Christmas present.
As the sun starts to rise, and the Snowman signals their departure, another snowman discovers the letter from Billy and whispers into Father Christmas's ear. From his sleigh, Father Christmas reveals a small present which he gives to Billy. While another snowman flies the aeroplane back to where it came from, Billy, the Snowman and the Snowdog return home.
Upon arriving home, Billy opens his present. It is a dog collar, which he politely places round the Snowdog's neck. The Snowdog turns into a real live dog that matches the one that Billy asked for. They both bid the Snowman a fond farewell and retire for the night.
The next morning, Billy awakes to find his bed empty, and worriedly searches for the dog. His search ends in the kitchen, where his dog is alive and well, trying to get outside. As the two go out into the back garden together, they discover that the Snowman has melted for the second time. Beside the remains in the melted snow, the dog, which Billy calls Socks, places his new ball, and the two kneel together in silent contemplation, mourning for their lost friend.
The 24-minute film, taking nearly two years to complete, cost £2 million to produce and, like the original movie, was created from over 200,000 hand drawn images. While the film was primarily hand drawn, CGI was used to add digital falling snow and lighting effects.
The composer Howard Blake, who composed the soundtrack to the original 1982 film was one of the few crew members not asked to return and after expressing an interest in returning was allegedly asked to "send a demo", which he refused citing the success of the original orchestral production score. The film instead features a largely pop-music orientated soundtrack featuring a song called "Light the Night" by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows and incidental music by Ilan Eshkeri.
Drawing by hand was a laborious process that employed a crew of 94, 77 of whom were artists and animators. Each second of the film was made up of 12 animated frames, each taking up to 30 hours to complete.
Reluctant to have the original The Snowman produced into a short film, Raymond Briggs was quoted to have said that "it took a lot of persuasion to allow the sequel to be made." Although Briggs was not himself responsible for the story of the new animation, the sequel could not have taken place without his permission as he owns the rights to the original characters and premise.
The Snowman and the Snowdog was heavily promoted in the weeks leading to its original broadcast, mostly by Channel 4, but also by other companies such as Nationwide. An official videogame based on the film's flying sequence was released for iOS and Android devices. A novelisation of the story is available as an e-book from both Apple's iBookstore service and Amazon's Kindle store. Also, the soundtrack for the film, featuring the theme song "Light the Night", is available digitally from iTunes and Amazon and a single version of "Light the Night" is available from both iTunes and the Google Play Music store. The film was released on home media on 3 November 2013, as a DVD, Blu-ray or a double pack with the original film. The soundtrack was released on CD format around the same time.
When the film was broadcast on Channel 4, on 24 December 2012, it drew nearly six million viewers: one of the channel's highest of the year and their biggest audience on Christmas Eve for more than a decade. Writing in The Guardian, Sam Wollaston praised the animation, but criticised the numerous similarities to the original plot.
A smartphone game was released by Channel 4 on 9 December 2012 for iOS and Android. The game was developed by Crash Lab. It reached number 1 in the iPhone and iPad game charts and was downloaded over 1 million times in the UK and Ireland.
In November 2016, a Christmas advert for British clothing company Barbour featured an older Billy and his dog reuniting with the Snowman and reminiscing about meeting Father Christmas. In November 2017, Barbour released another Christmas advert, following on from the previous one in 2016.
A series of public art trails have been created, featuring outsize versions of the Snowdog, along with smaller Snowpups. To date, they've appeared in Newcastle and Tyne and Wear, Brighton and Hove, Cardiff and Ashford. After each exhibition the Snowdogs are sold at auction, with the proceeds going to local hospices.
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