Bye! Bye! Biographic Studios – Page 4

Another time they made a series of adverts for a certain fountain-pen ink manufacturer, which were so successful mothers-to-be were drinking it believing their off-spring would be born able to write!!! Mind you, no one was prepared to vouch for the authenticity of that story.

Keith Learner’s apparatus for drawing onto 35mm film.

After Bob Godfrey left the team to set up on his own early in 1965, Keith, Vera and Nancy always worked together, only bringing in freelancers as and when they were needed – sometimes as many as twenty extra people.

Although well established as a cartoon film studio, Biographic have often been asked to make live-action commercials. In the early days of ATV it was customary to include live action shots after the animated prelude. Before Biographic possessed their own live-action facilities, this part of the brief was handled by another studio; that is, until matters got out of hand. Each studio wanted to direct the other’s section of the work, while the agency people wanted to direct everyone concerned with the production. In desperation, Biographic decided it would install the appropriate equipment, and once it became known they could shoot live-action, orders for this type of film work came pouring in. Indeed, at one time, of every ten commissions received only two called for animated drawings.

The Picnic was made on the above rig.

The ability to do the whole thing in their studio proved a valuable asset. They possessed their own rotoscoping machine and it was a simple matter to synch animation with lice action when the brief called for the Esso Blue man to sing with a choir.

Over the years they became doubtful about the good intentions of Film Festivals. While it was always a pleasure and an honour to receive recognition from ones peers, no matter how many cups, vases, medallions and sundry trophies one collected they had little or no effect on business. And Biographic won a fair share of the awards, with such films as:
“Be Careful Boys”, “The Trendsetter”, “Calling All Women”, “I’m Glad You Asked That Question”, and for many cinema and television commercials.

The decision to close the studio was decided by mutual agreement. Vera Linnecar wanted no more than to retire in order to concentrate on her second love free from commercial pressures. In her leisure moments she is a accomplished sculptress, never happier than when she is filling her kiln with original fanciful creations. On the other hand, Nancy Hanna fully intended to retire, taking on the occasional freelance job to “keep her hand in”. Alas, for good intentions! On the afternoon of their last day together, it became apparent she would be kept as busy as ever as a freelancer. As for Keith Learner, he will have another story to tell about his continuing film activities in company with Paul Maddox.

You can be sure we have not heard the last of this energetic trio – yes, even Vera! – and for that, we can be very grateful. It tempers the sadness of the closing of Biographic Studios.

A French insect spray commercial with storyboard panels and artwork as it appeared in the film.

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Printed in Animator Issue 13 (Summer 1985)