Film director set for school

19th April 2013 at 01:00
Animator behind the Oscar-winning Brave drops in on a Glasgow primary

It took seven years to make the Oscar-winning animated film Brave, the director of the film, Mark Andrews, told an audience of rapt P5 children at a Glasgow primary this week.

The revelation was met by sharp intakes of breath from the Pirie Park Primary students and a stream of questions, including "Did you get days off?" and "When will your next film be ready?" Around 2017, he told the class, who began to reflect on how ancient they would be by the time they got to see it.

"We'll probably be at university by then," said one boy mournfully.

But his off-the-cuff remark was the source of delight to the adults in the room. Mark Andrews' visit was the culmination of a project which had been running for several weeks at the Govan primary as part of the Glasgow School of Art's widening participation programme.

Second-year art students worked with two classes of P5 children to create a range of animated characters representing healthy and unhealthy food. There was Big Banana Bruce and his arch enemy Mario the Miserable Milkshake, who sprays sugar acid from his straw. Or Adam the Active Apple and his nemesis Bob the Big Bad Burger who shoots oil to make Adam slip up.

The project introduced the children to animation and got them thinking about healthy choices, but its main purpose was to increase aspirations and demystify higher education - particularly art school, explained Eileen Reid, head of widening participation at the college.

S2 children from Govan High were also involved. They were given the job of designing superheroes based on their own personalities and talents, with the help of second-year art student Chelsea Frew.

Ms Reid said: "If you ask pupils what they think goes on in the art school, they'll tell you painting and drawing and sculpture. After these visits, there will be more awareness of all that we have to offer - from architecture to product design."

This year, offers to potential students from the 40 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland (MD40) have doubled at the art college to 75 - 31 of which have been made to school- leavers. Last year, 12 school-leavers from MD40 joined the art college.

However, the college still has a long way to go, Ms Reid acknowledged. She said it remained to be seen how many offers would be converted into places.

Mark Andrews, who is in Scotland for two weeks to mentor GSA students, headed straight for the military when he left school - he planned to join the Marines - but decided to apply to art college "for a lark" and gained a place.

After college, he spent a year unable to find work until he landed a job working in TV animation at Warner Bros.

"Every success I've had comes from miles and miles of failure," he told the children, as he reeled off the names of movies he had made that they should avoid. Making an animated movie involved honing ideas until they were as good as they could be, he explained.

Animated films take an average of four years to make, he said, because from the setting to the characters everything had to be created. Brave took longer because a whole computer system had to be developed to capture the beauty of the Scottish countryside, he said.

Movie mentor

The Oscar-winning director Mark Andrews arrived in Scotland last week to mentor students at the Glasgow School of Art. His visit, a first for one of Disney Pixar's senior creatives, followed an invitation from culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Photo credit: Fraser Band

Original headline: Oscar-winning film director gets all set for school

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today