Movie Maker Mission: how to travel 500 years in five minutes

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By Sarah Cox, from Aardman Animations

Movie Maker Mission is a truly exciting way of bringing history to a wide audience through animation. Throughout this year the Learning & Engagement team at Historic Royal Palaces are recruiting thousands of children and young people to create drawings, music and sound to be transformed into a rip-roaring animated yarn, telling 500 years of history in less than five minutes.

My role as director of the film means I have to research and edit the vast array of stories across the 500 years and choose some of the key moments that have helped to define Hampton Court Palace over five centuries. I am lucky enough to have all sorts of opportunities to discover more about the history and observe the palace and its visitors today. From gong scourers (privy cleaners) to noblemen within the palace walls, there are some fascinating stories to be heard (and told!).

The process for our animation will take several months during this year as every detail on screen is created by the public. Each drawing chosen, from vases to Victorians, hats to Henry VIII himself, will then be painstakingly cut and pasted onto our master storyboard alongside the voices being recorded for the characters and their stories. Once these are established we move through the script to show different periods of time as the stories unfold, adding in background images to support the characters and show a variety of palace locations across time.

Animate: drawings we collected will be pulled apart so they come alive in the movie

Animate: drawings we collected will be pulled apart so they come alive in the movie

For me, the best part of the film’s creative process is seeing the different reactions from the people who come to our workshops as they hear about life in the palace, and watching their ideas and responses come to life in the drawings and sounds they make for the movie. The greatest challenge is to choose and keep key moments in the film while moving through time at great speed, and while making sense of the various changes to palace life. We also like to add some little details you might not spot on first viewing…

The film will launch on October 24 and will be shown at Hampton Court Palace until Sunday 1 November 2015.

For more information on how your family or school can get involved in the project, visit the Movie Maker Mission website.

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