Ellie Ragdale is a stop motion animator based in Sheffield. As well as creating her beautiful and intricate films, Ellie is also on a mission to bring the creation of animated film to the masses, running workshops for children and planning film screenings designed to bring the Sheffield creative community together. Find out all about her and her work below.
Ellie has been making animations since her final year studying Drama and Screen at the University of Manchester, when she managed to persuade her tutor to let her take a new second year module in animation. She had always been interested in animated film, having loved shows like Pingu and Camberwick as a child, but says it was the inspirational teaching of Barry Purves, the module leader and acclaimed stop motion animator, that made her realise just how passionate she was about it. Ellie threw herself into the course with enthusiasm, making her first film, Tim the Tiny Horse, a project focussing on adapting fantasy texts for screen and based on the stories of comedian Harry Hill.
Ellie says that the reason stop motion animation appealed to her so greatly is because it allows her to combine her two loves, namely making things and making films. Her films encompass a variety of styles and techniques (such as puppet animation, pixilation and papercraft) and she cites her influences as not only children’s stop motion television programmes, but also the “non-polished, handmade aesthetic” of director Michel Gondry.
After graduation, Ellie found work experience with a variety of different filmmakers, companies and festivals, including working with Broken Pixel animator Ashley Dean on two music videos (Gazpacho’s Black Lily and Fossil Collective’s Let It Go, which won best music video at the 2012 Aesthetica Film Festival). She continued to create her own films and in the summer of 2012, through what she describes as ‘almost coincidence’, began to make films with musician and friend Andrew Anderson. The pair’s skills complimented each other perfectly, with Andrew’s original compositions providing the ideal score for Ellie’s animations. Their first film, You Let Me Down Again, was a music video for Andrew’s band Proto Idiot, and has since been shown at the London Short Film Festival. Since then, they have worked on several films together, including The Animal Arkhive, for which they received funding though IdeasTap and permission to use sound effects from the British Libraries sound archive.
Ellie’s says that her plans for the future are to continue working with Andrew under their company ‘Peck Films’. Their aim is to secure commissions to make animated shorts for companies, as well as to continue to make their own films. Recently, Ellie has also begun to teach animation as part of the Kids Art Academy afterschool club sessions around Sheffield. Through Sheffield-based community arts charity Art in the Park and somewhereto_ (a nation-wide Olympic legacy scheme that focuses on connecting young people aged 16-25 with free space to do the things they love) Ellie secured funding through O2’s ‘Think Big’ grant, meaning that she was able the run a series of animation workshops in more disadvantaged areas of the city and, as a continuation of this, last month had her application bid for O2’s ‘Think Bigger’ fund accepted. As a result, this Autumn she plans to stage an immersive cinema screening event for children. Ellie says that she wants it to be a community event, showcasing the work of local children created in a series of workshops leading up to the event, and involving other young creative people like herself “to combine a variety of skills and talents and make this event something really special and unique”