As well as commercial films for television and the cinema and television, Robin Lyons has also produced many short films. Some of these have been made for broadcasters, some in order to nurture talented filmmakers and some to test emerging markets. Because most of the material is not suitable for children Siriol created a new brand, Blunt Pictures. All the films below were produced by Robin Lyons.
The first two short films were commissions by Channel 4 who were looking for 5 minute films to preceed their coverage of the West Indies cricket tour.
Dee’s Dish of the Day (2000) was directed by Kyle Legall who at the time was Calon’s runner. It was a recipe for peas and rice told by Kyle’s grandfather and animated in Kyle’s graffiti-influenced style.
Stonehouse Reunion x 4 (2000 – 2001) was directed by Tony Johnson who had already made the impressive animated feature, Fallen Angels, for the BBC. The first film, about a prison breakout was an award winning success and Channel 4 commissioned 3 more, the last of which features the voice of Welsh bad boy Howard Marks.
Mary Seacole: Days of Deliverance (2001) was another film by Kyle Legall, this time commissioned by S4C. The film tells the story of a Caribbean nurse who tended soldiers in the Crimean war. And the end of the film the animated image fades to reveal a painting of Mary Seacole sprayed onto a wall in Cardiff’s Butetown.
Canned Heat (2003) was one of two stop-motion short films commissioned by S4C in 2003. Directed by Dave Sethi it was about prejudice and intolerance and involved cans of soup set in a kitchen cupboard. Al Murray (the Pub Landlord) did the voice.
The Thwee Lancers (2003) was a film by Jason Comley who had fought in a tank regiment during the first Iraq war. It was a comic tale of soldiers looking for WMD. During the war Jason made beer money by painting graffiti on tanks.
In 2004, Robin produced four short films that were part of a joint initiative between S4C and the Welsh film commission, Sgrîn. One of these, Omni, was made by graphics studio, Rough Collie, but the other three involved animation in Siriol’s studio.
Susie (2004) was a film by Cathy Snelling who worked in Siriol’s stop motion studio. It was about masturbation. The film elicited strong responses and although S4C were very happy with it they were not able to broadcast it, even in the early hours of the morning. The film won an award at the Brief Encounters festival and did the rounds of Feminist and Lesbian film festivals.
Shadows and Reflections (2004), a film by Steve Whittle could not have been more different. A charming children’s story animated in 2D with no dialogue it had a beautiful piano track by Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson.
The Women Of Mumbles Head (2004) was a film by Lisa Jones about two young women who rescued survivors of the Mumbles Lifeboat Disaster of 1883. Every frame was painted in watercolour in this lovely film which won an award at The Festival Of The Sea.
The Thomas and Colin Show (2006) was a darkly comic short made in 2D by Austin Charlesworth who at the time was a stop motion animator in Siriol’s studio. It featured two crazed vegetables who took slapstick to extreme limits.
In 2006, Blunt Pictures began to fund its own short content, mostly working with in-house animators to come up with short comedy ideas that might be viewed on emerging platforms such as the mobile phone. It also received a couple of commissions for short form content.
Bryn Terfel – Animated Arias (2006) S4C was also exploring the possibilities of short content that might be viewed in a non-linear way and commissioned an animated version of a Mozart aria sung by Welsh baritone, Bryn Terfel. The aria was “Deh, Vieni alla Finestra” from Don Giovanni and featured a lion in a zoo enticing a young woman into his cage.
Keep Fit With Big Tattie (2007) was a series of short gags featuring a couch potato. Animators in the studio as well as other studio employees came up with ideas that were animated in down time in the stop motion studio. The idea was to invent keep fit ideas that could be done without moving from the armchair of a grim flat that had not been redesigned since the 70’s. The idea was successful enough to persuade S4C to commission some shorts based on the characters with a rugby theme. This was called Tym Rygbi (2007).
In the same year (2007) many other shorts were produced. Some slapstick Golf Stings, a few shorts about Mr Poker Face and some about Extreme Babies.
The Debt (2007) was a live action short film funded partly by the BBC. At the time Calon was helping Steve Sullivan, a live action film-maker whose sense of fantasy and the absurd appealed to the company’s ethos and sense of humour. The Debt was a about a man who ends up carrying a pyramid of people on his shoulders in order to fulfill an obligation.
Croeso (2008) was a short film commissioned by an anti-bullying charity. Blunt Pictures enlisted multi-award winning animator Tom Brown to direct the film.
After this it became increasingly difficult to finance short films. It was not clear how to make money from web based platforms and television seemed more and more reluctant to fund shorts. Added to this the fact that Calon has moved its stop-motion operation to Ireland means it no longer has the luxury of experimenting in studio down time.
This may change as new funding opportunities emerge. Robin still has ambitions to produce short films and in 2016 produced 390 which you’ll find in the television section because it exist as a special as well as a series of shorts.