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What Is Animation?

Veteran British animator Bob Godfrey (1921-2013) answers the question "What Is Animation?" His answer is by turns witty, iconoclastic and insightful and all the while is acted out by a tiny man in a bowler hat.

This hand-drawn film is based upon an interview recorded by Martin Pickles at Bob’s Acme Studio in South East London.

  • Martin Pickles
    Ode To Joy, The Curtains Of Zagra, Like Me, Only Better, The Time Travellers Of 1908, The Commuter, G.M.
  • Martin Pickles
  • Martin Pickles
  • Bob Godfrey
    Key Cast
    Roobarb And Custart, Henry's Cat, Great, Know Your Europeans - UK,
  • Tom Lowe
    Sound Design
    Like Me, Only Better
  • Tanera Dawkins
    Sarah & Duck, Like Me, Only Better
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Factual
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 48 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 6, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Quicktime HD
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • London Short Film Festival
    January 15, 2015
    UK Festival Premiere
  • EUNIC – European Animation Week, Almaty, Kazakhstan
    Almaty, Kazakhstan
    November 14, 2014
    Kazakhstan Premiere
  • New British Film Festival
    November 29, 2014
    Russian Premiere
  • Ottawa International Animation Festival
    Ottawa, Canada
    September 29, 2014
    North American Premiere
  • Hiroshima International Animation Festival
    Hiroshima, Japan
    August 23, 2014
    Japanese Premiere
  • Spotlights at Whirlygig Cinema
    August 6, 2014
    UK Premiere
Director Biography - Martin Pickles

Originally from North Yorkshire, I spent several years at Oxford studying Classics, drawing cartoons, painting and designing theatre sets. I then moved to London to earn a living. But I ended up making independent films and working as a freelance animator.

Since 2009 I have curated and presented London Animation Club, a monthly social, networking and screening event for animators in the capital:

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Bob Godfrey is an inspirational figure in my life and work. As a result of meeting him at Animafest Zagreb in 2004, I did an MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art and since then have specialized almost exclusively in hand drawn, 2D animation.

In 2008 I recorded a two-hour audio interview with Bob from which the narration of "What Is Animation?" is taken. We had talked of developing the ideas in it into a short film, but sadly this never happened as Bob was in his mid-eighties at the time. Very sadly, Bob passed away in 2012.

In 2013, Bob's family put out a call for short animations based on colleagues and friends memories of the man for a special retrospective of his films at Bradford Animation Festival in 2013. As a tribute to Bob, I revisited the interview and chose a short section of it as the basis of what became "What Is Animation?"

Appropriately, the film's sound designer, Tom Lowe, is actually Bob's grandson.