Previous Special Guests

DUKE JOHNSON
is a graduate of New York University and the American Film Institute. ANOMALISA, which Duke directed alongside Charlie Kaufman, is his first feature film and was nominated for an Academy Award® in the Animated Feature Film category. Duke‘s previous credits include the Adult Swim shows MORAL OREL, MARY SHELLEY¹S FRANKENHOLE and BEFOREL OREL. He also directed the Emmy Award winning episode of NBC¹s Community: ABED’S UNCONTROLLABLE CHRISTMAS.

Duke was a popular guest at the 2017 Festival and we hope he will visit us  again in the future!

WILL BECHER 

Will Becher joined Aardman Animations as a trainee assistant animator on Wallace and Gromit’s big screen adventure The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Since then, he has worked on features, commercials and TV shows including The Pirates, Creature Comforts and Shaun the Sheep.

He has written and directed three award winning short films. Will was the lead animator in the Shaun the Sheep Movie and is currently the Animation Director for Nick Park’s film Early Man.

 

DAMIEN O’CONNOR

Damien currently works at Brown Bag Films as Director/Co-writer on Angela’s Christmas, an adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winning Frank McCourt children’s book ‘Angela and The Baby Jesus’. The film stars Oscar Nominated Ruth Negga (Loving), Lucy O’Connell (Song of the Sea) and Brian Gleeson (Snow White and the Huntsman).

Previously, Damien worked an Episodic Director on the Peabody Award winning; smash hit preschool show Doc McStuffins for Disney Junior.

He has written and directed four award winning Irish Film Board funded shorts Mutt, Ledog, IFTA nominated Dick Terrapin and IFTA nominated After You.

His most recent short film ANYA was a unique collaboration between Brown Bag Films and Irish NGO ‘To Russia With Love’ to help highlight the plight of Russian orphans. Since its release, ANYA has clocked up over a million views online and won several awards including the Best Overall Film at Limerick Film Festival and the Social Recognition Award at Dublin Animation Film Festival in 2014.

 

TOMM MOORE

Co- founder and Creative Director of Cartoon Saloon

Cartoon Saloon was founded in 1999 by Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and Paul Young, who met whilst studying animation in Ballyfermot Senior College Dublin.

Over the company’s history, Tomm has worked as Director, Art Director, Storyboarder, Animator and Illustrator on a range of projects from commercials to service work for feature films and TV series, as well as a number of short film projects.

Tomm has directed 2 universally successful feature films; The Secret Of Kells and the spiritual follow-up, Song of the Sea. Both films were nominated for Academy Awards ®.

Tomm also directed the “On Love” segment for The Prophet, a feature animation produced by Salma Hayek based on one of the best-selling books of all times.

Tomm is currently dividing his time between the development of his latest project “Wolf Walkers” and post-production on The Breadwinner. This feature film, based on the best selling novel by Deborah Ellis will be due for release in late 2017.

Tomm Moore received the Directors Guild Of Ireland and America Finder’s Series Award in 2008 and European Director of the year at the Cartoon Movie in 2009.

MERLIN CROSSINGHAM
Creative Director of Wallace & Gromit
Aardman Animations

Merlin joined Aardman in 1996 through an animation training course run in conjunction with the University of the West of England, having already completed a degree in Film and Photography at the Newport Film School.

As an animator at Aardman, Merlin initially worked on many TV commercials and Morph shorts, before taking the roles of Key Animator on the feature film ‘Chicken Run’, and Second Unit Director on ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of The Were Rabbit’. He also co-directed the Creature Comforts USA series for CBS, for which he gained an Emmy nomination.

Merlin was Supervising Animator for “Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death”, for which he also directed the BBC ONE branding idents to help promote the film’s debut on Christmas Day 2008, which reached a peak audience of 14.6 million viewers. He has since specialised in directing Wallace & Gromit at Aardman.

Merlin’s significant role across Wallace & Gromit activity eventually led to his promotion to Creative Director for Wallace & Gromit in 2009. In 2010, Merlin helped create the Royal Mail Christmas stamp collection featuring Wallace & Gromit and directed the animation for the BBC1 series, Wallace & Gromit’s world of invention. Merlin has also created a live orchestral show, Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels, which premiered as part of the 2012 Prom season at the Albert Hall. The show later travelled and played at the Sydney Opera House.

Merlin has also directed the relaunch and subsequent two series of Aardman’s oldest character Morph as well as present a series of ‘How to animate’ tutorials for children for the Sky Kids channel. He recently directed a title sequence for world renowned design festival OFFF.

Merlin is currently an animation director on Nick Park’s latest feature film Early Man.

Before attending University, Merlin specialized in acrobatics, uni-cycling and trapeze and trained with the Moscow State Circus during one of their stays in Bristol. These activities led Merlin into climbing, he became a climbing, caving and canoeing instructor and worked in the outdoor pursuits industry before choosing to focus on animation.

Merlin also filmed the world’s first stop-motion 3D IMAX test and has had the opportunity to work with the legendary Ray Harryhausen.