Special Guests


In 2019, we had the privilege of welcoming Fabian Erlinghäuser, Head of Animation at Cartoon Saloon as our Special Guest Speaker. Fabian has his own place in the hearts of Dublin Animation Film Festival as he gave a children’s workshop at the first festival back in 2011!

Fabian was the Animation Director on “The Breadwinner”, the Saloon’s Oscar nominated feature collaboration with producer Angelina Jolie. After the screening of “The Breadwinner” at the Pavilion Theatre, Fabian participated in a Q & A. session on the making of the film and was a great hit with the audience and the festival programmers.

Fabian has 18 years’ industry experience at the Academy-Award-nominated studio Cartoon Saloon, where he works as Head of Animation on projects ranging from feature films and short films to TV shows.

His credits include Animation Director and 1st Assistant Director of the European Film of The Year 2015, “Song of the Sea”, which was nominated for multiple Annie Awards and an Academy Award. Fabian was also the animation supervisor of Cartoon Saloon’s breakout feature “The Secret of Kells”, which cemented Cartoon Saloon’s reputation for creating artistically inventive movies.

He currently co-directs “Dorg Van Dango”, a new TV-show he created with Breadwinner director Nora Twomey. It will be released in late 2019. Before joining Cartoon Saloon in 2000, Fabian graduated with a ‘Distinction’ in Classical Animation from BCFE in Dublin. Fabian has also taught character animation at colleges such as IADT in Dún Laoghaire; The Animation Workshop in Denmark and the University Of Applied Sciences in Cologne, Germany.


Michael Dudok De Wit was our Special Guest at DAFF 2017 and gave a superb masterclass and Q & A after the screening of ‘The Red Turtle’ – he lit up the stage with his presence! Michael Dudok de Wit was born in 1953 and educated in Holland. After school, he studied etching in Geneva, and animation at Farnham, England, where he made his first film “The Interview”. After animating for a year in Barcelona he settled in London in 1980. Working free-lance with different studios, in particular with the production company Richard Purdum Productions, he directed and animated many award-winning commercials for television and cinema.

In 1992 he created his short “Tom Sweep”, followed by “The Monk and the Fish” which was made at the studio Folimage, France. This film was nominated for an Oscar and it has won numerous awards. His most well-known film “Father and Daughter” won the Grand Prix in Annecy, an Oscar and dozens of other major awards. In 2004 he completed his short film “The Aroma of Tea”. THE RED TURTLE, which he directed and co-wrote with Pascale Ferran for Studio Ghibli was nominated for an Academy Award in 2017. Michael also illustrates children’s books and he teaches animation at art colleges in England and abroad. Characteristic of his drawing style is his use of strong shadows and of simple but atmospheric landscapes.


Duke 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 SHELLEY’S FRANKENHOLE and BEFOREL OREL. He also directed the Emmy Award winning episode of NBC’s 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 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 was the Animation Director for Nick Park’s film Early Man.


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.


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.


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.