We are thrilled to share our new animation for Refugee Week, created in collaboration with the award-winning animation studio Fettle. Here the creative team tell us more about the inspiration and creative process behind the film:
Fettle is a multi-award winning animation studio nestled in the Yorkshire Pennines near Huddersfield (between Leeds and Manchester) The You, me and those who came before project draws on Fettle’s long-held passion for bringing authentic hidden voices and stories to the screen in animation.
We started by working with our vibrant local refugee groups DASH Huddersfield and Kirklees Council Carry My Story project, who introduced us to refugees living locally who we visited to learn about their experiences. We also held open sessions in a town centre venue, where refugees told us their stories.
Though very different, everyone spoke of the challenges they had faced, how they had adjusted to their new lives and expressed their gratitude that they have found safety living in the UK.
We were moved by their stories and inspired by their determination to create a new life for themselves and their families and their desire to contribute positively to their new communities.
Poet Julian Jordon was onhand to listen, ask questions and draw together ideas. Julian went on to condense lots of these ideas into a short poem. He used the “British cup of tea” as a metaphor for people learning about (sometimes peculiar!) British manners and traditions and also as an image of British warmth and hospitality.
Talking about the process, Julian said “The tea is really my view of what makes us British, thus something we share regardless of where we stand on, say, the Brexit debate . In times of crisis (e.g. death in the family), a cup of tea is usually our first resort; and the way we greet people, strangers or friends: put the kettle on.”
We then approached actor Lladel Bryant, who provided the perfect voice to record the poem.
Fettle’s animation director, Zane Whittingham, then set to work on finding suitable imagery for animation: “I wanted to contrast the delicacy of the poem with some real-world experiences of the refugees we have spoken to. We wanted to evoke some of the harshness of the government’s “hostile environment” for refugees, but also to provide a celebration for Refugee Week of the resilience of refugees and the richness of their contribution to Britain.”
Musician Haymanot Tesfa, who will be performing at the V&A as part of Refugee Week, kindly gave us permission to use her beautiful version of Ethiopian traditional song “Ambassel” to add the perfect flourish.
Fettle Producer Kath Shackleton said: “We’re delighted with how the animation has come together and hope that it will be a powerful awareness-raising tool for Refugee Week.”