Former Aardman Animations prodigy Felix Massie has been collecting a variety of accolades across the national and international scene, here we discuss how his 2013 Animated Grand Prix winning film 'In The Air Is Christian Gray' gives praise to the understated anti-hero, and why it's okay to try and fail!

We are currently in the process of taking submissions for our 2015 Encounters, what makes a good short film in your eyes?

I enjoy the dialogue driven films that can sometimes be a bit dark or surreal but have a sense of humour to them. With an interesting combination of visuals and subject matter so they contradict or compliment each other! One of my all time favourite shorts is Skhitzein by Jeremy Clapin, lovely film.

You’ve won a nice collection of accolades over recent years, how did it feel to take the Encounters Grand Prix with ‘In The Air Is Christopher Gray’?

That is still my biggest award so I was really excited. Was great having the excitement in the coming months with the possibility of a BAFTA and Oscar eligibility too – it wasn’t to be, but fun to dream!

What was the process behind the whole project, stylistically and behind the animation?

I did all the visual side by myself so I knew I wanted to do something simple or I’d never finish it! And I like playing around with naive looking concepts but with a psychological depth behind them. So the script and visuals fit well together I thought. It’s almost a stage production really. I’d started working at Nexus in London by the end of production and that really made me want to push the visuals further than I would have otherwise.

Obviously it made a lasting impression on us and many more; is it an ode to the fragile adolescent affection that often plays out for many teenagers?

Yeah I think so. Everyone loves an anti-hero too. I always think it’s satisfying to see “unfairness” on screen. It can be comforting and it makes you feel less silly for trying and failing!

It must have been very exciting to be eligible for the Oscars, was this something that pulled you towards submitting for Encounters?

Definitely. Especially that it’s so close to the eligibility deadline. But not only that, it’s also one of the biggest festivals I’ve been to in the UK. It’s great as a filmmaker to get to visit Bristol and see so many films from all over the world. The festival itself is contained all within quite a small area in the city centre so it’s a brilliant place to meet people from all over too. It definitely attracts a lot of filmmakers.

Did your time with our close friends and sponsors Aardman Animations have a lasting effect on your direction?

Aardman were one of my favourite studios growing up and I love the silliness and sweetness that they bring to their animation. Their films have a great heart to them and that’s definitely something I think about when I make things.

What sort of things are you up to now with Nexus productions? Anything you are willing to divulge for our viewers?

I’ve been making some children’s books (which surprised me!). I have one coming out in August called, Terry Perkins And His Upside Down Frown which I’m really excited about. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Perkins-Upside-Down-Frown/dp/1847806201

I’m also working on some commercials and new short films so hopefully I’ll be back at Encounters soon!

Thanks again for your time!

No problem