The original is a genuine perennial classic; one that is guaranteed a valuable slot on the broadcast schedule without question. International equivalents include Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer for Americans and the Father Ted Christmas Special for all the Irish among us (not animated but impossible to beat).
So it’s quite a surprise to see that Channel 4 has commissioned a sequel to the original (not strictlya remake, as this Guardian post claims it is.) Here’s a few hopes I have for it that you should have too.
1. It Helps Put British Animation Back on the Map
While domestic animation in Britain is certain to get a boost from the tax credits that are coming soon, as a whole, the animation industry in the country has suffered over the last few decades. Many reasons can and have been given, but chief among them is that original British animation has suffered severely because networks are not commissioning near the volume that they used to. Today, many shows are imported (especially on the satellite clones of the American networks) and although domestic broadcasters continue to solicit content, more and more production has moved abroad in addition to more and more creators being abroad too.The Snowman is an instant British classic that has cast a long shadow over the British animation landscape for the last 30 years. While a sequel may not be ideal, here’s hoping it adds a bit o a halo to the industry as a whole.
2. It Reawakens Channel 4’s Love For Animation
Channel 4 brought was famous for commissioning a relatively substantial amount of animation in its early years. Such efforts gave rise to The Snowman and gave many previously unknown animators the opportunity to be seen. In an era when instant YouTube fame is starting to be taken for granted, the fact that you could create a film and get is broadcast on a national broadcaster (not matter the time of day or night) was and remains a big deal.Channel 4 (although faithful to animation as a whole; broadcasting South Park, The Simpsons and others) hasn’t had a serious interest in independent animation for quite some time. Partly to blame was the devastation wrought to original programming by Big Brother amongst others as well as a proliferation of offshoot digital channels. A web-only platform, 4mations was launched but whose last heartbeat was over two years ago is surely a sign that animation has taken a back seat in the 21st century.Here’s hoping that a sequel to a classic will give executives a reason to pause and examine how important animation was to the network’s early years and how beneficial it could be to its future.
3. It Prompts A Look At Traditional Styles if Not Technology
Traditional, hand-drawn animation is obsolescent in the real sense but not necessarily in the stylistic sense. CGI has been all-conquering over the last 10 to 15 years but also ushered in many new animation styles; from 3-D CGI to the flat shapes of Flash. Somewhat lost in all of this were the styles that traditional animation could deliver. Anything that looked inherently ‘drawn’ was off limits to computers for a long time until technology improved. Now, it is possible to do almost everything on a computer that you could do on a piece of paper. Although the new Snowman short was more old school than most, they did leverage technology to help speed up production. Hopefully, the inherently ‘drawn’ look of the Snowman will inspire animators to create works that look as if made with pencils even if the computer plays a role behind the scenes.