Made Abroad are an animation and creative studio based in London, which was founded in 2017 by two London College of Communication (LCC) graduates; Rosa Beiroa (MA Animation, 2017) and Alita Serra (MA Animation, 2016).
They were recently asked by writer, performance artist and filmmaker Tomfoolery to create an animation to mark the 1-year anniversary of his original poem 'The Great Realisation'. The piece, titled 'Hindsight’s 2020', is a bedtime story of hope and optimism. Set in a post-pandemic future, a big brother reads to his inquisitive younger sibling, where the story tracks through the before time, the virus and then the emergence of their new and better world.
For this project, Made Abroad was joined by Jenny Wright, a 2018 graduate from MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins (CSM), who came on as an assistant animator.
We recently spoke to Rosa, Alita and Jenny about how 'Hindsight’s 2020' came about.
Can you tell us what you studied at UAL and what your time at UAL was like?
Rosa Beiroa: I started the MA 6 years after finishing my BA in Fine Arts and I had never worked with animation before. The first few months into the course were very overwhelming! But in general, I had a very good time at UAL, I learned a lot about animation, made professional connections and doing the course opened the doors to a new industry for me.
Alita Serra: I’m a graphic designer but I’ve always been interested in animation. This course gave me the opportunity to learn amazing things about the discipline and opened a great space to explore new techniques and styles I never tried before. Having all the LCC workshops available to us was a great opportunity not all schools have. I learned incredible things from the course tutor Kim Noce and also made a group of friends and colleagues I’ll treasure for life.
Jenny Wright: The start of the course was the biggest learning curve I've experienced and I quickly felt absorbed with the subject despite finding it difficult. My mum died at the end of my first year and my relationship with her became the subject of my graduation film 'My Mother's Eyes'. This film then became the focus of how I spent the year after my time at CSM; film festivals, screenings and getting to know the industry. mainly accompanied by Sacha Beeley who was also on the course. The friends, like her, that I made were incredibly important for the learning process whilst at CSM but also as companions in navigating the friendly animation industry since leaving.
What have you been up to since you graduated?
RB: I have been animating since I graduated! My graduation film was very successful at festivals and received several awards. This led to a lot of opportunities for collaborations and commissions, and I had the chance to work on wonderful projects, meet fantastic people and have lots of fun with what I do. Since then, I have been working as a freelance director & animator, mostly in commissioned animation, but also in commercial projects. I am also a visiting lecturer for MA Animation at LCC and I try, when time allows, to work on personal projects on the side.
AS: After graduating I started working as a freelance animator in different agencies around London. This gave me a lot of experience and great contacts in the creative industry but also time to work on my own projects. At the same time, I started working as a Visiting Lecturer for MA Animation at LCC and I’ve been doing a lot of pottery in any spare time there is!
JW: Since graduating, three years ago, I have gradually built up my freelance animation work whilst doing other jobs. With a grant from BFI Network, I made my second short film about a hot water bottle, written by Jake Cunnigham, which is currently doing the festival circuit. As well as this short I've made a number of music videos, assisted animators such as Rosa and Alita on 'Hindsight’s 2020' and created animated loops for a language learning company. I've just started teaching for Central Saint Martins & London College of Communications which has been a brilliant yet daunting experience.
How/when did your animation studio, Made Abroad launch?
Originally launched as a creative studio with a strong emphasis on collaboration and a multitude of media, Made Abroad was founded in 2017, however it wasn't until late 2019 that we focused on animation as the main discipline. At that point, we knew this was the subject we wanted to spend most of our time on. We realised how much we enjoy working together in stories, so we decided to put all our energy into pivoting the purpose of the studio whilst working remotely. We love bringing characters and stories to life and communicating through animation, combining media and skills from different disciplines, and that shows in what we do!
You’ve recently created an animation, titled Hindsight’s 2020 to mark the 1-year anniversary of Tomfoolery’s original poem the Great Realisation. Can you tell us how you got involved?
Tomfoolery came across Rosa’s work on Instagram and fell in love with her style. After she animated a short film for one of his poems called Two Mice, he commissioned us to create Hindsight’s 2020 to commemorate his successful poem The Great Realisation. This is a bedtime story of how it started, and why hindsight's 2020, which got more than 7 million views on YouTube and read at the London New Year's Eve fireworks 2021.
Can you tell us more about your aesthetic/style of animation?
We work with different styles depending on the project requirements. From hand-drawn to digital pieces, we always explore different techniques to find the best way of visualising the storytelling. We try to break down and understand the brief in detail and create visual representations of the story that fits the project in the best way possible.
As we come from different artistic and graphic backgrounds, we both bring different ideas and styles to each piece. We combine frame by frame techniques together with motion graphics to create animations that have great fluidity and very detailed character movements.
What would be your advice for current students wanting to work in animation? Is there anything you wish you’d known when you graduated?
Animation is a huge field so there is space for all students to find the things they enjoy the most. We would recommend starting by working in a studio to explore different jobs and tasks and then decide which one fits the best of their abilities and skills!