An Interview with the Director

As well as being the Co-Founder of TAG, Theo is the Creative Director and directs lots of the amazing projects at TAG. 

Theo, give us an idea of what this film is?

“Having just moved into our new studio we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect and work on something that reaffirmed who we are. Something that felt like a quick intro and represented TAG. We knew it needed to be mostly fun and weird (like us!) but also explain who we are in under a minute.”

Theo Hicks

Creative Director – Theo Hicks

What was your favorite part of directing this film?

“As it was all about us and had so many styles, there were so many interesting sides to bringing this project to life. We have such a talented team here at TAG. It was an opportunity for the studio to flex its artistic skills and try new things in new ways as we had full control over it. I think the initial stages of the project were really exciting and challenging. What’s the best way to lock down a world of possibility into ideas that best represent what we were trying to say? We needed a whole new way to storyboard the film as it wasn’t really about a continuous story but more about building individual shots that serve the broader film.”

What was the biggest challenge of this film?

“From experience, I knew that the combination of different styles was going to be harder than it seemed on paper. Also having so many different artists work on it I knew it would be a challenge to keep the vision consistent and clear. It could easily look like a mess. Trying to get different styles to work together is challenging and can be a bit hit and miss. There needs to be enough of a thread from one to the next but also enough of a contrast that justifies the change in style. I felt that each piece needed to work on its own out of context of the film, so someone could look at the animation and go ‘hmm that bit of animation is cool’ even without the context of the film.

Apart from the artistic challenges another big challenge was just getting the film finished! I think it’s a common feeling for agencies of a certain size to struggle to complete internal projects, it’s easy for client work to take priority and for internal projects to get shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

In the end every project presents its own challenges but from friendly nudges from our marketing team and managing director, to the keenness and EXTREAM skill of the artists and producers I believe we made a fantastic film we are all really proud of.”

Why did you choose beautiful, wonderful and extraordinary as the words of focus?

“The scripting process was quite quick. I wrote it mostly in one sitting. I seem to remember another department was trying to cook it up but then other jobs got in the way as they do and it was handed over to me, yay! I think there were some early ideas there but it made sense to start fresh. I remember when we reviewed the script for the first time internally Jay, my business partner, pointed out that the ‘Beautiful, Wonderful, Extraordinary’ line I wrote could be a good tagline beyond the film… or should I say TAG line?! (…so sorry). To me at the time they felt like energetic words that each evoked ideas and emotions that felt true to what we try to create and celebrate at TAG everyday through our work and the environment we all contribute to.”

Did you work on any of the scenes?

“I was quite involved with the development of each shot. Being Creative Director means a lot of my job is to help realize the vision and then make sure the project sticks to that. I think my style is quite hands on with the ideas and reviews. That can look like anything from gathering references, sometimes doing style frames or storyboards but more often through ideation sessions or internal reviews, basically my job is to be just annoying enough throughout the project… I’m extremely popular 😅 So alongside our very talented artists I feel I helped create a lot of what you see on screen whether it be through coming up with the idea, helping style steer or just giving feedback on how to make their great art even greater. In terms of specific shots, I did make the ‘bear doing the robot scene’.”

What makes up TAG’s team?

“Like the saying goes, it takes a village! Some might think animation studios are just a few artists sitting around doodling the first thing that comes to their mind. Nope! In order to do what we do to the level that we do it as a studio it takes so much more. From the sales and marketing team and managing director getting our name out to the right people, then consulting with those people to making sure we’re the right fit and they are getting their needs met. To our amazing producers who organize the schedules to make sure the project and clients’ needs are met throughout the process. To of course the amazing designers and animators who utilize their years of artistic dedication and experience to not only make it look amazing but work the way it needs to. They work with the client, our creative producers and myself to bring the project to life and be the best it can be. We all work together to make it happen day after day! TAG is made up of a lot of hard work, creativity and love of what we do.”

As a founder of The Animation Guys, how has the studio evolved into what we see today?

“We’ve evolved in so many ways. But in many other ways we’re just the same, which after 6 or so years I think is a really great thing. I believe we’ve stayed true to our core values, things like striving to create amazing visuals, with a thoughtful edge to the message and story behind the visual, all while staying down to earth and creating a positive work environment for our team.”

Where do you see tag in 5 years?

“That’s a hard one! Things can really change a lot in the matter of one year, it’s very hard to say what things will look like in 5. I reckon we’ll all be sucked up into the metaverse swapping NFTs for NFZs, huffing gigga paint… No, not really, just being a bit silly. In all seriousness we’re just really happy with the team we have right now, everyone is an amazing super star in their own right, they really make coming to work everyday worth it. Whether it’d be in their day to day work or the chat in between. I can’t wait for the next 5 years but also we feel really lucky to be where we are with the people we are with.”

Anything else you want to add?

“We have such an amazing team so just thank everyone who helped bring this to life. It was a group effort and has turned out very lovely.”

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