Mikey Please

Mikey Please on the BAFTA red carpet with his brother
Mikey Please on the BAFTA red carpet with his brother

Animator - Wimbledon College of Art, BA (Hons) Technical Arts and Special Effects, 2007

Animator Mikey Please talks to the Alumni Association about his success after picking up a BAFTA in 2011 for his short animation, "The Eagleman Stag".

Many congratulations on your BAFTA, we're so delighted your brilliant work has been recognised. How does it feel to be 'BAFTA award-winning Mikey Please'?

Why thank you! Initially it was all very glam. And for a good week I was followed around by a little cloud of smug. But then the smug cleared and I realised that soaking up well wishes from my relatives didn't actually equate to earning a living and that I had to start working again before I was evicted. That said, every now and then my eyes still drift off into staring at the middle distance, then I hit myself and get back to work.

Do you make people call you Michael Please now? Or Mr. Please? Or Sir Please?

Actually I don't allow people to address me directly anymore, or look me in the eye. And I've turned my name into a symbol like Prince.

In under 50 words could you sum up your practice?

A methodically ridiculous manipulation of inanimate objects in the hope to create the illusion of movement, that in turn people will discern some sense of meaning from. Like being a god of toys.

Can you explain how one gets their work seen by people making BAFTA decisions? I mean your short wasn't exactly screening at the Odeon was it?

Well, it's been gathering momentum for a while, little by little, and I'm sure it all helps. Online promoting and doing the rounds at festivals, screening at Sundance, Clermont Ferrand and plenty of others. The straightforward answer as to how it gets seen by the BAFTA folk is that the RCA submit all the films to them directly. But then the BAFTA voters are made up of hundreds of members who watch the films, so the trick is getting the film seen as widely as possible.

In all honesty what was the competition like? Did you have it in the bag?

Well, Dave Prosser and Mattais Hoegg happen to be two of my best mates (we were in the same class/year at RCA), and they're both incredible films. So I truly honestly didn't know. I've made the mistake of pre-guessing things like this before only to get it completely wrong, so I tried not to think about it. I didn't write an acceptance speech or anything like that, I thought it best to go in expecting to lose. Wish i did write an acceptance speech though. Mine was rubbish.

So, what could possibly be next? How do you follow up a BAFTA win?

At the moment and for the next few weeks I'm directing/animating a music video for TV on the Radio's new album. Then it's onto the next narrative project, which I don't want to say too much about in case it doesn't happen. But the plans are big. I'm excited.

Do you credit your time at Wimbledon with some part of your success?

For sure. It was the time I decided to let everything else go and dedicate my time to animation. Making that decision took a while but Wimbledon certainly gave me the environment to take that step.
I think a lot of courses can be pretty prescriptive, but Tec Arts was great in that they let me just go off on one, and supported me all the way.

Any real highlights from your time at Wimbledon?

I think collaborating with Ben Gerlis, who production designed the two main films (including the one UAL kindly purchased for the Collection!) I made there, was a highlight. That was a great step in realising that one man is not an island, or whatever that phrase might be. Lesson well learned.

Any really amazing tutors that inspired you to become the stop motion mastermind before us now?

Well, there were a plethora of people who influenced and encouraged me along the way, but a particular big thanks to my Wimbledon tutors; Valerie Charlton, Alan Sly, Chris Dyer and David Gale.

What advice do you have to students studying at UAL now?

I think university is an amazingly unique opportunity to have carte blanche to do whatever you'd like (or at least it should be).  I can't think of another environment where you'll have so many resources at your fingertips and be surrounded by so many other like-minded, talented people. I think the reason our films worked so well was that we really utilised everything we could, getting other students involved, exploiting the workshops, technicians, equipment, everything we could to make something that would have a life outside of the university environment.

If you weren't doing being an award-winning animator, what was plan B?

There wasn't really a plan B. Poet, wandering bag man, Circus clown. All these are things I would like but will never be brave enough to attempt.

Anyone you forgot in your thank you speech that you'd like to thank now?

As I said, I didn't really plan a speech. The one I made I thought was going on too long so I did a kind of Napoleon Dynamite-esque dash off stage. Pretty much mid sentence. So yes, I'd definitely like to thank some of the model makers who helped on the film, particularly some Wimbo grads - Amer Chadha Patel, Dan Ojari, Steve Hutton and Sean Hogan as well as Kingston grad, Gemma Taylor.