Introducing Nano Films

Everyone needs an animated film, even if they don't know it yet. Ten years ago, no-one could have imagined that every plumber would need a website. I predict that, in ten years time, every business will want a short animated film that tells the story of what they do.

Maybe it will be an animated logo, a mini infomercial, something to play on a smart phone, or a short film on their website, something that makes their business unique and different, something that reaches audiences (especially younger ones) who don't want to read pages of dull text on a static site.

The only trouble is - the cost. Animation is time-consuming and expensive. But what if we could make animated films really cheaply, for a tiny budget? Then, surely, everyone could afford one, and businesses all over the world would queue up to commission small films.

Animation Apprentice was founded in September 2012, training students to become animators and reach a professional standard where they can find work in the industry. All the lectures are online - there is no physical classroom. At the same time I started teaching at Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe, helping to design and launch a new Animation and Visual Effects course, aiming to combine the best online techniques with traditional classroom methods.

So the next step was, in a way, obvious. Why not start to find work for all this emerging talent by bringing in small freelance jobs, starting with friends and aquaintances, and slowly building up a business that can take on many small projects. Tiny films don't require much management, and they don't need to be expensive. So our pitch is simple - we make tiny films on a tiny budget.

Our first film was made last year and has the snappy title "What is Wrong with the Global Development Organization"? It's playing at the Exeter animated film festival next month. It's all about the problem of what happens to an organisation with good intentions which get taken over by bad management - which is to say pretty much most organisations anywhere. Almost everyone can relate.

The second film we did was for Rocketseed, an email banner company that does some complex tech stuff that can be kind of hard to understand. The purpose of the film was to help the company explain what they do in a simple, clear way that their non-tech customers can easily comprehend.

Making short films is fun. Often clients don't really know what they want, so much of the job involves figuring out what is the story they want to tell, and then working out the best way to tell it. Part of the challenge involves keeping it very short. Almost everyone has a minute to spare to watch a short film; but few of us have five. And it's easy to write a long script - but writing a short one takes time.

Animation Apprentice is producing talented graduates with the right skills to have a successful career in industry. Making short films on small budgets is a great way to keep graduates and undergraduates busy, help kickstart their careers, and provide companies with a simple way to get their message across.

But most of all, it's fun. To see more, visit