FilmFair Animation was a British production company and animation studio that produced children's television series, animated cartoons, educational films, and television advertisements. The company made numerous stop-motion films using puppets, clay animation, and cutout animation.
|Industry||Television production and film studio|
|Founded||1968 (54 years ago)|
|Defunct||1996 (26 years ago)|
|Fate||Library sold to Altschul Group Corporation (FilmFair)|
Sold to and absorbed by Cinar Films (FilmFair London)
|Headquarters||Los Angeles; London|
|Parent||Independent (1968-early 80's)|
Central Independent Television (early 1980's-1991)
Caspian Group (1991-1996)
|1968||FilmFair is founded|
|1971||DIC Entertainment is founded|
|1974||CPLG is founded|
|1976||CINAR and Colossal Pictures are founded|
|1988||Studio B Productions is founded|
|1994||WildBrain Entertainment is founded|
|1996||CINAR buys FilmFair's library|
|1997||Decode Entertainment is founded|
|1999||Colossal Pictures sells to WildBrain Entertainment|
|2004||Halifax Film Company is founded and CINAR rebrands as Cookie Jar Group|
|2006||Decode and Halifax Film merge forming DHX Media & DIC acquires CPLG|
|2007||DHX Media buys Studio B Productions|
|2008||Cookie Jar Group buys DIC Entertainment|
|2010||DHX Media buys WildBrain Entertainment|
|2012||DHX Media buys Cookie Jar Group|
|2013||DHX Media buys Ragdoll Worldwide|
|2014||DHX Media buys Epitome Pictures and Nerd Corps Entertainment|
|2016||WildBrain Entertainment closes and Studio B merges with Nerd Corps forming DHX Studios|
|2017||DHX Media buys Iconix Brands Entertainment|
|2019||DHX Media rebrands itself as WildBrain|
FilmFair was founded in 1959 by American animator Gus Jekel in Los Angeles. After working with Walt Disney Productions and other Hollywood animation studios in the 1930s, Jekel incorporated FilmFair because he wanted the freedom to create live-action work as well. The studio was in "Animation Alley", a stretch of Cahuenga Boulevard that runs through Studio City in northern LA.
In the late 1960s, Jekel asked an English colleague, Graham Clutterbuck, to start a European office for FilmFair. Clutterbuck had been producing and coordinating television ads for European advertising agencies, and had just lost his job as director general of Les Cinéastes Associés in Paris. Although he was not well-acquainted with animation, Clutterbuck accepted the job offer. Clutterbuck established FilmFair's European office in Paris. It was there that he met Serge Danot, who pitched his ideas for a children's series, but Clutterbuck turned him down. Soon after, Danot signed a contract with the BBC to produce the series The Magic Roundabout. He invited Clutterbuck to watch them film. While there, Clutterbuck met the series' co-creator, Ivor Wood. Later, the two men agreed that Wood would make animated films for FilmFair. The success of The Magic Roundabout paved the way for more stop-motion animation at the BBC. Soon, Wood came up with the idea for The Herbs, which premiered on BBC1 in 1968.
By this time, Beatlemania had made England a cultural hotspot. Clutterbuck found it too difficult to attract English talent to France, so he moved the office to London. There, Barry Leith joined the company as director of animation. Wood and Leith collaborated on The Wombles, but Wood also had a few ideas for animating Michael Bond's stories about Paddington Bear. Bond was enthusiastic about Wood's artistic vision, and began scripting the first series. BBC1 premiered Paddington in 1976 to great acclaim. FilmFair produced new episodes of the programme for three years, and it expanded into a considerable media franchise.
FilmFair continued to produce successful stop-motion programmes through the mid-1970s. The company's first classically animated series, Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, premiered in 1976. It was adapted from a series of children's books written and illustrated by Edward McLachlan. The company's first series not directed by Wood was The Perishers (1978), a classically animated series directed by Dick Horn.
In the early 1980s, Central Independent Television bought a controlling share of the European branch of FilmFair. Graham Clutterbuck died of cancer on 30 April 1988; FilmFair dedicated Bangers and Mash (1989) to his memory.
In 1991, Central sold FilmFair to Storm Group (aka the Caspian Group), one of FilmFair's video distributors. Altschul Group Corporation (AGC) bought FilmFair's American branch in 1992, as part of campaign to acquire more than a dozen film companies. Discovery Communications (now Discovery, Inc.) bought AGC's film catalogue in 2003. After the merger of Discovery, Inc. with WarnerMedia in April 2022, the assets are now owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.
In 1996, the Caspian Group sold FilmFair London's catalogue and production amenities to the Canada-based company Cinar Films, whose purchase included all associated distribution, publication, licensing, and merchandising rights. In 2000, Cinar executives were implicated in a financial scandal, and again in 2001. In 2004, the company rebranded to the Cookie Jar Group, which in turn was acquired by WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) in 2012, thus acquiring the rights to the European FilmFair properties and making DHX the largest independent producer of kids programming with 8,550 half hours up from 2,550.
Animated TV seriesEdit
|Paddington Goes to the Movies||1980||BBC1||stop motion||Barry Leith|
|Paddington Goes to School||1984||BBC1||stop motion||Martin Pullen|
|Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza||1986||BBC1||stop motion||Glenn Whiting|
|Totally Minnie||1988||NBC||traditional||Scot Garen|
|World Womble Day||1990||Central||stop motion||Martin Pullen|
|The Wandering Wombles||1991||Central||stop motion||Martin Pullen|
|Brown Bear's Wedding||1991||Central||traditional||Chris Randall (anim.)|
|White Bear's Secret||1992||Central||traditional||Chris Randall (anim.)|
|The Further Adventures of Noddy||1983||stop motion|
- Sito, Tom (2006). "Lost Generations, 1952–1988". Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-8131-2407-0. OCLC 69331438. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Graham Clutterbuck: A great entrepreneur". Animator (23). 1988. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Potter, Ian (2008). The Rise and Rise of the Independents: A Television History. Isleworth: Guerilla Books. ISBN 9780955494321. OCLC 236120118.
- Warner, Jennifer (5 September 2014). The Unofficial History of the Paddington Bear. BookCaps Study Guides. p. 40. ISBN 9781629173818. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Biography: Edward McLachlan". British Cartoon Archive. University of Kent. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Alexander, Geoff (2010). Academic Films for the Classroom: A History. Jefferson: McFarland & Co. pp. 65–66. ISBN 9780786458707. OCLC 601049093. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "CINAR Completes Acquisition of FilmFair" (Press release). CINAR Films, Inc. 26 November 1996. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- "DHX Media Closes Acquisition of Cookie Jar Entertainment" (Press release). Halifax: DHX Media. 22 October 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "Paddington Goes to the Movies". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Paddington Goes to School at IMDb
- "Paddington's Birthday Bonanza". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "The Wombles". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Brown Bear's Wedding at IMDb
- White Bear's Secret at IMDb
- "Martin Cheek stop-frame puppet animation – Page 2 – Animator Mag".
- "Graham Clutterbuck: An Animated Line in Merchandise". Director. Director Publications. 31: 28. 1978.