advertisement
advertisement

Why the filmmakers behind Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep sold their company to their employees

Why the filmmakers behind Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep sold their company to their employees
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


Peter Lord and David Sproxton have spent 40 years fashioning quirky and indelible Claymation characters such as Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, reaping more than $1 billion in box-office revenues along the way. They’ve also nurtured a creative workshop culture at their animation studio in Bristol, England, and, nearing retirement age, the duo focused on how best to preserve it. Instead of selling to a conglomerate, Lord and Sproxton enabled their 140 employees to acquire 75% of the company last year and have input into running it via a council. “If people are more involved, they’ll work harder and be more committed,” says Sproxton. The new structure ensures Aardman’s artistic and financial independence as it extends its film, commercial, and merchandising businesses, and enters such realms as VR and video games. Last fall, Aardman’s World War I console game, 11-11: Memories Retold, brought the company’s heartfelt storytelling and visual artistry to a new medium, earning it two BAFTA award nominations. “We look for creative opportunities,” says Lord, who believes that games could grow to be one-third of the company’s profits in a decade. “That’s what we’re for. We don’t exist to make money.”

advertisement
advertisement