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Dream Teams: The Fun Tiny Worlds of Adeena Grubb and Andy Biddle

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Blinkink’s stop motion animators Adeena Grubb and Andy Biddle tell LBB’s Zoe Antonov about their mutual love for funny stories and gory endings

Dream Teams: The Fun Tiny Worlds of Adeena Grubb and Andy Biddle

Andy Biddle and Adeena Grubb are stars in Blinkink’sstop motion team. Having worked together on various projects with Blinkink over the last few years, their budding friendship blossomed in March 2020 as the UK went into its first lockdown. All their jobs were cancelled and eager to keep their creative juices flowing, they joined forces to create a lockdown film for easter. Since then they have been collaborating as an impressive directorial duo.

Apart from being one of Wes Anderson’s go to animators and often working with award winning film studios such as Aardman and Laika, Andy has been the lead character animator on pretty much every Blinkink stop motion film since 2010. Meanwhile, in the last few years, Adeena has been creating  amazing hand-crafted works and hilarious films. Her talents in both character creation and model making make her one of the most sought after miniature model and puppet makers in London. Together Andy and Adeena are a mighty dream team of craft and creativity.
 

Around 2015, Andy Biddle and Adeena Grubb met while “working on a crazy music video.” On set, Andy remembers seeing a whole load of art department people he didn’t quite recognise, quietly working the day away on plasticine replacements. Adeena happened to be one of them. “The first time I met Adeena, I found her very shy,” remembers Andy, “but the more I got to know her, I realised how much our personalities matched in terms of humour.” On the flip side, Adeena remembers that from the get go she knew Andy was friendly and one of those people that you instantly get on with.

They crossed paths on more than one job after that music video and “sooner or later [they] became friends.” The duo kept their friendship up for years when one day they decided to make a short animation when the industry shut down during the first covid lockdown. “It was a lot of fun and we realised we wanted to make the same kind of stuff,” says Adeena.

When they started creating more stuff together, Andy remembers finding the process super fun and rewarding, so they just carried on. “I see her now as one of my best friends,” he says fondly. One thing led to another, and they ended up working at Blinkink together after the couple of short films they shared between them.
Their first project together was an animated Easter loop that they made during the lockdown, which proved to be faithful for their relationship as friends, as well as professionals. “Adeena made an Easter bunny and some other props and posted them to me in Walthamstow from her home in Southeast London,” says Andy.I remember this being at the height of the pandemic and I didn’t touch the box for two days out of fear! When I did open it though, I set everything up and animated a little loop to make an Easter card.”


“Our first professional project, however, was a cat food advert,” says Adeena. To both of them this one was a huge learning curve and a bit of a challenge, but also something they had a lot of fun with. “Having the finished animation out in the world came with a very satisfying and rewarding feeling,” she explains. However overwhelming it got at times, neither of them felt too alone, as they always had somebody by their side, and Andy agrees on that.

“It’s always great to have someone else there when you’re unsure about something or have a creative problem,” he says. Among the other benefits of having a creative partner, Adeena points to the fact that they can toss ideas around between the two of them, essentially ending up with a stronger concept in the end.
When thinking about what overlaps in their characters or how they complement each other as a professional duo, Andy puts it into words quite well. “We both love stop motion animation, tiny worlds, silly things, funny situations and gory untimely ends for our characters!” If that’s not a recipe for a great professional partnership and friendship, we don’t know what is. 

“I think we complement each other quite well,” says Adeena. “Andy’s animation expertise and talents with cinematography and my skills in character design and art direction make us quite the team. Combine that with a joint passion for all things animation and you’ve got a solid duo!”

However complimentary, they of course each have some stuff that bugs the other. For instance, how passionate they can both get about their work, which is very much understandable. Creative disagreement is an essential ingredient to fruitful discussion, which Andy and Adeena never lack when it comes to coming up with ideas or freshening up a project. When for both of them the goal is for the films to look “fun, charming, and beautiful,” this is all that really matters. What they both find helps them not get too heated about a project is to delegate specific areas of the job and split them between themselves. Even though they get to dip their toes in all aspects of the project at any point, they find that they have more structures this way.


Speaking of creative disagreement, Andy explains that they have come up with a rule when it comes to it. “If one of us is upset or annoyed by the other, we have to talk about it straight away and not let it ever build up. I used to bottle things up, but it was unhealthy. In general, we agree on most things though.” 

Adeena also says that they try not to hog the limelight. “When we present our ideas to clients and agencies, we will almost cue each other in as we talk through the idea. So, whilst being a creative duo has its tricky moments, it is also very rewarding in a lot of respects, as we almost amp up each other’s creativity.”

When purely talking about the work, the duo is most proud of their Top Cashback spot. “It was a great joke driven ad with comedy moments and fun characters,” but they also had a great time with the team at NOW. Short film wise, they say they love all of them, but audiences tend to gravitate towards Alex and Mr Fluffkins. Adeena specifically points to their ‘Christmas Boss Ross’ animation, purely because they had just been done with a big job, but they made and shot everything in about three weeks.


Something that both Andy and Adeena found challenging recently was a Samsung ad, where they were puppeteering on mostly exterior locations with very strict time limits. Of course, it had to rain on the last day, which made things harder, because the commercial was about a solar remote control (so sunlight was crucial to the ad). “But I guess that’s how shoots go sometimes,” Andy admits. “We fixed some things in post-production and we were both happy with it in the end.”


When it comes to lessons they have learned from each other, Andy admits to have learned how to let go a little from working with Adeena. “I can be a bit of a control freak at the best of times,” especially when it comes to animation. He found it quite challenging at the beginning to be able to let go and trust someone else to make creative decisions alongside him, but he soon saw the benefit of having her as the other half of the creative process. “She’s so bloody talented and it’s an absolute pleasure to make films with her!”

Adeena, on the other hand, says she has learned plenty of camera and animation tips and tricks from Andy. “His talents in animation blow my mind, he makes it look so easy. The ability to breathe life into inanimate objects always amazes me.” 

Besides some invaluable skills in animation, she tells us she has also learned to never “EVER” feed Andy after midnight.

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Blink / Blinkink, Fri, 06 May 2022 15:28:30 GMT