Review of the Year 2016: filmmakers Becky and Joe


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In our fifth profile for Review of the Year we speak to filmmakers Becky and Joe about the last episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared and what they’ve learnt this year.

After five years, millions of views and countless fan theories, 2016 saw the sixth and final episode of web phenomenon Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared released into the world. The creators, Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, unleashed the final episode on the 19 June 2016 and since then, more than 12 million people have learned the fates of, and story behind, the three puppet protagonists: Duck, Red Guy and Yellow Guy.

Throughout the last 12 months, beyond the vivid and surreal films, Becky and Joe have bought the characters to life in different ways. The covers of Printed Pages SS saw the trio shot as fashion models by photographer Neil Bedford, and an interview in the magazine sought to provide an insight into the lives of the puppets, offering hints and red herrings about how the series might conclude. Alongside this, Becky and Joe worked with fashion label Lazy Oaf to create a fashion range that brought the tactility, humour and vibrancy of their creations to life.

It wasn’t just Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared that kept the pair busy this year. Both have been abroad writing for top secret projects and in January they released a short advert produced for St John’s Ambulance. Working with a host of comedy talent, the spot saw characters from nursery rhymes offer vital advice on what to do if an infant stops breathing. As would be expected, the information is delivered with wit and charm as Humpty Dumpty, the Cat and the Fiddle, Jack and Jill and Incy Wincy compose a shambolic song (with an infuriatingly catchy tune) that puts the critical information to a melody.

Below, we speak to Becky and Joe about their thoughts on 2016 and find out if episode six really was the last we will see of Duck, Red Guy and Yellow Guy.

What was your creative highlight of 2016?

Lots of good stuff. Shrigley’s plinth is up there, also Kauffman’s Anomalisa was refreshingly unique.

What was your lowlight of 2016?

Lady Ga Ga’s Bowie thing…plus everything else that happened.

What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?

Considering the mad year we’ve all had, lots of great art has been created. Some of it as a response to global events and some of it as an escape. Ultimately it seems it’s about a continued passion to make work and hopefully the good stuff rises to the surface.

Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?

At the beginning of the year we made a fun piece for St John Ambulance and had the pleasure to work with comedy chums Tash Demetriou, Ellie White, Tim Key and Adam Buxton. Jokers.

We’ve also had opportunities to try strange new things alongside our web series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. The clothing range we released in collaboration with Lazy Oaf and the photoshoot we did for Printed Pages mag were really enjoyable ways to expand the world of DHMIS.

Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

Having worked on our weird web series over the last five years, releasing episodes every now and again, it was very rewarding but slightly scary to finally wrap it up with episode six in June. The response to the final episode made us sad to see it was over, for now at least…

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?

It’s grown legs and its eyes can now see in full colour and in all directions. It can jump as high as a horse and can smell human flesh from over a mile away. It has webbed feet, thick fur but still can’t breathe Earth’s air.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?

Go see stuff, go do stuff! Go to Ipswich on your lunch break! Learn Latin in Cafe Nero! Start a band with your brothers! Immersing yourself entirely in your work doesn’t mean you’ll make your best. Remember to have a life!

Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

Joan Cornella. 

Describe 2016 in five words…

Let’s do it all again!

What are your hopes for 2017?

Content! Content! Content!

Supported by Google

At Google, we believe that design is critical to product excellence. That’s why we’re proud to support INT in its effort to champion a broad and inclusive community of creative makers and thinkers with the annual Review of the Year.

We also believe in fostering design through Material Design, a unified system combining theory, resources, and tools to help designers and engineers craft digital experiences, and through Google Design, a cooperative effort whose mission is to support design and engineering excellence by producing original articles, videos, events, as well as creative and educational partnerships. Sign up for the Google Design Newsletter.  

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About the Author

Owen Pritchard

Owen joined It’s Nice That as Editor in November of 2015 leading and overseeing all editorial content across online, print and the events programme, before leaving in early 2018.

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