Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown is a new animated short by Aardman and Engine

The multiple Academy Award-winning studio addresses the issue of animals living in captivity in a new short for the Born Free Foundation.

24 July 2020
Reading Time
2 minutes


Aardman, the world-famous animation studio known for its stop-motion claymation in the likes of Wallace and Gromit, Flushed Away and Chicken Run, has teamed up with animal-welfare charity, Born Free Foundation in a new short. Titled Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown, the new film released today (24 July 2020) highlights the plight of wild animals in captivity through reflections on the global Covid-19 lockdown.

Drawing on real interviews of peoples’ experiences in lockdown, the two-minute short reveals how wild animals are forced to live in captivity all their lives, not just as a temporary restriction. Created in collaboration with London-based creative agency Engine, the short highlights similarities between peoples’ experiences in lockdown and the confines that wild animals endure daily.

Created during lockdown, the creative team behind the new film tell us about the unusual creative process. Ollie Agius explains, “Obviously we were hoping to make it all in claymation like the original Creature Comforts, but due to social distancing rules at the time, it would have been impossible to have everyone crammed into the Aardman studios.” So, the team poured their efforts into crafting claymation-like characters and backdrops to get as close to the real thing as possible.

With many a Zoom call and a lot of feedback decks, the team at Engine never managed to work face to face with the four-times Academy Award-winning team on this. Pete Ioulianou, a member of Engine’s creative team, said: “I can’t quite believe how long we spent talking about microphones and mouth shapes.” The production kicked off in April and the team set out to record a number of interviews over Zoom. While the technology seems second nature today, a few months back there were many still unfamiliar with the video-call software. Managing to record the interviews at the height of the lockdown, Laura Melville adds: “We owe a lot to our wonderful cast for sharing their stories with us.”

When it came to the the tone of the film, Engine and Aardman aimed for a delicate balance between the humour of Creature Comforts and the more sombre topic at hand. Incorporating “a mix of emotions to reflect the feelings we all had in lockdown,” says Pete, the creative team wanted the characters to be likeable while hinting to a more emotional note. Ollie puts it another way: “The closer you look and the deeper you listen, the more depressing their situations become.”

GalleryAardman and Engine: Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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