Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The cartoons of Derek Phillips

On a film-by-film basis, Derek Phillips was one of the most prolific contributors to the British independent animation scene of the sixties and seventies. The BFI Database covers Phillips' career from directing So Soon in 1960 to working as a camera operator on Henry's Cat in 1985. Between the two he directed dozens of short films and the 1980 TV series Aubrey; in 1992 he produced another series, Car-Toon with Little Brmm (also known as The Adventures of the Little Red Car).

After this, he seems to have vanished from view; I don't know of any later projects that he worked on, and very little has been written about his animation.


A Passing Phase from 1966 is one of Phillips' earlier shorts. It suffers in comparison with Bruno Bozzetto's 1990 Grasshoppers, which is a wittier and punchier short with the same basic idea, although it could be argued that Phillips' film is more visually inventive.































1969's A Note from Above is a more minimalist film.

















The Battle, from 1970. John Daborn provided the backgrounds.













I'm not sure when this one was made; the BFI database lists a 1974 film called The Losers [sic] Club and a short from 1982 called Welcome to the Loser's Club. The second sounds like some kind of remake, and because of its ambiguous title sequence this one could be either of them.

















The minute-long Weird from 1973 consists of two strange characters meeting each other, falling about laughing and then walking their separate ways. Very short films such as this may account for Phillips' lengthy filmography.









A Concert from 1975 is a similarly brief film, clocking in at under a minute long. For some reason a number of sources give its title as "A" Concert.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this Neil; I've been thinking about Derek Phillips just recently and trying to find examples of his work to show students. Derek came out to the National Film school in '75 or '76 to talk to Phil Austin and I, the two lone animators, about his work. A very nice man, as I recall, and obviously dedicated to his art, an art that we didn't really appreciate so well at the time, since we were reacting against what we saw as 'message' films (though, obviously, we were politeness itself). Still, I'd love to see these films again and I think they would definitely have something to say to some of the students I teach in Falmouth. If you ever find out where to get copies, I'd love to know.
    Terrific website, by the way, a fantastic resource; thanks for doing all this work for us all.
    Derek Hayes

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  2. Thanks for the feedback - it's always appreciated. Unfortunately the only prints of Phillips' films I have access to are old taped-off-the-TV copies - like I say, he just seems to have vanished from view...

    Little Red Car was apparently released on video, however.

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  3. Speaking of Derek Phillips, do you happen to have anything of Aubrey and Crazy Crow, just wondering?

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  4. I'm afraid not - to be honest, I'd never even heard of Crazy Crow before. But this site has some Aubrey screencaps:

    http://www.thechestnut.com/aubrey.htm

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  5. Darn, I read on Aubrey's Toonhound page that Derek Phillips apparently did a Crazy Crow series in 1991.

    As for Aubrey, well the only thing from that show available on YouTube now are 6 episodes, i know there are more than 6 episodes that are available for example, i remember seeing one with a Magic Show, one with a Beanstalk and one that featured going to the dentist, i also remember that Radio-Canada aired them between 2002 and 2006, where i last saw them.

    Hopefully, if all 39 episodes exist, that someone could get off of their chairs and properly release Aubrey on DVD, i remember hearing someone once say that it was released on VHS at some point.

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  6. note from niece so thrilled that someone appreciates my uncles work I would love to see all of his work as well as the losers club definately not 1982 as we viewed it in paris during the 1970s he did a short film called the visitor which my sister and I were photographed for if you are still interested i shall try and dig for more thankfully my dear genius uncle is still with us though now an elderly gentleman

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  7. Thanks for your comment - it's always a pleasure to hear from people who know the animators and can bring something personal to the table. I'd love to learn more about his films - drop me a message (my E-mail address is in the right-hand column) if you want to discuss things.

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  8. I love Aubrey, always did and always will, what an interesting, weird and funny cartoon.

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  9. Hi there, I work for the BFI and we are looking to digitise some of Derek Phillips films, but we need his permission. Does anyone have a contact for him? I am contactable via our department's facebook page https://www.facebook.com/drewsduediligence
    Any help is greatly appreciated. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there, I work for the BFI and we are looking to digitise some of Derek Phillips films, but we need his permission. Does anyone have a contact for him? I am contactable via our department's facebook page https://www.facebook.com/drewsduediligence
    Any help is greatly appreciated. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete