Jonathan Gales Jonathan Gales

Jonathan Gales, a BAFTA-wining architect, animator, and creative director who co-founded vfx house Factory Fifteen, was killed by a suspected drunk driver while using a pedestrian crosswalk in downtown L.A. on November 19. He was 36 years old.

The tragic news has been confirmed by Factory Fifteen on its official Instagram account, which reads:

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death on the 19th of November, of our co-founder, colleague, and friend Jonathan Gales.

BAFTA-award winning Architect, Animator and Creative Director Jonathan (36) was tragically killed whilst using a pedestrian crossing in LA, by a drunk driver driving at speed in the wrong direction, leaving behind his wife Claire Pepper, who is expecting their second child, and his 23 month-old son Finley Pepper Gales.

We met Jono whilst studying together at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture and, shortly after leaving, took our common passion and formed Factory Fifteen. For nearly 15 years the three of us have spoken every day, sharing both our work and family lives and achieving great things. Earlier this year we won a BAFTA together for our pre-titles for the Tokyo Olympics.

We loved working with Jono, who approached both his job and his hobbies with unbounded curiosity, enjoying the research, the process and the mastery as much as the completed project. Working proactively and without ego, he provided a steadfast creative partner to us both.

It’s difficult to express the synergy between the three of us. Our collaboration was absolutely intuitive and one of total trust from day one. With very little communication or direction we could independently take one another’s ideas and see them through.  We genuinely feel that we have lost a part of who we are.  We will miss you Jono.

We hope you will offer us some patience at this difficult time.

Paul, Kibwe, and the FF Team

Shortly after graduating from the University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture, Gales founded Factory Fifteen along with friends and colleagues Kibwe Tavares and Paul Nicholls. The trio worked together over the following 15 years, and just last year won a BAFTA for the pre-titles they worked on with Nexus Studios and The Mill for the BBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.

The award-winning video was a poppy, musical tour through a neon-flooded mega-city that showed off several popular aspects of Japanese culture and highlighted the country’s passion for sport.

Factory Fifteen has also done commercial work for numerous high-profile global brands, including Formula 1, Samsung, Film 4, and The British Film Institute. The studio was also selected as part of the Saatchi & Saatchi Young Directors Showcase and was nominated for the UK Music Video Awards 2015 for their work on The Bug’s “Function/Void” video.

Gales is survived by his wife Claire Pepper, who is expecting their second child, and his 23-month-old son Finley Pepper Gales.

Pictured at top: Jonathan Gales and a screenshot from Factory Fifteen’s BAFTA-winning mixed-media commercial for BBC’s Tokyo Olympics coverage.


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