For the latest entry in our series, which looks at the coronavirus crisis from the standpoint of individuals in the industry, we speak to Joseph Wallace, an animation director based in Bristol, U.K. Wallace is renowned for his stop-motion shorts, including his graduation film The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling, which was nominated for a BAFTA Cymru award, and his music video for Sparks’s “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me).” His latest film, Salvation Has no Name, was in production at Aardman Animations’s Bristol studio when the coronavirus hit.
Growing up in Bristol, Wallace fell in love with animation through the early short films of Aardman. So he was honored when, decades later, the storied studio invited him to direct his new short on its premises. He’d been developing Salvation Has no Name, an ambitious 16-minute stop-motion folk tale about the refugee crisis, for almost six years. Aardman co-founder Peter Lord admired Wallace’s work, and let the production set up in a corner of the studio.
The short, which is produced by Manchester-based Delaval Film, was a few weeks into its shoot — around a third of the way through — when the coronavirus reached the U.K. At the time, the crew consisted of Wallace, one trainee, and two animators. Frustrated by the government’s “lack of action,” Wallace decided to disband the production on March 20. “We gathered some useful equipment and materials we could take home and we were out. I think we were some of the last people working at Aardman.” Three days later, the country entered its current state of lockdown.