FilmFair Communications
Filmfair Animation
IndustryTelevision production
Film
Founded1959; 65 years ago (1959) (as FilmFair)
1968; 56 years ago (1968) (as FilmFair London)
Defunct1996; 28 years ago (1996)
FateFilmFair: Library sold to Altschul Group Corporation
FilmFair London: Sold to and absorbed by CINAR Films
SuccessorAltschyl Group Corporation
WildBrain
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, U.S.
London, England
Key people
ParentIndependent (1968–early 1980s)
Central Independent Television (early 1980s–1991)
Caspian Group (1991–1996)
The evolution of WildBrain
1968FilmFair London is founded
1971DIC Audiovisuel is founded
1972Strawberry Shortcake brand is first developed
1974CPLG is founded
1976CINAR and Colossal Pictures are founded
1982DIC Enterprises is founded
1984Ragdoll Productions is founded
1987DIC Audiovisuel closes
1988Studio B Productions is founded
1992Epitome Pictures is founded
1993DIC Enterprises becomes DIC Entertainment
1994Wild Brain is founded‚ and Red Rover Studios is founded, DIC Entertainment brands as The Incredible World of DIC
1995Platinum Disc Corporation is founded
1996CINAR buys FilmFair's library
1997Decode Entertainment is founded
1999Wild Brain acquires Colossal Pictures' employee base
2002Nerd Corps Entertainment is founded
2004Halifax Film Company is founded, CINAR rebrands as Cookie Jar Group
2005Platinum Disc Corporation merge as Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
2006Decode and Halifax Film merge as DHX Media, DIC acquires CPLG, and Ragdoll Worldwide is formed with BBC Worldwide
2007DHX Media buys Studio B Productions and Wild Brain becomes Wildbrain Entertainment
2008Cookie Jar Group absorbs DIC and House of Cool absorbs Red Rover Studios
2010DHX Media buys Wildbrain Entertainment‚ and Peanuts Worldwide is founded
2011Decode Entertainment and Red Rover Studios closes
2012DHX Media buys Cookie Jar Group
2013DHX Media buys Ragdoll Worldwide
2014DHX Media buys Epitome Pictures, Nerd Corps, and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's family content library; Cookie Jar Group is absorbed
2016The WildBrain multi-channel network launches and Studio B and Nerd Corps merge as DHX Studios
2017Wildbrain Entertainment closes; DHX Media buys Peanuts Worldwide and Strawberry Shortcake
2018Halifax Film becomes Island of Misfits
2019DHX Media rebrands as WildBrain, Epitome Pictures closes, and the WildBrain MCN becomes WildBrain Spark
2020CPLG becomes WildBrain CPLG
2021Echo Bridge Home Entertainment closes
2023WildBrain acquires House of Cool
2024WildBrain Spark merged into its parent company as WildBrain London

FilmFair was a British production company and animation studio that produced children's television series, animated cartoons, educational films, and television advertisements. The company made numerous stop motion films using puppets, clay animation, and cutout animation.

History

Foundation

FilmFair was founded in 1959 by American animator Gus Jekel in Los Angeles, California. After working with Walt Disney Productions and other Hollywood animation studios in the 1930s, Jekel incorporated FilmFair because he wanted the freedom to create live action work as well. The studio was in Animation Alley, a stretch of Cahuenga Boulevard that runs through Studio City in northern Los Angeles.[1]

Jekel's company produced television advertisements—some animated, others live action—and was extremely successful; even Disney was a client.[2][3]

In the late 1960s, Jekel asked an English colleague, Graham Clutterbuck, to start a European office for FilmFair. Clutterbuck had been producing and coordinating television ads for European advertising agencies and had just lost his job as director general of Les Cinéastes Associés in Paris. Although he was not well-acquainted with animation, Clutterbuck accepted the job offer. Clutterbuck established FilmFair's European office in Paris. It was there that he met Serge Danot, who pitched his ideas for a children's series, but Clutterbuck turned him down. Soon after, Danot signed a contract with the BBC to produce the series The Magic Roundabout. He invited Clutterbuck to watch them film. While there, Clutterbuck met the series' co-creator, Ivor Wood.[2] Later, the two men agreed that Wood would make animated films for FilmFair. The success of The Magic Roundabout paved the way for more stop-motion animation at the BBC. Soon, Wood came up with the idea for The Herbs, which premiered on BBC1 in 1968.[2]

FilmFair London

By this time, Beatlemania had made England a cultural hotspot. Clutterbuck found it too difficult to attract English talent to France, so he moved the office to London.[2] There, Barry Leith joined the company as director of animation. Wood and Leith collaborated on The Wombles, but Wood also had a few ideas for animating Michael Bond's stories about Paddington Bear. Bond was enthusiastic about Wood's artistic vision and began scripting the first series.[4] BBC1 premiered Paddington in 1976 to great acclaim. FilmFair produced new episodes of the programme for three years, and it expanded into a considerable media franchise.

FilmFair continued to produce successful stop motion programmes through the mid-1970s. The company's first classically animated series, Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, premiered in 1974 on ITV. It was adapted from a series of children's books written and illustrated by Edward McLachlan.[5] The company's first series not directed by Wood was The Perishers, a classically animated series directed by Dick Horn.

As FilmFair London continued to produce animated television series for the BBC and ITV, they eventually reached an international audience through broadcast syndication and home video distribution.

Acquisitions

In the early 1980s, Central Independent Television bought a controlling share of the European branch of FilmFair. Graham Clutterbuck died of cancer on 30 April 1988; FilmFair dedicated Bangers and Mash to his memory.

In 1991, Central sold FilmFair to Storm Group (also known as the Caspian Group), one of FilmFair's video distributors. Altschul Group Corporation (AGC) bought FilmFair's American branch in 1992, as part of campaign to acquire more than a dozen film companies. Discovery Education, a subsidiary of Discovery Communications, bought AGC's film catalogue in 2003.[6] As of 2022, Discovery Education is now owned by Clearlake Capital, with Francisco Partners along with Discovery, Inc.'s successor and Warner Bros. parent company Warner Bros. Discovery holding minority stakes.

In 1996, the Caspian Group sold FilmFair London's catalogue and production amenities to Canada-based company CINAR Films, whose purchase included all associated distribution, publication, licensing, and merchandising rights.[7] In 2000, Cinar executives were implicated in a financial scandal, and again in 2001. In 2004, the company rebranded to Cookie Jar Group, which in turn was acquired by DHX Media (now WildBrain) in 2012, thus acquiring the rights to the European FilmFair properties and making DHX the largest independent producer of kids programming with 8,550 half hours up from 2,550.[8]

Productions

Animated television series

Title Original
broadcast
Network Animation Director(s)
The Herbs 1968 BBC1 Stop motion Ivor Wood
Hattytown Tales 1969–1973 Thames for ITV Stop motion Ivor Wood
The Adventures of Parsley 1970 BBC1 Stop motion Ivor Wood
The Wombles 1973–1975 BBC1 Stop motion Ivor Wood
Barry Leith (dir. of animation)
Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings 1974–1976 Thames for ITV Traditional Ivor Wood
Paddington 1975–1986 BBC1 Stop motion Ivor Wood
Barry Leith (dir. of animation)
The Perishers 1978–1979 BBC1 Traditional Dick Horn
Moschops 1983 Central for ITV Stop motion Martin Pullen
The Adventures of Portland Bill 1983 Central for ITV Stop motion John Grace
The Blunders 1986 Central for ITV Traditional Ian Sachs
The Shoe People 1987 TV-am for ITV Traditional Clennell Rawson
Edward and Friends 1987 BBC2 Stop motion Martin Pullen
Jo Pullen
Jeff Newitt
Windfalls 1988 Central for ITV Stop motion Jenny Kenna
Stories of the Sylvanian Families 1988 Central for ITV Stop motion Jo Pullen
Martin Pullen
Bangers and Mash 1988 Central for ITV Traditional Ian Sachs
Huxley Pig 1989–1990 Central for ITV Stop motion Martin Pullen
Nellie the Elephant 1990–1991 Central for ITV Traditional Terry Ward
The Dreamstone 1990–1995 Central for ITV Traditional Martin Gates
Rod 'n' Emu 1991 Central for ITV Traditional Ian Sachs
Dick Horn
The Gingerbread Man 1992 Central for ITV Stop motion Martin Pullen
Astro Farm 1992–1996 Central for ITV Stop motion David Johnson
The Legends of Treasure Island 1993–1995 Central for ITV Traditional Dino Athanassiou
Simon Ward-Horner

Television specials

Title Premiere Network Animation Director
Paddington Goes to the Movies 1980 BBC1 Stop motion Barry Leith[9]
Paddington Goes to School 1984 BBC1 Stop motion Martin Pullen[10]
Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza 1986 BBC1 Stop motion Glenn Whiting[11]
Totally Minnie 1988 NBC Traditional Scot Garen
World Womble Day 1990 Central for ITV Stop motion Martin Pullen[12]
The Wandering Wombles 1991 Central for ITV Stop motion Martin Pullen[12]
Brown Bear's Wedding 1991 Central for ITV Traditional Chris Randall (anim.)[13]
White Bear's Secret 1992 Central for ITV Traditional Chris Randall (anim.)[14]

Pilots

Title Premiere Animation
The Further Adventures of Noddy[15] 1983 Stop motion

See also

References

  1. ^ Sito, Tom (2006). "Lost Generations, 1952–1988". Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-8131-2407-0. OCLC 69331438. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "Graham Clutterbuck: A great entrepreneur". Animator (23). 1988. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  3. ^ Potter, Ian (2008). The Rise and Rise of the Independents: A Television History. Isleworth: Guerilla Books. ISBN 9780955494321. OCLC 236120118.
  4. ^ Warner, Jennifer (5 September 2014). The Unofficial History of the Paddington Bear. BookCaps Study Guides. p. 40. ISBN 9781629173818. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Biography: Edward McLachlan". British Cartoon Archive. University of Kent. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  6. ^ Alexander, Geoff (2010). Academic Films for the Classroom: A History. Jefferson: McFarland & Co. pp. 65–66. ISBN 9780786458707. OCLC 601049093. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  7. ^ "CINAR Completes Acquisition of FilmFair" (Press release). CINAR Films, Inc. 26 November 1996. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  8. ^ "DHX Media Closes Acquisition of Cookie Jar Entertainment" (Press release). Halifax: DHX Media. 22 October 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Paddington Goes to the Movies". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  10. ^ Paddington Goes to School at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  11. ^ "Paddington's Birthday Bonanza". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b "The Wombles". Toonhound. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  13. ^ Brown Bear's Wedding at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  14. ^ White Bear's Secret at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  15. ^ "Martin Cheek stop-frame puppet animation – Page 2 – Animator Mag". 9 December 2010.

Further reading