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The Story of Anomaly’s Avian Animation

The Story of Anomaly’s Avian Animation

The making of The 12 Days of Christmas: a Tale of Avian Misery.

Craig Ainsley, writer and co-director of the London agency’s awesome Christmas animation, talks about getting Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the coop, the idea behind the film and the advantages of wearing toweling headbands throughout the process.

Fans of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s take on the dating woes of modern, metropolitan woman, as outlined in her hit TV and stage show, Fleabag, will love Anomaly’s excellent Christmas cartoon, released on Monday, in which she reprises her character's blend of tenderness and withering irony.

A re-telling of the traditional carol, the film reveals how the Fleabagy lass copes when her crazed 'true love’ gifts her an entire farmyard’s worth of poultry, together with assorted leaping lords and milking maids in a true example of Christmas madness gone mad.



"At Anomaly, if we find something interesting or funny or entertaining or bird-related, we just like to make it,” says Oli Beale, the agency’s ECD. And we have the people here needed to bring almost anything to life. (Within reason. We’re not going to, like, invent a new space ship or something. But production wise, we can do the full shebang.) This is our gift of entertainment to the nation this Christmas."

And here’s Craig Ainsley, freelance writer/director and CD at Anomaly, with the lowdown on the making of birdy beauty.


How did you come to develop the idea of updating a Christmas carol?

It’s adapted from short story I wrote last year. The 12 Days of Christmas song was playing on TV and I thought, whoever is giving those gifts is a lunatic. Then we came up with the idea of animating it for this Christmas. You could never shoot it. Too many animals. Too much craziness.



Did you try out any other carols before hitting upon The 12 Days of Christmas?

No. But they are all a bit weird so you probably could do something.


How easy was it to get Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board?

Luckily, she liked the story so it was simple.


Did Phoebe Waller-Bridge have a hand in developing the script at all?

The script was finished when we sent it to her. But it was written in the voice of a modern woman living in London, struggling in her relationship. So when we saw Fleabag we were like, she’d be amazing.

We just asked her to read it in her voice and she made it her own with all those lovely asides and inflections she has in the TV show.

How long did it take from concept to finished film?

I think we recorded Phoebe at the end of October. Then we storyboarded to her delivery. After that came the animation, which was quite task and which consumed quite a lot of Ben White’s (our animator) life. We then inched our way forward like slow worms carrying heavy bags, and the film was finally finished just last week.


What was the most fun bit of creating it?

It was fun to experiment with anything that would serve the story. There are lots of nuances and hidden jokes in the animation. The idea was to push anything that would make life hell for our protagonist. We had three animators working on it in house and every time I checked in there was something new and crazy happening way off in the background, which is fine.

And doing the sound was fun too. Experimenting with the cacophony of bird sounds. Oli Beale suggested that the swans have jazz saxophones as voices, which somehow made complete sense.

Any headaches/obstacles during the making of...?

Luckily, minimal headaches. We all made sure to wear comfortable clothing and toweling headbands throughout the process. This really helps with good vibes.

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