To mark 10 years of our very special #BZShorts programme, last week we held a celebration, inviting directors, clients, friends, and family to come together in recognition of the incredible creativity and hard work that has gone into the 20+ shorts produced for this programme.

The Blue Zoo Shorts Programme is a curated collection of animated short films, showcasing diverse artistic styles, storytelling techniques, and imaginative narratives. It encourages staff opportunity and creative innovation by allowing anyone in the studio to pitch ideas, with the best idea chosen through a studio-wide vote for production.

A handful of some of the incredible shorts we've created over the last decade

The celebration of the programme was held on May 11th 2023 at Regent Street Cinema in London where we invited 7 speakers - directors of a handful of the shorts - to join BZ Co-Founder, Tom Box, on stage and talk about their first-hand experiences directing a short film.

All set up and ready to celebrate at Regent Street Cinema

For the first half of the panel discussion, Christmas came early as the panellists reminisced about creating Christmas music videos, ‘Let’s Not Go Away’ directed by Katie Gascoyne and ‘More Stuff’ directed by Joe Kinch and Simone Giampaolo, as well as the follow up film, ‘No More Stuff’.

BZ Shorts Directors Simone Giampaolo, Joe Kinch, Katie Gascoyne and Ben Steer (L-R) talking to BZ Co-founder Tom Box during the first half of our panel

Katie, who when she originally pitched to direct worked in recruitment here at Blue Zoo, and is now a Creative Producer in the Developments team here, said, “Every piece of work is a piece of you. It’s a small exploration of your creativity. There isn’t really a house style for the studio and I love the breadth of work that comes from this programme.”

Joe and Simone were reunited to discuss creating their two films, Joe said, “[No More Stuff] was a unique opportunity, where we got a ton of animators involved to create something experimental that ramps up in excitement as it goes on.”

BZ Short 'No More Stuff', directed by Simone Giampaolo and Joe Kinch

Ben Steer, who directed Mamoon, the BAFTA-nominated short achieved by projecting light onto polystyrene, wrapped up the first panel by remarking, “I haven’t worked in polystyrene since and I never will again…! But I hope to bring something unique to every project. The medium will fit the brief.”

BAFTA-nominated 'Mamoon' directed by Ben Steer

In the second half of the panel discussion, Sinking Feeling director, Mark Spokes talked about creating his film for the charity, PAPYRUS, working to prevent youth suicide.

BZ Shorts Directors Dane Winn, Mark Spokes and Zoe Rissér (L-R) talking to Tom Box during the second half of our panel

He remembered working with a large team and experimenting using open source programme, Blender. Saying it was an important project for him as someone who had “first-hand experience” knowing people in his life who had struggled with suicidal thoughts. Mark said, “When I said, ‘why did you never tell me?’ they replied, ‘you never asked.’ So I truly hope this film helps people talk about this difficult subject.”

Dane Winn’s film, Ada, portrayed the true story of an Inupiat woman stranded on an Arctic island struggling to survive and return home to her son. Dane remembers being proud of the “unique” sound brought to the film using only throat singing performances to create the background music.

Finally, Zoe Rissér, whose film has racked up over 200 million views on social media, explains that the reason she made the film in vertical aspect ratio was to speak to the “new generation” of viewers. She says, “I love looking at the YouTube comments, which is usually a terrible place! But on this film people share their personal stories and some of the comments bring me to tears.”

The night had a wonderful vibe and it was truly special to see the directors all together in the same room, as many people had not seen each other in years!

A huge thank you to our speakers and to everyone who joined us to toast the creativity and teamwork that poured into making each one of these unique short films.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has directed, contributed, or worked on any of our shorts over the past 10 years - none of it could have happened without you. Here’s to the next 10 years of BZ Shorts!

The twenty BZ Shorts we've created over the past ten years

You can watch all of the Blue Zoo shorts films on the Blue Zoo Website and follow please Blue Zoo on social media to hear all about the upcoming short films!