Crackin’ video, Gromit, for a Sheffield musician

Nick Park, left, with Joe Rose
Nick Park, left, with Joe Rose

THE last time Oscar-winning animator Nick Park worked on a music video, it was on an award-winning production for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer single 25 years ago.

Now the skills of the Sheffield Polytechnic graduate have been employed on a piece of music by a relatively unknown Sheffield musician.

Nick was so impressed by a song written and performed by Joe Rose that he offered to make the video in time for Christmas, with some of the backdrops in Sheffield, including Joe’s old school, Birkdale.

The creator of Wallace and Gromit even went to Birkdale to talk about the film, answer questions from a 450-strong audience and watch a performance by Joe and the band, Native and the Name.

It was his latest raising of the 28-year-old’s profile after he included the song, Plain Song, as one of his choices last year on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs.

Nick was taught by Joe’s father, Martin, when he studied at the former Psalter Lane art college, from where he graduated in 1980.

The families have become friends and Nick likes the band’s music so much that he and his Aardman Animations in Bristol have now put their weight and skills behind the video.

Also in the group are Joe’s brother, Jack, and sister, Esther, who both live in Hillsborough.

The internationally-renowned animator felt it was important to make the band’s home town of Sheffield the location for the film, which combines some animation (not using Plasticine) with scenes from the railway station, Tudor Square and the Winter Garden.

Part of the video shows the band performing at the studios in Bristol watched by fans, while a staircase sequence featuring a little girl wearing angel wings leading a boy (a nod to an early film, Amelia and the Angel, by Ken Russell, who died this week) was filmed at Birkdale.

Joe won a music scholarship at the school, leaving about nine years ago to become a self-employed musician.

“It was exciting stuff, the first music video we have ever done,” said Joe, who lives in Nether Green. “It was great to go to Aardman to film it. There was a crew who were doing it in their own time.

“It was a fun experience and working with Nick you could see how sensitive he is to about getting the right thing across. He wanted to know about the song so he could interpret it.”

Joe has written about 200 songs and has also performed in another band, The Guild, and solo, securing deals with record companies. Plain Song was based on an experience in a church in Rome and is a downloadable single to be taken from Native and the Name’s new album, Under Branches High.

“They are an amazing band,” said Martin, an artist, who lives with wife Kate, also an artist, in Fulwood. “If they could he heard by the public, they would never look back. It’s just getting through.”

He described Nick’s involvement in the video as “great for the city and it’s great for the school. You can’t get a better endorsement than somebody like Nick Park. He has given about six months to work on this because he believes in it so much.”

Nick, who lined up Joe on Desert Island Discs alongside Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, said at the time: “The music industry is so hard to break into that I feel quite overwhelmed that I might have managed to help Joe.”

The evening at Birkdale started with pupil Sam Oliver interviewing Nick Park, followed by the school’s music and drama departments presenting an interpretation of his Academy Award-winning A Close Shave. Native and the Name gave a performance, before the school band, the big band and the sixth form choir.

Nick judged an art competition based on Wallace and Gromit at the Beach, which was won by Joel Ford.

Headteacher Dr Paul Owen said: “We feel particularly privileged that Nick visited our school as we know he has never done this kind of event before.

“Our staff, pupils and parents have approached this visit enthusiastically with many getting involved in art, music or drama. We all enjoyed a brilliant day.”

The video is being made available on the band’s and Aardman’s websites.

lBirkdale school of rock: page 7