‘Animation on Prescription’ event review by Ellie Land

This day long symposium was designed and delivered by Animation Therapy’s Helen Mason, at this years Encounters Short film and animation festival in September 2012.

‘Animation on prescription’ brought together health professionals, animators and artists at a day long symposium exploring the following themes: animation as a process in a therapy setting, therapeutic interventions as part of the design process and animated documentaries focussing on health issues.

The day started with a key note speech from co founder of Aardman animation’s  David Sproxton, who outlined Aardmans historical relationship and commitment with issue based animation.

It’s difficult to say what the highlight of the day was because of the high quality of each speaker and their project presented. The three I have chosen provide a good insight to the day.

Cleo Ellis, an occupational therapist who uses animation practice in forensic psychiatry, talked about the Animation Therapy model and how the process of animation was instructional to improving the life skills and therefore life chances of her service users.

‘Tree Fu Tom’ an animated series on Cbeebies for young children, was presented by Sally Payne an Occupational therapist who worked closely with the animation director on this production. The goal of this series is to encourage children to live less sedentary life styles, through actively participating with the animated character. The audience help Tom create spells, which advance the story. What was fascinating about this project was how the therapeutic models of the Occupational therapist were embedded into the design of the animation, in particular the narrative and the character design.

Two animated documentaries were screened, ‘Centrefold’ by Ellie Land and’ Mother of many’ by Emma Lazenby, both of which have featured on animateddocumentary.com. It was a really pleasure to watch Mother of Many again, it’s one of those films that feels like an experience. Emma went through some of the research and production processes and played us a live recording of a woman giving birth –which she said she listened to everyday during the 9 month production period!

I attended the previous Animation Therapy symposium 2 years ago, which was just as stimulating and thought provoking as this one. I think this proves that we still have a lot more to talk about and discover about animation in a therapy/ health setting and I cant wait for the next instalment.

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