Ink Animations profile
From punk to cartoons. Bob Last’s career has been diverse, if nothing else. Fortunately, though, for Last, it has been something else – successful. Having played in his own punk band, Last went into management with Fast Product Label in 1977. During the 80s the company managed bands the calibre of The Human League and ABC and Heaven 17, spawning hits worldwide.
Now he plans to make hits the world over again. However, this time there will be no leather trousers and eye make-up involved. Last recently founded Ink Animations, an animation studio, on the back of the controversial Promised Land, a short animated film by Israeli director Gili Dolev.
But, having introduced the world to tunes like “Don’t You Want Me” and “Temptation”, why choose Dundee as a base when, surely, the world, if not the UK, should be his oyster?
“There were two very good reasons for us setting up in Dundee. First, there is a very strong animation base coming through the universities, so there is continual access to talent. And at the end of the day, it’s a talent business.
“Second, there is a high density of computer games companies that are based in Dundee and there is often scope for animation in the development of these games too. Hopefully, we will be at hand to capitalise.
“Dundee has a long history of incubating talent in the science and technology industries, not the arts. But Dundee University, along with Interactive Tayside, has now decided to invest in the arts and that has really encouraged us to stay based in Dundee rather than anywhere else.”
“We are looking to the international market and we are trying to focus on integrating classic animation skills with digital opportunities. It is an international market and it is not just Dundee that we look to. It isn’t even just Scotland.
“We want to make the next Shrek or Toy Story. That’s a bit down the line yet, but I feel that we have really set a bench-mark in Promised Land.”
Promised Land is an animated film by Israeli director Gili Dolev, featuring a Palestinian suicide bomber rapping on a bus about the rewards that await him in heaven.
Other vignettes within the 15-minute film include a racist thug who attacks elderly Arabs, and Gaddi, an Israeli soldier who shrugs his soldiers when a child is killed in crossfire.
The film, which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year, has come in for critical acclaim internationally, but is considered too controversial to show in the Middle East.
Ink is now currently helping co-produce a feature with Zen Trope, Lars Von Trier’s (Dancer in the Dark) company. But while the next Shrek may be a while in coming, Ink Animation continues to produce work for smaller clients and corporate projects.
“Advertising is a good market for animation,” says Last. “Simon Scott, creative director at The Union, is a non-executive director of the company. I think that this is important as advertising deals with animation quite a lot and, hopefully, that will help us to get some work out of it. There are a great many new channels for entertainment, all of which are generating a demand for animation and story telling.”