Our newest pick tackles an important issue with all of the creativity and nuance that solid animation can bring. Childline: Nobody is Normal, by Catherine Prowse, is a film for the children’s charity, Childline. It illustrates the illusive idea that nobody is normal, and however weird you think you are, you’re not alone.

“The idea behind the ad,” said Prowse, “was to communicate that adolescent feeling of alienation and isolation and discomfort in your own skin. We were referencing lots of vintage body shock horror movies in order to amp-up the sense of uneasiness. There’s lots of Dutch tilt camera angles, and a limited comic-book style color palette.”

Set to the soundtrack of Radiohead’s “Creep” (could it be anything else?), the short veers back and forth from emo to horror and finally to resolution, with the tag spelled out: “No matter how you feel inside, you are not alone.” With respect to the horror-like feel, Prowse confirms, “The prom scenes were definitely inspired by high school horror films like Carrie. Overall we just wanted to communicate the idea that everyone feels a bit like a weird alien creature deep down and if we all take our masks off occasionally we get to see each other–and be seen, for who we really are.”

When we asked about challenges, this director echoed the sentiments of every one we’ve asked this year: “The biggest challenge with production was it getting delayed a bit by Covid.” It’s a roadblock we can all relate to.

“As a result, I had to do the bulk of the set build in my kitchen. There were a few huge sets like the gymnasium where the prom takes place, so constructing everything at home was a bit of a challenge but it turned into quite a fun lockdown project. I actually had time to luxuriate over things like hand crafting every tiny piece of food on the lunch trays in the cafeteria. Adeena (Grubb), who made the puppets, worked remotely from home and would send me packages of school kids and creatures in the post.”

The hero character’s creature is meant to represent anxiety, so Prowse designed him to have, “This itchy quality with strands of wool constantly twitching and undulating over each other. I wanted it to feel like there was this hidden thing constantly scratching at him internally even when it seemed like he was acting normally.”

The puppet designs are meant to hint at other “issues” as well: body dysmorphia, depression and struggling with coming out as LGBTQ+. “But I wanted a lot of the creature designs to be subtle. This was partly to avoid offensive stereotypes but also important to me that the viewer could make their own associations about what the look of the creatures communicated. I have a specific intention behind each character’s secret inner form, but I wanted kids watching to potentially be able to see themselves reflected in one of the creatures no matter how they were feeling.”

Next up for this talented animator is a collaboration with Blinkink that should be out later next year. “I feel like my style is still evolving so I’m just excited to keep making new work and trying different things out,” she said in closing. “I would love to be able to make more films for good causes in the future too.”


Director: Catherine Prowse
Production Company: Rowdy and Blink
Rowdy Producer: Daisy Garside
Blink Producer: Joe Byrne

Creatuve Agency: The Gate
Chief Creative Officer: Lucas Peon
Creatives: John Osborne, Rickie Marsden, Sam Whatley
Agency producer: Susie Innes
Account director: Sam Dempsey
Strategy Lead: Kit Altin
Media agency: OMD

Director of Photography and Colour Grader: George Warren
Animators: Tim Allen and Tobias Fouracre
Puppet Builder: Adeena Grubb
2D Animator and Compositor: Tom Fisher
Rig Removal: Ieuan Lewis
BTS: Joe Eckworth
Art Department Runners: Feiyang Yin and Stella Chapman
Shot at Clapham Road Studios

Major Tom: Jake Wheeler
Grand Central: Gary Turnbull, Molly Butcher
Music companies: Beggars, Warner Chappell, Concord
Soundtrack: Radiohead