David Sproxton, co-founder of Oscar winning independent Bristol animation studio Aardman, is stepping down from his role as MD after 43 years. His successor is Sean Clarke, who has been at the company for more than 20 years and was in charge of the International Rights and Marketing department for more than a decade. Sproxton will not be leaving Aardman altogether as he will continue sit on the Trustee Board and work as a consultant to the House of Wallace and Gromit.
It’s been a busy time for the studio, which was founded by Sproxton and Peter Lord back in 1976, with new feature films in development as well as multiple projects with advertising partners, digital platforms, games developers and ‘immersive entertainment experiences’. Last November, Sproxton and Lord turned Aardman into an employee-owned company to secure its creative future and keep it out of the paws of any predatory corporation that may come sniffing round.
Commented David Sproxton: “We were determined to find the best possible candidate for the role, which is critical for securing the studio’s future especially in its Employee Owned incarnation. I am delighted that Sean cut through very strong competition to take my place. He has a deep understanding of the creative culture at Aardman – which will ensure continuity – in addition to a very strong, clear and exciting strategy to take the company forward, so it will certainly not be resting on its laurels. There are wonderful projects on the slate with new creative talent behind them and the future looks very bright. I am more than confident that with Sean leading the Executive Board the company will thrive.”
Added Sean Clarke: “It’s an honour to be taking on the MD role and a privilege to be leading Aardman in this exciting new era of Employee Ownership. The studio’s strength has always been in its visionary creativity and storytelling expertise which, combined, mean that we are able to adapt to new platforms and changes in the way we consume entertainment whilst delivering consistently inspiring, funny and engaging animation. Ensuring that our independent spirit and our unique blend of innovation and integrity remain at the heart of everything we do – while nurturing and supporting sensational new creatives alongside our existing roster of incredible talent – will be a guiding principle.”
Aardman’s latest film, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, opens on Friday 18th October. The Encounters festival has an exclusive preview on Saturday 28 September. Go here for tickets and further information. The studio’s first major piece of original content for the theme park market, a ‘4D immersive experience’ with brand new characters, will open at Efteling: World of Wonders in the Netherlands at the end of November. Aardman’s next feature will be a sequel to 2000’s Chicken Run, which remains the studio’s biggest box office hit. No plot details or release date have been announced.