Marc Craste

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Marc Craste didn't find his way until he found his way back home. "I started in Sydney and was working [there] during my 20s doing 2D animation which was inspired by seeing Disney films as a kid," explains the senior animation director at London's Studio AKA. "I wanted to do more animation, but it didn't really go very far in Sydney, working on relatively inconsequential stuff. When I was there, I saw some show reels of English commercial houses." Turns out, "I was born in London and had a British passport, so I came over here to work about ten, eleven years ago, landed in this place and have been here ever since."

Finally on home turf, Craste directed Jojo in the Stars, the 2004 BAFTA-winning animated short about subversive android lust, which helped to give his animation career a big boost, eventually leading to intriguing, recent spots that include adverts for U.K. bank Lloyds, and Guinness's recent "Rugby" spot.

Craste has always emphasized that JoJo was a reaction against the commercial world, but it's no secret that any good piece of entertainment is sure to attract admirers from those circles. On Guinness, "the agency guys loved Jojo in the Stars," he says. "They'd seen it and loved it, and wanted something that looked and felt a lot like that."

"Rugby," which features otherworldly beings engaged in a grudge match on the field, indeed bears a dark, brooding style similar to that of Jojo. But the subject itself posed a new challenge for the animator. "It was a tough job to do mainly because the clients were big rugby fans and I'm not," he explains. Moreover, "we're on such a tight timeframe that it's very difficult to build characters that are capable of doing more than rudimentary actions. That was a lot of work, making sure we had characters that could actually do the moves that were required. Then, the agency guys [came] down to the local park and we filmed them going through the moves. That was more for me because I didn't have a clue of what they were talking about."

Next up for Craste is the short film "Varmints," written by children's author Helen Ward. "She'd seen some stuff that I did a few years back, really liked it and wrote this for me to illustrate," he says. "It's been flying around the studio for a while and someone said we ought to turn this into a film so it's shaping up to be quite nice."

As his spots career seems to be taking its own nice shape, "I seem to have, after all these years, struck a balance where I can dictate a certain amount with commercials and make it interesting for myself and still get to do the things I really like," Craste says. "I've got the best of both worlds at the moment."

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