LONDON: Leading U.K. animator Graham Ralph has left Hibbert Ralph, the company he helped create, to form a new business called Silver Fox Films.
Unlike Hibbert Ralph, which does a lot of commercial production, Silver Fox will be dedicated to the kids business. According to Ralph, the separation between the two businesses ‘formalizes something which was happening anyway.’
The split with partner Jerry Hibbert was amicable, says Ralph. As part of the arrangement, Silver Fox will keep the rights to award-winning animations like Forgotten Toys, Spider and First Snow of Winter. Spider is poised to be rereleased on video by BBC Worldwide, while a new series of Forgotten Toys, distributed by Link, will air in the fall.
The rationale for breaking away from Hibbert Ralph was to increase ‘commercial muscle,’ says Ralph. ‘I had to release money from the commercials side to grow my activities in the kids business. I’m talking to partners in the U.S. more and more and need cash to enter international negotiations with confidence.’
As Silver Fox, Ralph immediately adds a BBC commission for a new 26 x 10-minute series called Angelmouse to his slate. He is also developing a new Christmas special for the BBC’s 2000 schedule and a series for eight- to 12-year-olds called Bounty Hamster.
Despite his desire to grow the business, Ralph has no ambition to turn his new operation into a high-volume animation factory. ‘We will keep the number of personnel small,’ he says, ‘and we will keep production in the U.K. where possible. British animators have great skills and we want to continue to work at the high end.’
For now, he has also ruled out a shift into animated features. ‘Once you get into the rarified atmosphere of US$10-million budgets or more, you get a lot of corporate investment and interference. I don’t want to be in the position at this stage of trading off against the creative work.’