The Bristol-based animation studio has appointed Mark Simon Hewis to head up its Aardman Academy training facility in a new role designed to support and develop upcoming talent, and provide opportunities for students to connect with the animation industry.
Hewis will oversee a 12-week online training program that launched in November 2020 with a course in stop motion. He initially joined Aardman in August as producer, and was instrumental in setting up the program. Hewis was promoted to head of Aardman Academy in March.
Prior to joining the company, Hewis worked on multiple film projects for Channel 4 and the BBC. His 2007 short film The Life Size Zoetrope was nominated for eight British Animation Awards.
Moving forward, the academy plans to build out its team with additional positions. A new producer role will be advertised in the coming weeks, and upcoming openings will focus on further developing the program, bolstering industry partnerships and expanding Aardman Academy’s international reach.
Aardman Academy has already run two fully attended editions of its flagship stop-motion course, and a third is set to begin in September. All of the training was adapted to be delivered online, and that has drawn in students from Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the US.
Aardman is partnering with UK-based non-profit Creative Access to fully fund two bursary spots for upcoming courses. They will be reserved for students from historically excluded communities in an effort to build a more diverse and inclusive animation industry.
Education appears to be a continued focus for Aardman, which recently announced its participation in the Secret Story Draw talent development program. The studio is one of several companies offering a three-month paid internship to the program’s winners, all of whom will be BIPOC creators.