Monday 10 October 2011

Ilkla Moor Baht Hat

It is thirty years since I made my first film Ilkla Moor Baht Hat at the Royal College of Art. As I was just reminded, by an organisation researching the films that were shown in The New Contemporaries Exhibition in 1982. 
Ilkla Moor Baht Hat 1981 by Emma Calder

They also wanted recollections about the exhibition. Sadly I didn't go to the show, I was too busy working on my next film Madame Potatoe, but, I do have a few bits and pieces connected to the film.

The leaflet I made for the RCA Second Year Show

Half way through my first year there was an opportunity for Graphics and Illustration students to do an animation workshop with the animators (Heros of my childhood) Bob Godfrey (Roobarb, Henry's Cat and many more...) Dick Taylor (Crystal Tips and Alistair and more).

Some drawings I did of Dick Taylor, the day Dick and Bob Godfrey came to introduce their work.

Afterwards, our Graphics tutor said she would tutor us on our storyboards when Bob and Dick weren't around. About eighteen students signed up to do the animation and the plan was to each make a very short film.

Unfortunately this tutor was very hard on the students. She said our ideas wouldn't work for animation, or were a waste of time. She also told me I couldn't draw. I said I was interested in the circular idea of the Yorkshire song and I thought the simple story of the song a good way to start learning animation. I did agree about the bad drawing though, so I drew all the art work really small in the hope that enlarged the drawings would have a more interesting quality.

Here is the original artwork sheet before being blown up on a PMT (Photo Mechanical Transfer) machine, coloured and cut out ready for the paper cut out animation.

 Artwork from Ilkla Moor Baht Hat

Bob and Dick were very encouraging to us all but, this tutor was so negative about my work, I decided to stop working on the film and I disappeared from college for three weeks. Visiting my friend in the Lake District with all the artwork and storyboard. She liked my idea, told me I was giving up too easily and I should listen to Bob and Dick, not a tutor, who probably had some other private agenda.

When I arrived back in the studio at the RCA my desk was covered in funny drawings by Bob Godfrey, who had been searching for me to tutor. He was quite desperate as all the other students had given up their films. Thanks to the tutor. What was her name? 
Bob Godfrey's funny drawing of my character from Ilkla Moor Baht Hat

So I carried on making the film, luckily for Bob and Dick, as they thought they were going to be sacked.

The head of the film school Dick Ross, let me have the entie budget set aside for the animation workshop, so I was able to make a proper film shot on 16 mm negative stock, not just a little test as had been originally planned for each student.
The artwork and storyboards took about six weeks, We recorded the music in the piano room at the RCA prior to doing the animation, in one take, in one half hour session. The animation and editing took about two weeks. The song was sung and played on the piano by David E Glasson then of Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band (and now playing with Three Bonzos and a Piano).

If I had listened to the tutor, things might have turned out very differently!


  1. wow thats very interesting. thanks for sharing this!
    I'm currently studying animation at CSM, and fortunately our tutors are great, but if I hadn't happened to have come across Bob's 1970 BBC documentary 'the craftsman' I would probably not have had the courage/inspiration to apply for my course at all.

  2. Hi Emma

    Really great to see this again after all these years. I trust you are well and life has been good to you. I've posted a link on our band's website (www, and FB page.

    My blog (of a quite different type) is here:

  3. Sorry not to have replied sooner but up to my ears in a film. Been meaning to try and come to see Three Bozos. someone I met recently said the Pub you play at is being refurbished but will be finished soon. I hope your hands are getting better. Very upsetting. I met someone from Bobby Kerrs old band at Bob Godfreys wake and he mentioned how bad it had been and then I read your blog. Best wishes Emma. PS I am in a band too at Morley college, playing the clarinet, which I started to play again about 4 years ago, after a gap of 36 years I played briefly as a child, but wasn't much good. Still pretty rough!!