YOUNG animator Joe Blandamer, from Axminster, has won an award for one of his latest projects which raises awareness of autism.
Joe, 19, who attended the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis, won Best Animation in the Into Film Awards 2020 for his stop-motion film ‘Overload’.
The film depicts what it feels like to have autism and ride on a busy train, raising awareness of how stressful an everyday situation can be for those suffering from the disorder.
Joe made his film about autism because he has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome himself, and wanted to make a personal film that shows how it feels to be on the spectrum.
The film took about a year of work, which was a result of Joe’s ambitious decision to animate multiple characters at a time, to make the film busier and more intense. Having to move several characters and take multiple pictures meant a couple seconds of animating took several hours to complete.
Joe said: “I wanted to use the film as a way to explain my own experience with being on the spectrum and hopefully relate to others in a similar situation. I found that milder cases of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were never spoken about in education and I wanted to use my claymation skills to educate others.”
Joe has been animating for over 12 years and has always had a love of creativity. As a child, he was constantly drawing and making comics, and when he received an old computer from his aunt at the age of 7, he taught himself how to animate.
Shortly after that he received a webcam and some Plasticine and his love of stop-motion animation flowed from there. Joe sent his animations to a local Exeter film festival, and won first prize, and then began sending his films to as many film festivals as possible.
Some of Joe’s biggest achievements include getting over 2 million views on YouTube with his horror animation ‘Inside the Human Lab’, winning Best International Film by a Young Person under 18 at the Mice International Film Festival (Valencia, Spain), winning Best Young Filmmaker and Best Independent Film across all age categories at Leeds Young Film Festival, and winning Best Teenage Film at St Neots Film Festival.
Joe has also had his films shown in film festivals in Australia, Tunisia, Croatia, Italy and Spain.
He has entered the Into Film Awards for several years; two of his previous films – ‘Snap’ in 2017 and ‘Twang!’ in 2019 – were nominated for awards and he was a recipient of the Ones to Watch Awards in 2016.
A spokesperson for the awards said: “We’re thrilled to have been able to support Joe and witness the progress he’s made, and if ‘Overload’ is anything to go by, his filmmaking is only going from strength to strength.”
Joe commented: “This was my last year to enter the Into Film Awards due to my age so I was very happy to win and receive a trophy. My film ‘Overload’ was also shown at the World Health Organisation film festival which felt incredible!”
Joe is currently freelancing in stop motion animation and is busy creating a range of ideas for clients.
He has no plans to slow things down, commenting: “I definitely plan to keep that going into the future!”
The Into Film Awards, which celebrates the exceptional talent of children and young people aged 5-19 in filmmaking and film reviewing, was originally due to take place with a live event at London’s ODEON Luxe Leicester Square back in March.
Due to COVID-19, the live event – which would have seen more than 400 schoolchildren in attendance, alongside stars of the film and TV industry – could not take place but a virtual awards ceremony was hosted by actor, TV presenter and author David Williams.
Mr Walliams commented: “As an actor, these young people are the future, and you want them to give you a job one day! Anything that encourages creativity is important. We have an amazing film industry in this country, which is often ignored by politicians, and we need to support it.”
Into Film CEO Paul Reeve added: “In a year during which the central ‘homes’ for Into Film’s work – schools and cinemas – have faced extraordinary disruption, we’ve constantly had to find creative ways to keep film at the heart of young people’s learning. So presenting a virtual awards show seems rather fitting, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to make it happen.”