BFI Aardman Development Lab

A development programme aimed at nurturing writers and filmmakers wishing to work in animation.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

The BFI Aardman Animation Development Lab is now underway and applications have closed.

You can apply for animated film feature development through our regular development funding strand. This is open to filmmakers of all levels of experience, and while we expect to support some script development, we can also consider supporting accompanying animation costs, including tests, character design, storyboarding etc. Please read our guidelines on how to apply.

You can also apply for production funding for your animated feature film – please read our guidelines.

What is the BFI Aardman Development Lab?

“Feature animation is the ideal medium for filmmakers. It allows us to reach the widest possible cinema audience, in terms of age and demographic, without compromising our standards or patronising our viewers. It offers magnificent scope for the fundamental skills of film making. And as film-makers we can win over audiences not only through humour, but also through deep emotion and visceral excitement.” – Peter Lord CBE, Co-founder and Creative Director of Aardman Animations

From Animal Farm and Watership Down, to The Snowman and Arthur Christmas, the UK has a long tradition of producing world class animated films for global family audiences. Perhaps the most notable success story is Aardman Animations, who have produced a number of international hit feature films alongside their award-winning work in television, music videos and commercials, including Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, The Pirates! Band of Misfits and the currently in-production Shaun The Sheep Movie.

An artist works on a storyboard at Aardman

An artist works on a storyboard at Aardman

Developing and producing animated features is a lengthy and expensive process, and opportunities for writers and filmmakers eager to work in animated feature films are relatively scarce. So, as part of its efforts to support development and production of new animated features in the UK, the BFI Film Fund is partnering with Aardman on a new programme aimed at nurturing writers and filmmakers wishing to work in animation. From an open access call, BFI will offer funding for up to two years to three filmmakers or teams (writer, directors, producers) to develop their concepts with dedicated development support from Aardman. Through story, script and visual development, you will develop greenlight-ready and valuable animated film projects.

The BFI Aardman Development Lab is designed to give professional hands-on experience to storytellers who have a passion for animated family films and wish to work in this field at the highest level. Following an initial induction, Aardman will arrange regular meetings or workshops with you, providing support and mentoring throughout the development process, help with developing early character design and visuals and exposure to and education around the animation process in order to help you better realise your project as an animated film.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for the next generation of animated film talent who will truly benefit from the Animation Lab, armed with stories that:

  • are able to engage, inspire and entertain audiences;
  • explore universal themes;
  • are suitable for family audiences and are designed to entertain both adults and children, rather than children’s stories which typically target children exclusively; and
  • demonstrates the filmmakers ambition to dramatise stories on a bigger canvas.

Please carefully read the Guidelines to see if you are eligible to apply.


Please ensure you have read the full information document for the Animation Development Lab before you complete the application form.

Chicken Run (2000)

Chicken Run (2000)

  • Production and development funding

    Production and development funding

    We provide support for the production, development and completion of feature films which fairly reflect people from different backgrounds.

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