The co-founder of Magic Light Pictures has been awarded the OBE for services to animation in the King’s birthday honours announced on Saturday 17th June.
Michael’s long career in the British animation industry began in the 1980s, when he ran the cinemas at the Watershed Media Centre and Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol. There he helped stage the British Animation Festivals of 1987 and 1989, and was deputy chair of the Festival until 1995.
After working at Channel Four Television, Michael joined leading UK studio Aardman Animations in 1994 as head of Development, a key member of the senior management team which grew the studio and built the Wallace and Gromit brand. He jointly produced Nick Park’s Oscar winning Wallace and Gromit film, A Close Shave, along with other shorts and series, winning two BAFTAs. He went on to set up Aardman’s feature film division, securing its multi-picture deal with Dreamworks, and was executive producer of hit animated feature films Chicken Run and the Oscar winning Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit.
In 2003, Michael co-founded Magic Light Pictures with producer Martin Pope and this year, the company is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Together Michael and Martin have built one of the UK’s most successful family entertainment companies with films nominated for four Oscars, and winning three Baftas, three International Emmys, two RTS awards and countless other prizes.
Starting with Oscar nominated The Gruffalo, adapted from the classic book by authors Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Magic Light’s annual animated specials have become a leading feature of Christmas on BBC1, delighting family audiences on BBC and around the world. The company’s other productions include Oscar nominated animated feature film, Chico & Rita; Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and pre-school series hit Pip & Posy. The company has also built the Gruffalo brand with trails, experiences and consumer products.
Michael’s OBE was awarded for services to animation.