I never expected to be writing this anniversary blog outside of our studio home, but this is, of course, the case due to the current lockdown.

It very much reminds me of A+C’s beginnings, when I was a sole-trader and the company was based in my dad’s garage! I must say, I miss the hustle and bustle of the studio environment and being able to walk the floors, seeing characters and props come together in the model shop and animation bringing them to life on our stop-motion stages.

In the early days, the studio started out with me as Animation Director, making short stop-motion films which were funded by animation workshops I was running for schools. Our first studio space came in 2009. I opened the doors to a tin shell of a building, an old first-floor unit on an industrial estate in Whitstable. The first crew to join were Jan, our Producer, and Stuart as Animator/Editor, who is still with the company today. I promised them both that I had three months’ savings to run on and if we didn’t win any work in that time then we’d close the doors and go our own ways, but thankfully, eleven years later we are still going strong.

In these challenging times, I’m grateful for all of the hard work the team has put in, particularly over these past twelve months. Working with international brands such as LEGO and TK Maxx has given A+C Studios the financial stability to retain all of our staff during this period and continue with our plans for growth.

I’m extremely proud of the A+C crew in the way they responded to the UK Government’s request for an animation with LEGO Agency, to educate children about staying safe from the Coronavirus at Easter. Creating a stop-motion animation remotely, at our homes across Margate was a challenge I never thought we’d face, but the team spectacularly exceeded expectation and we were able to play our small part for the country in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read a blog about how the team put it together here.

In the last year we’ve seen a 68% growth in production and very recently created a third studio space which is ready to house two additional animation stages when we return. We’ve invested heavily in IT infrastructure and a network storage system which has enabled us to work seamlessly whilst in our respective homes. We also have plans to open a new production office in Margate to further aid increased production capacity at The Old Laundry site along with recruitment plans to help continue the studio’s growth. We’re very interested in local talent here in Margate. Like a creative beacon, more and more people are wanting a better lifestyle and to be based by the sea in this incredible community is very appealing. So if you live in Margate, or are moving to the area and have a track record in production or growing agencies please get in touch at [email protected].

I’d also like to thank all the incredibly talented freelancers we’ve worked with who’ve played such a massive part on our productions and are extended A+C family – the paper engineers, motion-designers, lighting directors, sound designers, production team and many, many more. We love having you all in our studio home and sharing your skills with us and our audiences. I understand times are harder than ever, but I hope you are all keeping well and I look forward to welcoming you all back soon.

So, although thirteen may be unlucky for some, it certainly won’t be for us. Our next year of business will not begin as anyone expected, but we enter into it with excitement, enthusiasm and optimism. Our studio and team will be ready to return to a new world of advertising, with animation offering a safer, more guaranteed option than live-action. We may be starting our next year in lock-down, working from spare rooms and garages, but this is exactly how A+C began and I’m proud to see the current team adapting and adopting the original ethos. I look forward to raising a glass with the A+C team when we can all safely return to our much-loved animation studio.

Dan Richards

Founder, A+C Studios