Oscar Crafts: Animated Shorts Nominee 'Room on the Broom' Mixes CG With Miniature Sets

Room on the Broom Still - H 2014
Magic Light Pictures

Room on the Broom Still - H 2014

Room on the Broom earned an animated short Oscar nomination by combining clever characters and an inventive look with a story based on the popular children's book of the same name, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It also brought together a voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon, Martin Clunes, Simon Pegg, Timothy Spall, David Walliams and Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine).

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Directed by Max Lang (who previously earned an Oscar nomination for 2009 animated short The Gruffalo) and Jan Lachauer, the film has already been honored with a Cristal award for best TV production at the Annecy Int'l Animated Film Festival, a Children's BAFTA, and Annie and British Animation Award nominations.

In the Oscar competition, Room on the Broom is nominated alongside? Feral, a story that explores the topic of abandoned children; Disney's Get a Horse, ?which pays homage to Mickey Mouse and his gang; Mr. Hublot, ?about a man forced to face change; and Possessions, a Japanese short about a man who is lost in the mountains and discovers a small shrine.

Room on the Broom tells the story of a kind witch who invites a collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat. The gang ultimately learns to work together and saves the witch from a dragon.

"I loved the characters and story, but as a filmmaker it is important to find a personal connection," said Lang, who started to make shorts with co-director Lachauer when they were students at Germany's Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg. "I had just become a dad, and my wife and I were adjusting to being parents. I remember so strongly when my brother was born and you love him but know there is going to be some changes. That is what this is about -- a family growing together and changing."

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Said Lachauer: "The characters that joined the family are so different -- the frog, the dog -- and find their place in the group, even though at first glance [the animals are skeptical of each other]."

"You can reshape your world where there is room for everyone; I think that is a beautiful message," Lang added.

On a budget of $2.4 million, the 25-minute short was made with 3D computer animation with some miniature sets at Studio Soi in Ludwigsburg, Germany. "I love that you feel the hand-crafting in the sets; they're not mathematically perfect and this gives it a charm and personality," said Lang. "For some of the trees, they actually used bristles from actual brooms to make tiny twigs; in one scene in a forest, the needles on the ground are spices." Set building supervisors and set dressing credits go to Studio Soi co-founder Klaus Morschheuser with Katja Moll.

Room on the Broom was produced by Magic Light Pictures, the U.K. company behind The Gruffalo and 2012 best animated feature Oscar nominee Chico & Rita. It has already aired on the BBC in the U.K. and in additional markets.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA