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Award-winning Producer/Director Sarah Smith sets up Locksmith Animation with backing from Elisabeth Murdoch and Double Negative

LONDON, March 20, 2014 – Sarah Smith, an award-winning producer, writer and director, and a former Creative Director at Aardman Features, has set up a new animated film company, Locksmith Animation in the UK.

The company is the first dedicated high-end feature animation studio ever created in the UK, and is focussed on creating a long-term slate of CG animated films for the global marketplace.

Locksmith is backed as principle shareholder by Elisabeth Murdoch; leading UK Visual Effects house Double Negative are also investors. Double Negative will work closely with Locksmith as they build an animation pipeline in which Locksmith plans to make its films.

Smith said: “With animated films among the most beloved and successful movies in the world but still only a handful of producers out there, the UK offers Locksmith a unique opportunity, including a world class CG Visual FX industry, brilliant comedy writers & directors, outstanding children’s literature, the European animation talent pool, and government tax credits. We’re very excited that having attracted a visionary investor with global business skills in the shape of Liz Murdoch, and a globally acclaimed production partner in Double Negative, we have everything to make the most ambitious version of our vision achievable.”

The company’s plans also feature an award-winning creative board of animation writers, directors and digital experts, to be announced shortly.
Elisabeth Murdoch, whose investment is in a personal capacity, and involvement in addition to her existing role as Chairman, Shine Group said: “I am very excited about Locksmith Animation and to have the opportunity to support Sarah’s vision for a new global animation studio based in the UK. Sarah and I share similar values; putting artists, writers and the audience at the heart of all of our endeavours and telling stories that delight and inspire families worldwide. We also have complete faith in the ambitions and world class talent of the UK’s creative community. I could not be more delighted to work with such a visionary leader and the outstanding Double Negative.”

Alex Hope said: “We’ve harboured ambitions to expand into feature animation for a long time.

Working with the Locksmith team provides us with a unique opportunity to build our animation division in tandem with the development of Locksmith’s slate. We are thrilled to be partnering with Sarah and Elisabeth Murdoch in this exciting venture”

Smith made her animation debut as director and co-writer of the $100 million 3D BAFTA, Golden Globe and Annie nominated feature Arthur Christmas. She began her creative career with ground- breaking TV series such as The League of Gentlemen and several Armando Iannucci titles including Friday Night Armistice. In 2006 she was recruited by Aardman Animations to build a new slate of films, that earned the company a three year studio deal with Sony Pictures.

Double Negative, founded in 1998, is Europe’s largest providers of visual effects for film and has become one of the industry’s most respected VFX houses. Over the past 12 months, Double Negative’s completed works include The Dark Knight Rises, Bourne Legacy, Skyfall, Les Miserables, Fast & Furious 6, Captain Phillips, Rush, Man of Steel, The World’s End, The Hunger Games 1 – 3, Thor: The Dark World, Transcendence, Godzilla, Exodus, and Insterstellar. The backing for Locksmith is the first time Double Negative’s owners have decided to make an investment in another company.

Elisabeth Murdoch is the Chairman of Shine Group. Founded in 2001, Murdoch has steered its growth from single multi-genre independent to an international television production and distribution group comprised of 26 production companies across 11 countries.