A rescue dog from Battersea Dogs’ Home has inspired a cartoon character children are set to fall in love with this Christmas.
Claydons resident Hilary Audus is the director and co-writer of the animated film families have been waiting 30 years for.
The Snowman And The Snowdog is a sequel to Raymond Briggs’ Christmas classic, The Snowman.
And the loveable Snowdog was inspired by Ms Audus’ own three-year-old pooch,
In the film, a boy builds a Snowman and a Snowdog, which magically come to life, and the boy joins them on an amazing adventure.
Ms Audus and art director Joanna Harrison, who worked together on the original Snowman film 30 years ago, reunited to work on the sequel – with approval from the great man himself.
Ms Audus told the Advertiser: “Because we knew Raymond and he trusted us, he gave his blessing to us writing the new story.
“Raymond has to give approval on everything, so at every stage he was in on it.
“He’s an absolute sweetie. He likes to have this grumpy exterior and you have to realise he doesn’t mean it. He’s always been really, really lovely to work with. He’s always so complimentary.”
The story starts sadly, with the death of a dog.
Ms Audus said: “I lost my previous dog about a year before, so that was pretty raw. Raymond is very much into death and life and loss.
“The idea that at the beginning the boy loses a dog is a very Raymond idea.
“When we showed the storyboard to people, we had grown men in tears.”
The magical Snowdog is based on Byron, her collie.
“He doesn’t physically look like the Snowdog but he’s got his personality,” said Ms Audus.
“The Snowdog is very sweet, very loving, very sensitive, a bit of a wimp at times – which this one is.”
The £2 million budget film has been made during the past year, in an animation studio in Islington, using almost entirely traditional hand-drawn animation.
Ms Audus said: “You couldn’t do it with CGI.
“When we started, various animation studios said we were crazy. But if you try and do it with a computer program, a computer program hasn’t got that soul about it. Every drawing was coloured in by hand.”
The bill for pencils alone was £14,000.
“We haven’t had a single person not like it so far,” said Ms Audus.
“Everybody’s loved it.
“It stands in its own right as beautiful film but it complements the first one.”
The first showing of The Snowman And The Snowdog is at 8pm on Christmas Eve on Channel 4.