When most people think of animation and VFX they don’t think of Stoke-on-Trent. I say that as company director of an animation and VFX studio in Stoke, It’s something that we’ve worked hard to change, but these things don’t happen overnight.
In its prime Stoke-on-Trent was a bustling city, home to many coal mines and the world’s leading pottery creators. Stoke produce was sent all over the world. Famous brands like Spode, Wedgwood and Churchill had hundreds of employees. Life was good for both individuals and businesses. Then globalisation happened, a city that was once busy providing the world with pottery and coal had nothing to offer, it had lost its purpose. In recent years Stoke has pushed forward, trying to build a city that works for the digital future. However with funding cuts, low aspirations and a lack of direction it has struggled to make that change.
The recent 2021 City of Culture bid brought some life back into the city. Creativity has gained a real momentum and there is once again an excitement and drive for improvement.
From working with ACCESS:VFX I knew Stoke would jump at the chance to have industry leaders visit our humble home. It provided an opportunity for residents of any age to learn more about working in the intriguing business of TV and film.
During the event we reached a wide audience, having 230 students attend from 5 schools and 2 colleges. The overriding comment echoed by both teachers and students was how much it meant to them that ACCESS:VFX had come to visit. Stoke-on-Trent is a city that’s used to being ignored so it made the students feel great that they were taken seriously.
The schools that attended were; The Co-operative Academy, Moorside High School, St Peters Academy, Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy as well as Newcastle & Stafford College and Stoke Sixth Form College. The event was made possible by funding from Overclockers and AMD.
There was also an evening event aimed at parents, teachers and hobbyists interested in the industry, potential opportunities and the future of film. Engaging and informative presentations were made by Amy Smith from Framestore and Azhul Mohamed from ILM.
We really look forward to having ACCESS:VFX return to Stoke in October as part of their VFX inclusion month.