Creator of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, And The Horse Looks Back Fondly On Animation Process

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The author behind the beloved book expressed joy in animation and hopes for a potential sequel or return.


When the Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Short were announced, many were delighted to see the AppleTV+ original, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, in the running. The soft-spoken little short about the titular characters making a journey together warmed the hearts of millions upon its release. The short was based on an illustrated book by Charlie Mackesy, who spoke with Variety about the joy behind creating the short and the potential of seeing the characters again.

“I would love to. I had to do some drawings on [auction house] Sotheby’s walls the other day, which is really flattering and fun and all that, but I remember thinking to myself when I was doing them, “They’re not moving,” you know? Like, these are static and I want them to move again and I want to hear them again. I want to feel them alive. I want music. It feels almost like once you’ve eaten that apple, it’s very hard not to go back and have another bite.”

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse started as a series of illustrations on Mackesy’s WhatsApp and Instagram accounts. When the drawings were translated into book form, the result became a smashing success upon its release in 2019. The book ended up topping the bestseller lists both in the United States and in the UK. However, when it came to adapting the book into a film, Mackesy was stepping into entirely new territory.


“I had to learn what the processes were, and I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for all of [the animators], because they were dealing with a child who was basically enthusiastic but clueless about the journey. They had to teach me.”

Mackesy is credited as both co-director (with Peter Baynton), co-writer (with Jon Croker), and an artist on the crew. Among the producers were J.J. Abrams, Matthew Freud, Woody Harrelson, Jony Ive, and Cara Speller. Mackesy gave a few details on his contributions to the production.

“… So the first thing [producer Cara Speller] threw at me was, “Can you just do rough drawings, pre-storyboard rough drawings, of what you think the film will be.” [Matthew Freud, another producer] actually sent me on Amazon little white postcards and I did 300-400 drawings, I pinned them all to two enormous great boards, and scanned them all and sent them so we had a semblance of a structure. And I didn’t know what my role was beyond that.”

The Importance Of Just Being Here


The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse was produced by Apple Studios, Bad Robot Productions, and NoneMore Productions. The short film stars Jude Coward Nicoll as The Boy, Tom Hollander as The Mole, Idris Elba as The Fox, and Gabriel Byrne as The Horse. Along with the Academy Award nomination, the film has also been nominated for Best British Short Animation at the British Academy Film Awards and several Annie Awards. But, as exciting as it all is, Mackesy is still keeping their head clear and out of the clouds.

“A lot of people, they assume certain things, but the reality is you can’t assume anything. My expectations are low. I think you try your best to make the best thing you can. And I think also, you know, my focus has always been on the response from people on the grassroots level. So I read a lot of emails and get letters and things and I find that very moving.”

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse is streaming on AppleTV+.

You can view the original article HERE.

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