Ainslie’s not short on success after scooping Bafta and festival first

Stills of the animation "I Am Tom Moody' by Ainslie Henderson
Stills of the animation "I Am Tom Moody' by Ainslie Henderson

Denholm’s Ainslie Henderson celebrated a double award win at the weekend with two arthouse animated films.

First, he toasted a BAFTA win at the glittering event at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday for his short animation, The Making of Longbird, which Ainslie co-wrote with its director Will Anderson.

Then, mingling with superstars George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, and Daniel Day-Lewis, the pair heard they had also picked up the Audience Award at the Glasgow Short Film Festival for I Am Tom Moody.

Borders-born Ainslie, 33, is no stranger to the spotlight, having performed as a singer-songwriter in 2002 in the first season of Fame Academy (the BBC’s talent show that predated X Factor) which was won by fellow Scot David Sneddon.

Ainslie finished fourth in the show and his debut single Keep Me a Secret – released the following March – reached number five in the UK charts.

The 33-year-old, who grew up in Denholm before moving to Edinburgh eight years ago, has not performed live for years, as his career in animation has taken hold.

His new job as a stop frame animator involves shooting a few seconds of film a day in a tiny darkroom – far removed from singing in front of hundreds or thousands of people.

But Henderson’s gamble, abandoning his pop career for the obscure world of arthouse animated films, has certainly paid off.

The animator picked up the Best Animation prize at the New Talent Awards from Scottish Bafta in Glasgow for his first short animated feature It’s About Spending Time Together.

The Edinburgh College of Art student based it on a voice recording of his earliest childhood memory while growing up in the Borders. The Making of Longbird, billed as a comedy documentary, also won a British Academy Scotland Award in November 2012. The 15-minute feature follows Will, originally from Dingwall in the Highlands, as he struggles to make a movie about Longbird, an animated Russian bird from 1911. The movie – 23-year-old Will’s graduation film from the Edinburgh College of Art – has been shown at 40 events around the world and won 20 prizes at festivals, including those held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stuttgart, Annecy and Brooklyn, New York, before the Bafta accolade.

The film won in the short animation category, along with Here To Fall by Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath, and Eamonn O’Neill’s I’m Fine Thanks being the other nominees.

BAFTA’s voting membership of 6,500 industry professionals votes online in two rounds to decide the Film Awards nominations and the winners.

Ainslie is also enjoying plaudits for his Edinburgh School of Art graduation film, I Am Tom Moody, which the filmmaker describes as a tale of “insecurities and fears and how those insecurities and fears get in the way of doing things you want to do”.

The stop motion animation feature is voiced by The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean star, Mackenzie Crook.

Ainslie and Will met while studying at the Edinburgh College of Art. They now share a studio at Meadowbank in Edinburgh, and both pay homage to the school’s animation department for the success they have enjoyed. They have worked on several short films and projects together in the past few years, and are currently trying to obtain funding to produce another stop motion animation film.

Paul Wheelhouse, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, congratulated the Denholm animator, saying: “It is inspirational for other young people in the Scottish Borders to see one of their own enjoying such fantastic success on a world stage like the Baftas.

“Ainslie’s award shows just what can be achieved if you set your mind to it and don’t give up on following your dreams. I am pleased young people in the Borders can have great role models like Ainslie.”