Two animation graduates from UCA have been nominated for the British Animation Awards 2024 – one having only won a BAFTA two weeks ago.

Ross Stringer and Leto Meade, who graduated from UCA Farnham in 2020 and 2019 were nominated in the Best Postgraduate Film category alongside just two other nominees.

Fresh off a BAFTA win, the latest nomination is further recognition for Ross’s Crab Day, commended for its stripped-back aesthetics and story with heart.

It is the story of a young boy who must kill his crab as part of a community ritual to get his father’s approval. It was inspired by Ross' hometown of Great Yarmouth, with its fishing heritage.

“It’s about becoming a man on your own terms,” Ross explained. “With themes of masculinity, community, and accepting difference.”

Ross Stringer introduces a screening of his BAFTA-winning animation Crab Day at UCA Farnham
Ross Stringer introduces a screening of his BAFTA-winning animation Crab Day at UCA Farnham (UCA)

Meanwhile it’s the first nomination for Leto’s Death of the Gods, whose inspiration for the story came from musings and experiences from childhood.

“The film is about growing up and realising that your parents aren't as powerful and superhero-like as you think they are,” explained Leto.

“From being these unmovable giant figures in our minds that can move mountains and do anything, to realise they are just normal people.

“I wanted to create a piece that hugs the vulnerable person behind our idea of them.”

Set building on a budget brought the biggest challenges to Leto and his team, and they had to come up with some creative solutions such as melting and layering up the unscented component of soap to create a liquid effect for the final scene.

The story and characters are crucial in Leto’s animations, which he put down to his background in local theatre, in fact, the two films he made at UCA were monologues.

Behind the scenes of UCA Farnham graduate Leto Meade's Death of the Gods
Behind the scenes of UCA Farnham graduate Leto Meade's Death of the Gods (Leto Meade)

But Leto is happy for audiences to interpret their own telling of his experience and hopes they can relate to the feelings the film evokes.

Leto said: “My favourite screenings of the film have been to younger audiences. I find it very inspiring that they understand the more abstract parts of it. And in a way, I guess, I want them to know that although the transition of realising your parents aren’t perfect is hard, it’s great finally seeing each other.”

Leto gushes about his formative time at UCA, having said that it was, the only university that spoke to what he wanted to do – making films, and a lot of what he knows is traced back to tutorials with the animation academics.

However, talking about the film industry, Leto said, “it can feel tiring to break into,” so he offers some sage advice to aspiring-animators.

“There might be periods of having to take up other work, but the important thing is to stick with it, keep applying and don’t take any failure to heart, just keep going. Next, collaborate as much as possible and take advantage of being surrounded by other creatives. These are often the people who will get you jobs in the future. Finally, don’t put all your hopes into working at one of the big studios. Just trust the process and say yes to things!”

The winners of the BAA 2024 will be announced at a ceremony at the BFI in London on March 7.

By Michelle Monaghan