Now in their mid 20s, brothers Matt and Paul Layzell studied at Kingston and Brighton respectively. Sharp-eyed CR blog readers (with good memories) may recall we picked out Paul’s work when we did a round up of our favourite work in the Brighton illustration degree show in the summer of 2011. More recently the colourful brand of animated, character-based comedy they seem to be specialising in has also appeared on our blog, invariably making us gather around. Only a few years out of college, the pair (who are represented by Blinkink) have some great work under their belts including a music video, some eye-popping E4 stings, two short self-initiated animations, and also another music video of sorts commissioned by comedian Adam Buxton for his Sky Atlantic TV show, Bug.
“It was as as simple as Adam saying to us ‘here’s a song, I want a video for it’,” says Paul of the Buxton commission. “He’d got the rights to a Tiny Tim song, recorded it and kind of put it on us,” he continues. The video, set to Tiny Tim classic Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight, begins with a live action Buxton depicted as a down and out animator. One puff on a magic pipe and his dreary existence is left behind for a cartoon wonderland. “He was super helpful and a lot of his performance was improvised so there was lots of input from him and, of course, it was great that he trusted us on the animation side,” Paul says of the project. The brothers called in one of Paul’s old illustration tutors, Jim Stoten, to work on the film too. “The direction we wanted to take the video made us think of Jim for his visual style and sense of humour,” explains Paul. “He agreed to help out and by this stage we had already mapped out what was happening in the video but had room to develop characters further and this is where Jim came in.” Stoten’s contributions include a bull made of meat (shown below) and a character with the intriguing named of Pretty Lady With Angry Bum.
Paul, the younger of the two brothers by a couple of years, first realised he’d like to work with his brother when visiting him at Kingston. “I remember thinking that what he was doing was pretty much what I wanted to do too,” he recalls. Matt was part of a collective of animators called Treat (Julia Pott, featured, was also a member) and Paul started to help out on various Treat projects including a video for Crystal Antlers track Two Way Mirror. It was Paul who introduced Treat to the band Mazes who were putting out records on a label run by a friend of his in Brighton. Although they were still part of the Treat collective, the video to the band’s track Most Days would be the Layzell Brothers’ first project as co-directors.
It was also Paul that introduced Treat to production company Blink. “David Wilson, who’s a director at Blink, gave a talk at Brighton when I was in my final year,” recalls Paul. “Matt and I were working on the Mazes video at the time. I showed Wilson the animatic of how it was shaping up and he really liked it. He was really encouraging and said that when we finished it we should send it to him so he could show other people at Blinkink.”
The production company signed Treat but the collective disbanded shortly after.However, they kept on Paul and Matt as a directorial duo. “Blinkink are good because they’re always excited to see new or different things and they genuinely want us to do what we want to do,” says Paul. “When we’ve said that advertising isn’t something we particularly want to get into, they’ve been supportive of that and keep an ear out for other projects that might suit us.”
Currently the pair are busy working on a short film for a new late night cartoon slot on Fox which, they say, will be in a similar vein to the two recent short self-initiated pieces, Chicks With Cheeks and Last Of Our Kind. “We actually pitched a series to them,” reveals Matt, “but they want to work out how it could work with us being based in the UK and them in LA, so we’re working on this short to see how it goes.”
E4 Christmas sting
Is the world of TV series and even Hollywood one the Layzell Brothers see themselves in? “We’ve been working on a pilot with the Cartoon Network for quite a long time,” says Matt, “which has taken us out of doing our own stuff, but it’s been really great in terms of writing and storyboarding and practicing things like timing and making things funny. What’s important now is the writing and editing and that’s something we’re getting better at and want to do more of. We’re keen to make more short films and are gunning to get to work on a series.”