In 2013, Elliot Dear landed one of the most sought-after jobs in advertising, when he won a pitch to co-direct the John Lewis Christmas ad. The resulting film – a charming stop-motion tale about a bear and a hare – racked up millions of views and prompted a surge in sales of John Lewis alarm clocks. Since then, Dear has directed a wealth of innovative films, from the BBC’s 2017 Christmas ad The Supporting Act, which combined stop-motion and CGI to Emerald Rush, a trippy music video for Jon Hopkins which featured 2D artwork from Robert Hunter. Whether he’s working with paper cut-outs or miniature models, Dear’s work is consistently charming and surprising – combining great storytelling and endearing characters with an innovative use of mixed media.
Dear’s work is driven by a love of traditional animation and old-school VFX. As a child, he remembers poring over a book on the making of Tim Burton’s stop-motion feature film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and being equal parts enthralled and terrified by James Cameron’s Aliens. “All that animatronics and old school special effects stuff I really love, which is why I try and shoot as much as I can for real, and why I like to work with miniatures,” he tells CR.