The wonderful work of Elliot Dear

Elliot Dear has created brilliantly crafted ads and music videos for Jon Hopkins, John Lewis and the BBC. We talk to the director about his route into filmmaking, coming up with ideas and creating animated worlds

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.