Camilla Deakin, 46, is joint managing director of animation company Lupus Films, currently working on the sequel to The Snowman. She lives in Crouch End with her husband Gary, a film lighting technician, and their two sons Stanley, 12, and Billy, 9
Illustration: Montana Forbes
"Mornings are a rush. I wake the children up at 7am, get them dressed and fed and make sure they’ve got everything for school. I’m constantly checking they’ve got their homework, PE kits, packed lunches and musical instruments, before Stanley takes himself to school and I sit down with Billy for a bowl of porridge with fruit.
I sometimes ride my Vespa into the office in London’s Islington, which means Converse and jeans are a wardrobe staple (I almost never wear skirts), but now I sometimes drop Billy off at his primary school en route, so I’ll take the train. I’ve yet to find a helmet small enough so he can sit on the back of the scooter!
My friend Ruth and I set up Lupus Films back in 2002. Before that, we both worked at Channel 4 where we were part of the commissioning team for animations. At the moment we are working on the sequel to Raymond Briggs’ iconic The Snowman and I’ve taken on the role of producer. This means that I oversee the general production of the film – dealing with financiers, making sure all the illustrations are produced on time and everything runs smoothly. I was still at school when the first Snowman came out, and I remember watching it with my family. My mum used to have a cassette tape of Walking In The Air which she’d always play in the car at Christmas time.
I arrive at the office, which has had a festive feel to it all year, at 9.30am. We’ve had over 90 people working on the film so we’ll always have a production meeting first thing with all the heads of department, including the director, to discuss any issues.
We’re quite traditional in our approach to animation. We have a team of about 30 sitting in our upstairs office working with just coloured pencils and paper. We worked out that over the course of production, we’re going to be using 200,000 sheets of paper and 5,000 pencils. And over the year we’ve been working on the project, we have produced 24 minutes of film (that’s 17,000 hand-drawn frames). It’s wonderful because I was obsessed with my set of Caran d’Ache coloured pencils when I was younger; I had every colour of the rainbow. Now, my workplace is filled with all these pencils in beautiful colours. If I go upstairs to check on progress, all you can hear is the rustling of paper, the scratching of pencils and the occasional little whirr of the electric pencil sharpener. It’s all very quiet, and very calm. Most of the time.
I’ll spend most of my morning in meetings. These can include anything from chatting with the line producer and production coordinator to meeting a new member of staff or visiting our composer’s studio.
For lunch I’ll sometimes take my team out to a French brasserie called Côte in Islington, but more often than not, I’m rushed off my feet so I’ll grab some sushi and eat it at my desk. Half of what I do is incredibly creative; seeing all those drawings being made is exciting, but all these pieces of paper have to be logged, tracked and worked through the system – so I tend to spend a lot of the afternoon immersed in paperwork.
Sometimes, I visit Raymond [Briggs] at his house in Sussex to discuss progress. He’s got a great sense of humour and his house is amazing, filled with beautiful drawings, illustrations and fun things that his cartoonist friends have sent to him. He’s also got the most ridiculous merchandise based on his characters, like a Fungus The Bogeyman toilet seat cover, and Snowman-themed sushi sets. He always sends us funny letters and cards around Christmas.
If I am in the office I’ll finish work at 6pm and head home. In the evenings, the focus is on the children, so we’ll all eat together, something easy like fajitas, and play a board game before the kids go to bed at 9.30pm. At the moment my husband and I do the crossword and wrap presents – this year I’ll be spending Christmas at home with my family, which is just how I like it – before finally heading to bed about 11pm."
The Snowman And The Snowdog is on Channel 4, 8pm, Christmas Eve