My names Duncan Catterall, I’m a filmmaker and animator with over 13 years of experience and head up production company DC Film & Animation Ltd. Whilst I do make animations, commercials and other digital content, a huge part of my life is spent making music videos alongside some amazing crew.
Photo: Jamie Kidd
A bit more about me:
I spent my teens making stop motion animations, playing in bands and organising local gigs. My first music video was actually to promote one of my gigs, and it caused the gig to sell out. I also spent a huge amount of time playing with tech, making robots and games. My earliest animation experiments saw a games engine being used for filmmaking decades before Unreal Engine existed. My ability to leverage technology for new an interesting uses is a trend that continues to this day. When early digital cameras came about I swapped to stop motion, being allowed to skip a whole module at university due to my precocious animation showreel. My final year stop motion animation had vast array of sets and characters, and I started to use VFX in After Effects to extend sets and add other effects. The project got a 1st.
Having made a feature film between university years, I graduated in 2008, thinking I’d be going into a career in movies. I actually had some funding from screen south for a screen play I’d written but in 2010 independent filmmaking lost a lot of it’s funding. On top of this, most films I’d worked on took years to reach a cinema screen and it was hard to show work to potential clients until it was screened. It was around this time I realised I really wanted to make music videos. I could be far more creative and, with social media booming, could reach a far wider audience than I would ever hope to via film festivals. I’d always loved hanging out with musicians, many of my friends were musicians, and it felt like a natural choice.
My early music videos got a surprising amount of interest, back in the day when you could meet bands via myspace or have work on Scuzz or Kerrang. Early videos were mainly for indie bands and hip hop artists, but due to my preferences for a darker film noir style of lighting, I gained an alternative following that has stuck with me since. With limited budgets and a background in stop motion from teenage years, adding VFX work and animation allowed me to do more with less. VFX work in some of my earlier videos became a hallmark of mine and kicked off a parallel career in VFX, motion graphics and animation – eventually working for major names like Bugatti, Cadbury, McLaren and Starbucks.
Around 2011 I was spotted by a film studio in Milton Keynes called Penkat (sadly now closed, but still good friends). This allowed me access to unbelievably high end kit for such a young director, working on a Red One MX for many of my productions whilst this was still a distant dream for many of my contemporaries (many of whom came into the studio to pose next to the camera…) and I was making projects in 4k years before it was mainstream. I directed music videos but also had a chance to work on high spec commercials, corporates and even a horror film. Highlights of the time include putting a set on wheels to create an earthquake scene, chasing an actor with a motor cycle club and filming a martial artist punch through several breeze blocks that were on fire whilst shooting in slow motion. I had a lot of fun.
From 2013 I got the London bug and went off to make commercials and then work in broadcast for a brief stint. Whilst still camera operating, I found my postproduction and After Effects skills in high demand. I got advanced training in advanced After Effects during this period and I continue to be seen as very technically advanced After Effects animator.
I remerged as freelance in 2016 and worked alongside a recording studio for a spell. I’d kept up music videos on the side and met a lot of the artists I’d go on to work with for years during my time in London. In 2017 I qualified as a drone pilot and went to onto retainer with an automotive director in Birmingham, doing drone and VFX work. I had a blast for about two years before the automotive sector slowed down. I went back to music videos, and producing 19 videos in a year, in amongst my other animation and VFX work. In addition to this I got back into character animation in a big way during this period.
Things took a pause as they did for all of us in 2020, I kept busy with animation work when I could and started a charity using technology to fight poverty (Help Close By). The charity taught me a huge amount about leadership and organisation as well how to work across a wide number of organisations and people in way that surpassed what I was used to with films. At the start of 2021 I was given the chance to create an animation pipeline for a series of animated short films for a charity (For Baby’s Sake) that was being produced by Snappin’ Turtle Productions. As well as animating and character rigging, I was technical director for the films and effectively art directed as well. It was huge privilege to work with a great many other talented people, include 3 artists, a sound designer and a whole team of fellow After Effects animators.
I’ve switched from being a one man band, occasionally using freelancers to making sure I’ve got crew, animators and artists on far more productions, allowing DC Film & Animation to be considered a production company and not just the efforts of one person. I work with some extremely talented people, all of whom are an absolute pleasure to work with and I can wait for you to meet them.
On the personal front, I am married with two kids and whilst most of my work happens in London or with clients from London, I live in Birmingham. I have been operating remotely well before the pandemic made it a necessity.
Boring side note about company names and associated brands: