Islington film company makes The Snowman sequel

The Snowman and The Snowdog will air on Christmas Eve

Since it first hit our screens in 1982, The Snowman has established itself as a firm fixture in many a family Christmas.

Now history is about to be made with the airing of a sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog – and this new �2million 24-minute film was made in Islington.

For 12 months, dozens of crew members worked out of Lupus Films’ office in Upper Street to make a worthy follow-up to the Raymond Briggs classic.

And, in a triumph of craft over CGI (computer generated images), The Snowman and The Snowdog’s 17,000-plus frames – 12 drawings per second – are almost entirely hand-drawn and coloured, with the artists getting through around 200,000 sheets of paper and 5,000 pencils.

The Snowman and The Snowdog is being screened on Christmas Eve on Channel 4 – marking the 30th anniversary of both the original film and the channel that has aired it every year since 1982.

Written by director Hilary Audus and art director Joanna Harrison – who both worked on the original – the sequel tells the story of a young boy who moves into the house once inhabited by the boy in the original Snowman film.

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The new boy discovers a hidden box with a scarf, some coals and a withered tangerine – and realises it is a snowman-making kit.

So he heads outside and builds a snowman – and, perhaps because his own pet dog has just died – a snowdog.

That night, his creations come to life and a magical North Pole adventure ensues.

Camilla Deakin has produced the new film with Rachel Fielding, her co-owner of Lupus Films, and the late John Coates – who produced the original Snowman film and whose company Snowman Enterprises owned the film rights.

Ms Deakin said: “We asked John whether he had thought about doing a 30th-anniversary sequel. Funnily enough, he had been thinking about it.

“So we hatched a plan to pitch it and Jay Hunt (Channel 4’s chief creative officer) thought it was an excellent idea.

“Raymond Briggs originally felt that the snowman had melted so it couldn’t be done. But in the digital remastering for the 20th anniversary of The Snowman, John Coates had put snow falling over the credits – so that left the door open for a sequel.

“Raymond got to the point where he was thinking, ‘I don’t know why I am objecting any more. It’s a much-loved character. Why can’t we give people a bit more time with him?’

Mr Briggs, now 78, has lauded the new film as terrific. Mr Coates, who died in September, had seen substantial sections of it before his death from cancer aged 84 – and was very pleased.

Lupus Films, which has made programmes such as The Pinky and Perky Show for CBBC and The Hive for Disney Junior during its 11-year-history, moved specifically from Soho to larger offices in Islington to enable the making of The Snowman and The Snowdog – its most prestigious production to date.

Ms Deakin said: “It was our biggest budget per minute of animation, our biggest team working in-house and the biggest film in terms of reputation.”

But despite the fact that hand-drawing the film was a massive undertaking, Lupus Films never considered going down the route of CGI.

Ms Deakin said: “CGI would never have looked right. The aim was to take inspiration from Raymond Briggs’ animations.

“It was definitely worth it. It’s absolutely beautiful. There is something very engaging in human animation.

“I think we are spearheading a revival for hand-drawing. Craft and home-made things that are honest and human are valued now.”

Lupus Films is now hoping that The Snowman and The Snowdog will open the door to yet more prestigious productions.

Ms Deakin said: “The Snowman is a huge phenomenon. Generations of people have grown up with it. To see this huge snowball of interest – excuse the pun – is amazing. Hopefully once the dust has settled, we will get lots of juicy commissions.”

* The Snowman and The Snowdog is airing at 8pm on Christmas Eve on Channel 4.