The Tate Movie Project’s The Itch of the Golden Nit premieres today [Wednesday 29 June] in Leicester Square. The film is the first of its kind – an animation made by and for children. Thousands of drawings, sound effects and story ideas by children from across the UK make up the action-packed, half hour animation as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Catherine Tate and Rik Mayall lead the stellar cast providing the voices for the children’s characters from Evil Stella to Captain Iron Ears. Funded by Legacy Trust UK and BP, with additional support and resources from the BBC, the film has been brought together by Tate and the creative magic of Aardman Animations.
The Itch of the Golden Nit follows 11 year old hero Beanie on his mission to save his parents from Evil Stella and to return the Golden Nit to its rightful place at the heart of the sun, thereby saving the universe. It’s a surreal and spectacular adventure that only the wild imaginations of kids could dream up!
The thirteen children who drew the lead characters will attend the premiere along with children from London schools who took part in the Tate Movie workshops, actors who voiced the characters and other famous names with their families. The vivid imaginations of the children who drew the lead characters really helped to propel the story to another level. 13 year old Sarah from Swansea’s inspiration for the Golden Nit was her cat which has fleas - she drew her cat’s tail on the nit. And the two contributors who drew Mum and Dad (Fiona and Emma) come from the same family of 6 children in Bristol. They are obsessed with the website, having submitted over 200 drawings between them and their brother Tristan, who also has a cameo character in the film.
The film will be broadcast on BBC2 at 09:00 on Saturday 2 July followed immediately at 09:30 by ‘How we Itched the Golden Nit’ a ‘Making of…’ special from Blue Peter. It will also be shown at regional galleries over the summer and at a special BP supported London 2012 Open Weekend event on Saturday 23 July in Trafalgar Square. The film will also be screened on London 2012 Live Sites (big screens) in cities across the UK as part of London 2012 Open Weekend. The public will also be able to see the film at Camp Bestival in July and at Vue cinemas nationwide over the August Bank Holiday. An exhibition about the project with free screenings of the film opens at Tate Modern on 6 July and runs until the end of August.
The stellar cast has provided the voices for the lead characters chosen from the many drawings submitted by children aged 5-13, the result of over 250 workshops and tens of thousands of individual uploads to the Tate Movie Project’s online movie studio. The online studio has had more than 500,000 hits since it went live last July and a touring Movie Studio spent months on the road visiting galleries, schools and festivals across the country encouraging children to use art as inspiration for their drawings and story ideas. Children did everything from inventing brand new superhero gadgets to spending a whole afternoon drawing planks for the pirate ship.
The project is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and has been made possible through £3million of funding from Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to create a cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. BP, as one of the Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad, is providing further substantial funding and is helping to evaluate the process to further inform Tate’s future youth projects. BP is also making possible the screenings and workshops at Trafalgar Square on 23 July. As well as broadcast support through CBBC and the entire project being recorded by Blue Peter, BBC Learning has produced fun, accessible resources for kids and teachers alike.
The cream of British comedy has provided additional voices for the film including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ralf Little, Miriam Margolyes, Lucy Montgomery, Vic Reeves and Alexei Sayle. Two children provide the voices of Beanie - Bobby Fuller, known for his role of Jake on CBBC’s Sadie J - and his older sister Beryl - Rachel Rawlinson.
Tate asked children to vote online for which celebrities they would like to see play cameo roles of pirates, superheroes, mermaids and planets in the final feature. The website (www.tatemovie.co.uk) was inundated with suggestions and the film contains cameos by David Tennant, Jane Horrocks, David Hockney, Stacey Solomon, Pixie Lott, Zane Lowe, Matt Baker, Joe Swash Craig Revel-Horwood, Dick and Dom and more.
Multiple drawings are composited to make a single scene, for example each element of a high street from the shop windows to the cars driving by. The final film includes several thousand different drawings, sounds effects and story ideas by the children. The vast bank of material has been brought together by Tate, Aardman and Fallon in the most impressive way possible using the latest animation technology. Music is by composer John Browne who has been working with young British musicians including the National Youth Orchestra, West Everton Children’s Orchestra, Folkestra and The Young‘uns.
11 year old Beanie’s bland life changes forever when Evil Stella and her flaming side-kick Fireboy show up in his back garden one day after school. Evil Stella is after The Golden Nit and kidnaps Beanie’s Mum and Dad thinking they have it. But this is no ordinary nit. The Golden Nit is the battery that powers the sun and if Beanie doesn’t get it home by sunset the sun will die and the universe is doomed. Aided by his shouty older sister Beryl, who has been shrunk to the size of a doll by one of Stella’s electric bubbles, Beanie sets out on a crazy adventure to rescue his parents and save the universe. Armed only with a tube of lazer lip gloss and some blend-in pants, their quest takes them across galaxies via a superhero supermarket, through wormholes, and up the Hairy Scary River escaping from moody mermaids and gold-thirsty pirates along the way. Beanie is helped, and hindered, by Ten Heart Hero who isn’t quite the hero Beanie first thinks he is. When it comes down to it – there really is only one hero who can save the day!
The lead characters
The Golden Nit – David Walliams
Mum (Julie) – Miranda Hart
Dad (Bill) – Harry Enfield
Evil Stella – Catherine Tate
Mummy Socks – Miriam Margolyes
Captain Iron Ears – Vic Reeves
Narrator/President Pinky – Rik Mayall
Ten Heart Hero – Sanjeev Bhaskar
Fireboy – Ralf Little
Planet Jimmy – Alexei Sayle
Stressed Alice – Lucy Montgomery
Beanie – Bobby Fuller
Beryl – Rachel Rawlinson
The film recently won Best Content Partnership Award at the Broadcast Digital Awards.
“Children have always enjoyed exploring Tate’s Collection and finding inspiration to fuel their own creativity. Drawing on some of the world’s greatest art works, the Tate Movie Project has allowed them to express their ideas and vision on the scale of a wide screen. What’s exciting about the Tate Movie Project is that we can see their flashes of imagination come to life in animation. Only children would have the faith to send a ‘golden nit’ on an adventure to save the planet. This project has provoked some astonishing work by children of all backgrounds, some of whom may well be the artists and creatives of the future.” Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate
“I am delighted that less than 18 months after we announced our funding for the Tate Movie, the project has successfully worked with so many children up and down the UK to produce an inspiring and exciting film, with an incredible cast to match. As with all our projects, the Tate Movie plays an important role in creating a cultural legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK, and clearly demonstrates that the Games are about much more than just sport. The thousands of children who have been involved in this project will know that their artwork has been part of a ground-breaking film which will live on long after the Games have ended.” Dugald Mackie, Chair of Legacy Trust UK
“BP has a long history with arts and culture in the UK and over the last year excited to have been involved in the Tate Movie Project. The creativity of thousands of children across the UK has been unlocked in the making of this film, the first of its kind. We congratulate everyone who contributed to the success of this remarkable project.” Peter Mather, Regional Vice President, Europe & Head of Country, UK
“The Tate Movie Project has given thousands of children across the UK the opportunity to bring their creativity and imagination to life. At CBBC we aim to produce entertaining and engaging programmes for children, which is exactly what this project is about and I am thrilled that we have been able to support it.” Damian Kavanagh, Controller of CBBC
“The success of The Tate Movie Project is phenomenal; thousands of young people across the UK have been developing skills through animation workshops and digitally through the website. The announcement today of this wonderful cast and story is thrilling – congratulations to everyone.” Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad.