KU puppet master brings Mr Fox to life

Kingston graduate, Andy Gent, is pulling the strings on a cast of over 500 and his work will be seen by millions, but he is the only human involved.

Andy, who has been nicknamed Geppetto after the creator of Pinocchio, has established quite the career since leaving KU. He has worked as a puppet maker for the tog dogs of the silver screen, including Disney, Warner Brothers and Aardman Animations.

He is now head of puppets on the latest children’s classic, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.

“I left Kingston on the Friday and by the Monday morning I was starting work at Puppetoon Studios in London as a runner. By the end of the week I was animating background characters,” said Andy.

Fantastic Mr Fox, and his woodland cronies were created using stop-motion, a process that has only just started to be used to its full potential, according to Andy.

“Some people say stop-motion is having a renaissance, but I say it never really had its peak.” he said.
“We only now understand what it can do and that’s why it’s finding its feet.”

Andy and his team of master puppeteers created 17 different versions of Mr Fox, all of which were created in six different sizes and with 18 different assorted costumes.

By the end of the production Andy’s team had created a cast of 535 puppets.

“We even had to fashion tiny knitting needles so we could make the clothes fit our pint-sized characters – but that’s the amount of detail you have to be prepared to work at this level,” he said.

Principal lecturer, Jake Abrams, remembers how his former illustration and graphic design student showed great potential even in the early days of his degree.

“Andy came up with some outstanding ideas while he was studying at Kingston, showing great promise and, like a lot of our graduates, has gone on to make a big impression on the industry,” he said.
“He’s a true inspiration to our students about what they can achieve.”

Andy’s next big job will be working with the legendary director Tim Burton on a remake of the 1984 film Frankenweenie, due to be released in 2011.

Andy also worked with Burton as the lead model ringer on Corpse Bride and was the head of puppets at 20th Century Fox.

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