Manchester puppet masters help clinch Oscar for Pinocchio

A studio in suburban Greater Manchester can now boast an Oscar after its creations helped clinch best animated feature at this year’s ceremony.

Mackinnon and Saunders, based in Altrincham, created the award winning puppets in Guillermo del Toro’s reimagining of Pinocchio.

The hit Netflix stop-motion animation relied on dozens of characters constructed by the Altrincham studio.

“It means the world to our team”, studio co-founder Peter Saunders said.

Founded 30 years ago, Mackinnon and Saunders have brought to life some of children’s most beloved TV characters including Bob the Builder, Postman Pat and the new Clangers.

The company built a global reputation through collaboration with Hollywood directors Tim Burton on Mars Attacks!, Frankenweenie and Corpse Bride and Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr Fox.

Mr Saunders said creating the models for Pinocchio took 62 people tens of thousands of hours over four years.

The characters are based on illustrations by US artist Gris Grimly, but the film’s final designs were created through many back-and-forth emails between Del Toro and his team, and Mackinnon and Saunders.

“We are thrilled to have played a part in creating such a successful film which has been watched and loved by so many”, Mr Saunders said.

“It means the world to our team to have worked on an Oscar-winning film.”

Mr Saunders watched the ceremony, which ran into the early hours, with his family.

He said: “My wife and I were over at our daughter’s house and my son came along, so it was lovely to be with the family to watch.

“We had some champagne there and then me and my wife went home and had some more champagne. I woke up with a slight hangover today.”

He added: “We’ve had a lot of emails and calls from people that we’ve known for years. I don’t think Guillermo has been in touch yet, but he’s a really lovely guy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.”

Asked if the firm would be given a famous golden statuette, Mr Saunders joked: “I suspect we’ll have to make our own, not out of pure gold mind you, maybe out of brass with gold plate.”

Mr Saunders said the firm was currently working on a number of children’s TV shows. Asked whether anymore films were in the pipeline, he said: “Who knows what the future may bring.”

The studio boss also praised partners in the North West, such as business advisers Made Smarter, who made the Oscar possible.


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