Drawn to the screen

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A creative storyboard designer is one step closer to reaching his dreams after winning a national competition.

Michael Tharme, 27, from Chorley, has wanted to enter the exciting world of animation for as long as he can remember.

Now, it seems it is well within his reach, after he won Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook Animation Competition.

As part of the competition, Michael, who studied animation at UCLan, had to design a storyboard that had a theme of monsters, or ‘creatures’ as Ray Harryhausen liked them to be referred as, on pre-made blank storyboards.

And out of 53 entries, it was his Wildlife on Mars story that caught the attention of the judges – Robert Rider, head of cinema at the Barbican, Helen Nabarro, head of animation directing at the National Film and Television School, Jodie Mullish, head of marketing at Aurum Press, and Tony Dalton, co-writer of Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook and curator of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation.

Along with two runners-up, Michael was presented with a variety of prizes, including meeting Jason and the Argonauts creator Ray, who is one of his idols, at his London home.

He also got presented with signed copies of Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook, The Art of Ray Harryhausen, and A Century of Model Animation, as well as a tour and meeting with department leaders of animation at the National School of Film and Television.

Thrilled with his success, Michael said: “Ray told me that he really liked my design, and that he would like to see it done.

“My work reflects back on Ray’s work, as the story is told through body language and emotions in the face – the animals don’t speak. It is something that I have wanted to do for quite a long time.

“I used to make creatures out of Plasticine and Lego when I was small, but I didn’t do anything with them.

“Now, this isn’t just a hobby, this is something I would like to do as a career.

“I would love to put Chorley on the map.”

Having won the competition, Michael has now transformed one of his creature drawings into an aluminium wire model, which he will now use to create test footage of up to one minute.

He said that this experience is by far the “biggest thing to date” in his animation career, and hopes that it will now lead on to even more exciting ventures.

To follow Michael’s journey, go to www.facebook.com/pages/3-Arm-Creations, or www.twitter.com/MikeTharme.