FOR animator Gary Myers it started with a 2012 New Year’s resolution to research a family tale about his grandfather Gilbert.
Now the Onchan dad-of-two is putting the finishing touches to the trailer for a film, Gilbert’s War, which grew out of that research.
Gary, 49, explained: ‘This all started with a New Year’s resolution. We have had a story in the family that has been passed down through Gilbert’s daughter, my auntie, and his son, my dad, about how he was rescued in the First World War. It’s a good story and he was very lucky.’
Because the national archives have opened up recently, which has made it easier to research online, Gary decided to look into the history.
It turned out Gary’s grandfather took part in the first ever major British tank battle, in Cambrai, France, in 1917. It was there that he received a serious injury and was rescued from no-man’s land. Gary’s 20 minute animation will follow the dramatic story of that rescue.
‘It was a great story and I wanted to use my animation skills to tell it,’ said Gary, who is Isle of Man Newspapers’ digital producer and has worked in animation at Lough House and Incagold. ‘With the centenary coming up in 2014 there are lots of events happening, and with the film Warhorse and Downton Abbey being so popular it’s in people’s minds. In February I set myself the challenge that I’d get the trailer done for Remembrance Day this year and have the film out in 2014.
‘If I had all the time in the world it would be hand drawn, like old Disney films. I appreciate CGI and it has its place but it can’t beat hand drawn for me. It’s not possible for me to do that, however, because it’s just me on my own. So there will be a lot of CGI in there but I’m trying to give it a realistic style. The human element will be hand drawn by me and that’s great because it keeps the personal investment in it - I’m his grandson and I’m drawing his experiences by hand.’
Through contact with the Tank Museum in Dorset and an ex-tank commander friend, Gary has managed to secure the usage of audio files, including of the kind of tanks used on that day.
‘I’ve tried to be as authentic as I can,’ said Gary, who lives in Bemahague Avenue, Onchan, with wife Anne and children Stuart, 20, and Katy, 17.
The Yorkshire Volunteers Band, the band of Gilbert’s regiment the Leeds Rifles, are also allowing Gary to use their music in the film.
Gary is full of admiration for his grandfather. ‘He died when I was around 10/11. I knew him for a few years and considering what he went through he was always a happy cheerful bloke and lived a long and happy life. It’s only now I’ve researched all this that I know what he went through.’
There is a blog about continuing work on Gilbert’s War at www.gilbertswar.co.uk.
Gary will release the trailer on YouTube and on Vimeo this Sunday, November 11 to co-incide with Armistice Day. Gilbert’s War itself is due for release in 2014.
Gary is a member of MannIn Shorts, a Manx based short film production collective. You can read more about them here: www.manninshorts.com.