‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse’ And The Team That Brought Charlie Mackesy’s Book To Life – Contenders Film: The Nominees
“I used to lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling and see snowfall and imagine the characters in the book moving. It was a dream of mine to take them further than the static book drawings,” said writer-director Charlie Mackesy during a panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film: The Nominees to discuss The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.
Based on his 2019 illustrated book, Mackesy’s animated short from Apple Original Films that’s nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar, follows a boy searching for a home. Along the way, he meets three animals who are also looking for a place to belong and begin to develop a bond. The short is directed by Mackesy and Peter Baynton, with the voice talents of Jude Coward Nicoll, Gabriel Byrne, Idris Elba and Tom Hollander.
RELATED: Contenders Film: The Nominees – Deadline’s Full Coverage
The book became a hit, which Mackesy said shocked him. “When the book came out, I got so many emails, like thousands of emails, telling me how the book had moved them or helped them, particularly in the pandemic,” he said. “I felt like if the book had done that, could a film reach people in the same way?”
After reading Mackesy’s book in 2019, producer Cara Speller said she “completely fell in love with it and got in touch with Charlie and his partner, Matthew Freud, and talked to them about what we could potentially do in turning it into a short film.” After a discussion with the creators, Speller contacted Baynton, who was ready to join as director.
After a few conversations, Baynton was all in — though he said it is always a risky move to adapt a book.
“The thing about a book, and Charlie’s book is no exception, is that there’s so much left to the imagination of the reader… By making a film, we brought a whole load of definition to Charlie’s world,” he said.
Still, Baynton said he was excited to join the “amazing phenomenon that happened” and see such a positive audience response.
Check out the panel video above.