6 Jan 2017

Made in Hull artists: Chris Hees

Meet the producer of Dead Bod and The Heart Of Rugby

Artist Chris Hees creates awe-inspiring, powerful work that truly holds people and place at its centre. Chris, who runs Hull- and London-based production company Bridge Way Films, is one mega Bafta-winning, Oscar-nominated producer with a heap of experience in producing awesome live action and animation short films and microbudget features.

Chris was the main guy who brought the first BFI Film Academy to Hull – with his love for city inspiring him to bridge the gap between film and television in London.

For Made in Hull, Chris has produced Dead Bod with animators Mew Lab Animation – which brings to life the story of the infamous Dead Bod graffiti on show at various locations across the city. Chris also produced The Heart of Rugby – animated by Alex Twiston-Davies in Whitefriargate, inviting you to feel the burning passion of the game. One side red and white, the other black and white, representing Hull KR and Hull FC and their diehard supporters.

Here, Chris tells us more …

What are you best known for?

I am best known for my Bafta-winning, Oscar-nominated short film, The Bigger Picture. I produced the film during my time at the National Film and Television School, and since have begun developing feature films through my company Bridge Way Films. I’ve recently been supported by the BFI via a Vision Award and I plan to use this to bring Hull stories to the screen, one of which is an adaptation of Amy Johnson’s story.

Have you ever been involved in a project like Made In Hull before?

I have produced a number of animation films, but never for a stage such as this. I’ve been so excited to see it live to the public. It’s a little daunting as it’s so different from entertaining cinema goers – you really have to captivate an audience and make them notice when it’s projecting on the streets.

What made you want to get involved with Made In Hull?

I am a huge supporter of UK City of Culture and Hull in general. I’m currently on the board and promote the city where I can. I was thrilled to get involved, I know Sean and knew he would put something thoughtful and provocative together. It’s nice to be actively involved in this cultural resurgence my home city is having!

Can you describe both installations in one sentence?

They have been created to breathe life into two much-loved aspects of Hull – rugby league and the Dead Bod graffiti.

How did the concept develop from the initial brief?

The team approached me with the plan to tell the story of Dead Bod through animation. We all wanted to be as true to the real story as we could so, after a bit of research, the story was finalised and the style itself was always going to reflect the original graffiti.

With the rugby animation the image came first – the beating heart through the two rugby league shirts. The whole piece reflects the idea that no matter what changes through time, the beating heart of the fans will never fail.

What do you hope people will experience through your installations?

There’s a little humour in Dead Bod. I  hope people enjoy it for that as well as for its nostalgic elements!

I think the rugby animation will evoke passion for the supporters, something they can feel proud of. Rugby is a collective experience and hopefully the animations will be experienced in this way too.

Both the pieces I have produced are there for people to enjoy, and hopefully both will ignite fond memories.

The rugby animation can be seen in Whitefriargate and the Dead Bod animation is placed in three of the venues and shown during the down time between the main installation.

How have you used public spaces to help shape or display your work?

Dead Bod moves within the space of the buildings so it is pretty spectacular to see. The Heart Of Rugby is pretty simple really, we’re screening the pieces on widescreen TV and surrounding them with rugby memorabilia to breathe extra life and meaning into them.

What have you most enjoyed about being part of this project?

Working with MewLab and Alex Twiston-Davies has been great. Each of them brought different styles to the table but their ability to evoke emotion is the same. The feeling of excitement and pride when a simple design on paper turns in to moving image will never get old.

Being from Hull yourself, did the project excite you more?

I’m very proud to be from Hull. Entertaining audiences is what I love to do, so that audience being Hull-centric is fantastic.

Being able to showcase my work for the city – a piece of work they can also be proud of

– it just means the world to me.

How have your links with Hull inspired you in your previous work?

There are so many untold stories from Hull, either true stories or stories that are buried within the talent we have here, and it’s my aim as a producer to unearth these and bring them to mass audiences. You are where you come from, so I think it would be near impossible for my work not to always have a little bit of Hull within it.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently producing a Hull KR and Hull FC documentary, as well as developing a few other ideas.

Finally, Hull KR or Hull FC fan?

My dad’s a Hull KR fan and my brother’s a Hull FC fan so there was always a tug of war with regards to where I might align myself – but I’m definitely red and white.



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