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A new way to produce animated movies

With Hollywood studio budgets of animated features now reaching over $100 million, surely a hobbyist making a near studio quality animated full-length film for almost nothing must be a work of fiction in itself?

Actually.. no!

By using inexpensive software and assets I believe I have demonstrated how a little passion and the latest technology can mimic studio production values.

Written with my long-term comedy collaborator Simon Hopkins, I hope “Beware The Eye Of Amun-Ra” will enthrall, entertain and above all, encourage.

Seven years in the making, “Beware the Eye of Amun-Ra” was released in October 2018

Click below to watch the trailer….

Film Synopsis

Film Synopsis

The usually office-bound Colonel Emmerson has seized the chance to visit Egypt to publicly open a new British system designed to secure the ‘Eye Of Amun-Ra’, a precious diamond with a powerful allure. However, he is dismayed by the appointment of a chaperone, MI6 agent Eddie Barton, clearly there to dampen his weekend away. He is further annoyed that the diamond is promptly discovered stolen and that he is cajoled into solving the crime with Eddie, partly to restore British reputation but principally that he keeps his job.

But their investigation soon reveals that the diamond is no ordinary gem. Its disturbance has triggered a deadly curse raising the ancient spirit of the Pharaoh Nefahotep. His mummified body escapes from the museum seeking deathly revenge on seven unfortunate souls.

Meanwhile, the criminal underworld is buzzing with double-crosses, lies and greed as the prized jewel is passed around the city. As the web of deceit tightens and supernatural deaths increase, can our heroes find the diamond and could even their own fate be entwined with its mysterious curse. Which leaves the tantalising question… who reallyshould Beware the Eye of Amun-Ra?


The story of Beware the Eye of Amun-Ra

In the summer of 2010 I discovered a piece of animation software called Muvizu. I’d not done any computer animation previously however I had done some stop motion stuff in the early 90s.

Muvizu was fun and, as a surprise for my long term comedy co-writer (Simon Hopkins), I decided to animate an audio play we made way back in the 80’s. The film “Beware the Pie” was released at the end of 2010.


Although a bit rough round the edges and limited by the features of the beta version software it demonstrated what was possible and got me thinking…

We had written a follow up to “Pie” in 1988, again purely as an audio play. “The Curse of the Seven Swedish Maids” was set in Egypt and saw our characters mixed up with a stolen diamond.


In September 2011 I suggested that we adapt this play for the big screen and we set about improving the script.

My idea was to demonstrate what could be achieved with the latest home animation software and a heap of passionate dedication…..

Writing the script was hard work but crucial to the films success. There are still large elements of the original play in the film, but almost all dialogue was replaced. We also introduced new characters and plot lines.


Once we got the script to a certain point I was able to go it alone and make my film.

Meanwhile the marketplace for 3D assets was maturing, enabling me to find 99% of what I needed for set design ready made, and at a reasonable cost.

Most 3D models were purchased and exported through DAZ Studio with just a handful being created specially.

Muvizu is based on the Unreal game engine. Imagine a first person shoot ’em up with the camera taking the place of player.


Add some dialogue and a bit of lighting and you’re making movies!

All the raw footage is created in Muvizu but I soon realised I needed a compositor to finish off shots and to achieve things that were not possible to animate. Luckily an affordable yet brilliant compositor was beginning to take hold in the market and HitFilm became my second vital tool.

Editing was performed using Magix Vegas Pro. Vegas enabled me to add most audio effects on the fly and also supports the 5.1 surround mix I wanted.

I finished the first draft of the film in January 2017, performing all the parts myself except the female ones. Jo Archer who appeared in the original play “Beware the Pie” kindly stepped in for those.

After some minor tweaking with Simon I was ready to assemble my cast.

A Facebook call out for actors in a local Amateur Dramatics group had a good response.

We auditioned around 20 people and got half the parts cast.

I called upon the services of people I’d used for other projects and all the original cast of “Beware the Pie” from 30 years ago.

As word spread, additional actors and singers got involved. I even recorded a local 25 piece brass band!

Almost all the film was recorded at my house in Northamptonshire – I have a room perfect as it’s quite dead acoustically. I also used a studio in Glasgow for the Scottish cast.

I decided to record everyone separately. Although this may have been a very different discipline for some of the actors who were used to ensemble pieces, it gave me more control over the edit.

It also allowed me to direct the film line by line to get the performances I wanted. Voicing the whole thing myself for the first draft really payed off.

I decided to release the film using Amazon video direct as I liked the way titles are presented and also their support for independent film makers.

I arranged a screening at the Errol Flynn independent cinema in Northampton to thank all those that gave their time and talents for nothing (repeatedly). Everyone has been massively supportive.

So that’s the story of the making of “Beware the Eye of Amun-Ra”.

But have I achieved my goal and has it been worth seven years of my life…..? I’ll let you judge for yourselves!


Please feel free to leave any comments or get in touch for further details