11 July 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network

Irish Film and Television Network


Education / Training


Making the Cut

Making The Cut....Tomm Moore - Co-Founder and Creative Director of Animation Studio Cartoon Saloon
28 Jan 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
As co-founder and creative director of animation studio Cartoon Saloon, Tomm Moore has worked as a director, art director, storyboarder, animator and illustrator on a range of projects spanning from commercials and short films to feature films and TV series. His most successful film to date has been ‘The Secret of Kells’, which won Tomm both the Best Animation and Rising Star Award at the annual Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTAs), and the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards in 2010. Tomm was selected for the SDGI Finders Series and named European Director of the Year at the Cartoon Movie Tributes. His next feature is ‘The Prophet’.

How did Ballyfermot College of Further Education prepare you for your career in animating, directing and producing animated features?
“It was an unusual college in that people in the college wanted to be animators, and wanted to do practical animation, so that was mainly what I worked on in Ballyfermot. I was in charge of directing. With the lecturers, most of their experience was of working in the big studios in Dublin.”

Were you offered practical experience/work placement/work experience as part of your course? If you were, how did it benefit you?
“I think at the time, back in the nineties, things were going bad for animation. A lot of the studios were closing down so there wouldn’t have been the same opportunities as there are now. There’s a lot of work [now] and a lot of studios. Most people were going to England and America when they graduated when I was in college. There weren’t the same opportunities for work placement.”

What areas in training for film/TV production do you feel are lacking?
“I think they are improved, and I think the colleges have the right attitude now. They’re moving in the right direction but they still have to be constantly adapting. I think the thing we find the most difficult is that a lot of the students coming from the French and English colleges are more ready for the industry. It’s getting better but a lot of the people who are graduating from the Irish colleges still aren’t industry-ready... I think work placements will be really important and longer internships as part of the course. Like the Danish college Animation Workshop – they always take students in our studio for about three months before they finish. Very often, after this period, they offer them the job because they’ve had a long time in the studio getting to know how they work. They end up becoming indispensable – it’d be good if the Irish colleges adapted this.”

What improvements could be made?
“I think it would be good if the students were more informed about how projects get funded and off the ground in Europe - that it’s not just about getting a job as an animator. If they could understand how to develop and pitch projects, I think that’d be something that maybe the colleges could link up with.”

How did you make the transition from education to paid employment?
“The college course co-ordinator at the time, Elma Chambers, put me in touch with some people that were contacting the college looking for work. So I started doing freelance work while I was in college. Then my partner Paul [Young] was in college with me at the time and he had a contact for illustration and animation jobs, so we teamed up and started cartooning in college. While we were doing jobs, Ballyfermot was quite supportive because they allowed us to; they took the work we were doing for the company into consideration for our final grade. That allowed us to do some of the commercial work we were doing as kind of part of the course… We started so early, we already had a company [Cartoon Saloon, which was founded in by Paul and Tomm in Tomm’s third year in Ballyfermot] going in our final year of college. It rolled on; it wasn’t like we went out and then tried to start up.”

What are you currently working on?
“I’m in the last stages of ‘Song of the Sea’, a new feature film we’re working on. We are working with our co-production partners in Belgium at the moment, trying to get it all wrapped up for this summer.”

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Alan Maher on Producing
Fiona Graham on Cinematography
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