Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders are Creative Directors / Executive Producers and co-founders of Mackinnon & Saunders Ltd.
Ian and Peter’s talented team have worked on a huge range of TV series, short films, commercials and feature films. Their work includes puppets for popular TV shows such as Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Scream Street, Pingu, Koala Brothers, Rastamouse, Strange Hill High, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, Twirlywoos and the new Clangers. Feature film work includes Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.
Mackinnon & Saunders also produce TV commercials and develop entertainment programmes for children's TV, including the award-winning BBC TV series Frankenstein’s Cat and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion.
The Mackinnon & Saunders stop motion studio team has produced animation for DreamWorks Classics ( Postman Pat SDS™ for CBeebies), Komixx Entertainment (Toby’s Travelling Circus for Channel 5) and Ragdoll (Twirlywoos for CBeebies).
In 2013, Mackinnon & Saunders Digital Studios was launched as a joint venture with Komixx Entertainment. The studio’s first production was a 2D digital animation series called Wanda and the Alien (Channel 5).
A Very Brief History
Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders began working together in the 1980s at one of Europe’s largest animation companies, Cosgrove Hall Films. They pioneered new techniques in puppet making on productions such as the BAFTA-winning The Reluctant Dragon and Emmy Award-winning The Fool of the World and The Wind in the Willows.
At the start of the 1990s, Ian and Peter set up their business partnership. At the same time Ian produced The Sandman with colleagues Colin Batty and Paul Berry. This dramatic short film won many awards on the international festival circuit and received an Oscar nomination in 1993. The film is used in UK schools by the British Film Institute as an introduction to film language.
1995 saw the business expand internationally when director Tim Burton asked Mackinnon & Saunders to design and construct the Martian characters for the feature film Mars Attacks! M&S set up a design studio in Los Angeles to make animation puppets and life-size Martian characters for the film, and increased its Manchester-based team from 5 to 45 people.
Following their collaboration on Mars Attacks!, Tim Burton asked Ian and Peter to create the puppets for Corpse Bride. Working from designs by Tim Burton and Carlos Grangel, the team produced an incredibly intricate cast of characters.
Tim Burton said
“...there was no question in my mind that these were the guys to do it...They do such beautiful work, very sensitive and textural; you really do believe the characters are alive.”
In 2006, Ian and Peter were awarded the Ub Iwerks Award at the ASIFA 33rd Annual Annie Awards in Hollywood. This Special Jury Prize for Technical Achievement honours the ingeniously machined face controls designed especially for Corpse Bride.
The fabulous furry puppets for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox were created in the M&S workshops in 2007.
In 2009, Mackinnon & Saunders collaborated with Tim Burton again, working closely with the director to create the characters for Frankenweenie.
In 2013, Ian and Peter were presented with the Bradford Animation Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.
In November 2013, Mackinnon & Saunders received a special Judges Award from the Royal Television Society North West.
The Mackinnon & Saunders studio production team received a BAFTA nomination in 2014 for Best Children’s Pre- School animation of Postman Pat SDS™, produced for DreamWorks Classics.
In 2015, Ian and Peter received Honorary Doctorates from Staffordshire University in recognition of their special contributions in the field of stop motion animation.
Ragdoll for CBeebies 2015
RTS North West Award for Best Animation/Puppetry 2015
Komixx Entertainment for Channel Five 2012 -2013
DreamWorks Classics 2012 – 2013
*BAFTA nomination 2014
A co-production with Chapman Entertainment
For CBeebies 2011
A co-production with Kayenta Production, Paris
For CBBC - first aired in 2007
MoMA New York 2009
ACMI, Australia 2010
Toronto International Film Festival, Canada 2010
LACMA Los Angeles, USA 2011
La Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, France 2012
SeMA Museum of Art, Seoul 2013
Max Ernst Museum, Bruhl, Germany 2015
Publicis NY/Procter and Gamble 2000–2011
Pegasus PR 2011
HoHo Entertainment 2011
VGI for CBeebies 2008
Nickelodeon UK 2000
Puppet Making for Feature Films
Puppet Making Support Services for Feature Films
Puppets & Modelmaking for TV Productions, Short Films & Feature Films
Puppets & Modelmaking for Advertising, Promotions & Exhibitions
These are some of the awards and nominations received by productions that we’ve worked on:
Golden Globe nomination 2013
BAFTA nomination 2013
British Animation Awards Best Feature Film 2006
Venice Film Festival Future Film Digital Award 2005
Los Angeles ASIFA Annies: Ub Iwerks Award for Technical Achievement awarded to Mackinnon & Saunders for animated head mechanisms 2006
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Animation 2009
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Film 2009
Annecy Animation Festival Cristal Award for Best Feature Film 2009
Bradford Animation Festival Best TV series 2008 awarded to Mackinnon & Saunders
Hiroshima Animation Festival Grand Prix 1992
Annecy Animation Festival Best Short Film 1993
Stuttgart Animation Festival Best Short Film 1993
Ottawa Animation Festival Best Animated Film 1994
Espinho Animation Festival Best Animated Film 1994
BAFTA nomination Best Animated Short Film 2000
Ottawa Animation Festival Best First Professional Film 2000
Seattle International Film Festival Short Film Award 2000
Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films Best First Film 2000
Melbourne International Film Festival Best Short Animation 1995
Academy Award Oscar® nomination Best Short Animated Film 1995
Palm Springs International ShortFest Jury Award 1995
Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy 2001
BAFTA nomination Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film 2001
Golden Globe Awards nomination Best Comedy/Musical
Animexpo Korea Special Jury Prize 1997
Barcelona Film Festival Audience Prize 1996
Hiroshima Animation Festival Special Jury Prize 1996
Bilbao Silver Medal for Animation 1995
BAFTA nomination Best Short Animated Film 1996
Ottawa Animation Festival Special Prize 1994
Cinanima Honourable Mention 1994
Chicago International Film Festival Silver Plaque 1994
British Short Film Festival Best Animation 1993
Chicago Film Festival Gold Plaque 1993
Hiroshima Animation Festival Best 5 – 15 minutes Film1994
Academy Award Oscar® nomination Best Short Animated Film 1993
Oberhausen Film Festival Best Animated Film 1993
Annecy Animation Festival Special Distinction for Artistic Merit 1993
Espinho Best 5 - 15 minutes Film 1990
British Animation Awards Best Technical Achievement 1990
Academy Award Oscar® shortlisted for nomination Best Short Animated Film1999
Krok Animation Festival Best 15 – 30 minutes film 1999
Ottawa Animation Festival Best Object Animation 1999
British Animation Awards Best TV Special 2002
Chicago International Children’s Film Festival Children’s Jury Award 2002
Florida Film Festival Audience Award Best International Short Film 2002
Mackinnon & Saunders was founded after Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders had established their puppet making team at Cosgrove Hall in Manchester. Productions worked on there included:
International Emmy Award 1983
Chicago International Children’s Festival First Prize 1991