Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with YouTube Figure Film director and former BBC DVD effects master, Brendan Sheppard. For Part 1 of my interview check out my previous entry, where we discussed a bit more of the making of the stories.

Let’s talk a little bit about your background, you worked with the BBC on some of the Doctor Who DVD releases. Can you tell us exactly what you did and perhaps tell us a bit on how you got involved with that?

After The Tunnel Effect I worked on The Time Warrior DVD. This was a very special one for me as I got to spend a night with Terrance Dicks and the late Barry Letts on location in Peckforton Castle. Neither myself or my crew will ever forget that shoot. It was so much fun especially when Barry watched the Time Warrior CGI he turned and said to me “So… Invasion of the Dinosaurs!!” I told this story to Rob Semenoff who produced a fab shot of a dinosaur from the show and Barry loved it when he saw it, sadly Daniel decided it would be better to spend the money on colourising Episode 1 than CGI Dinosaurs and that’s probably a good decision.

After Time Warrior, I worked on Davros Connections the most expensive feature 2|e had done at the time and I experimented with CGI background and time lines which I thought worked really well but after it was released there was an outcry from fans who said you included Big Finish and the TV Stories but not the magazines, books etc.. and I couldn’t really say why that was the case, the answer was that Daniel had said that the canon was Big Finish and the TV stories nothing else, so I did what I was instructed.

Next was Brain of Morbius, I struck lucky to get Paul McGann for the voice over shoot and meeting people like Philip, Cynthia, Colin and especially Gillian Brown was a real treat. I think Tom and Lis where being very selective over which stories they did interviews for so they declined this one. But I continued my usual features for 2|e like the easter eggs and the factoids.

I know I worked on Attack of the Cybermen, The Deadly Assassin and a few others plus I cut some trailers but when it came to the Guardian Box Set I decided I would tackle the whole set myself. I contacted Fiona Cumming to chat about the Enlightenment Special Edition and she was delighted to work on it. I actually learn’t a lot of unknown behind the scenes facts from Fiona, you know, things that really shouldn’t make it into the public domain and it did change my perceptions of Doctor Who in the Eighties and gave me an even greater respect for John Nathan-Turner. What I mainly learn’t was don’t believe everything you hear or read about because there is lots of unsaid things too.

I got to work with a fine set of people for that three disc box set, Peter Davison showed us the script for Time Crash, Nicholas Courtney and Simon Ockenden loved doing Liberty Hall, Fiona, Russell, Rob and myself had a ball doing the Enlightenment Special Edition and people like Keith Barron and Floella Benjamin where such a joy to talk to. But without doubt one of the biggest things for me was the interview with Barbara Clegg – what a woman, she brought in a newspaper clipping – her on the front cover of the Daily Mirror just after she left Emergency Ward 10 which we couldn’t include in the set due to copyright. There was also a feature with Pat Mills that couldn’t be included. But we did a stunning job on the CGI Options for this release and I love what we did with Terminus which I think looks much better.

Finally, I worked on The Kamelion Box Set and I actually think Planet of Fire Special Edition is just as good if not better than Enlightenment we did quite a big re-edit of the story and added some nice effects and I think its Fiona’s finest hour, it was nice to see her back in studio filming a new scene for the story as well.

I ended my time on the DVDs on a rather sad note, I had decided that it was time to go anyway and was planning to give it up for a while after Planet of Fire however, I had been quite critical of others on the range who had been very openly critical of my work and what I felt I had added to the range was more entertainment value and higher production values. But Daniel decided, quite rightly, was that it was better quality features and producers he wanted and I was subsequently not given any further work.

Wow, you did a lot of stuff on those DVDs. I know I’ve often remarked about the labor of love put into those Doctor Who DVDs, so it’s great to see someone who worked so passionately up close with them. Did you learn anything working on those DVDs that perhaps you didn’t know about Doctor Who? Did those experiences help you to be able to create the awesome figure films that you do now?

Yes, I learned a lot about CGI really, I developed my skills to a higher level and thanks to Rob I learnt a hell of a lot about producing realistic effects. But nothing that really influenced my action figure series.

Let’s talk a bit about your models and sets. You seem to have some pretty impressive stuff. While some of the sets are literally made out of old scraps, others are much more detailed. Do you have three or four main sets or do you build them according to the story? What’s the process?

Actually I build them according to the story. I, now, go out and buy some things for the sets and I actually was very sad to see the destruction of the old TARDIS console room in the Time Assassin but it was necessary for the story and I had introduced the concept of console room changing as far back as The Tombs of Ice so it wasn’t a total surprise for the audience. I think one of my favourite sets was the ones I did for Siege of the Cybermen and Rise of the Sea Devils, I love working with stones and slabs and those sets where extremely difficult to film on and light but I think they look good. The only permanent sets I had for any given story was the TARDIS console room. Those eagle eyed among you might have noticed the exterior Police Box which was one I had made around 1996, I thought it looked so good so I used that for the first 5 or 6 stories, however it was getting very damaged by Sand, water, fire, etc… That I switched over the Dapol TARDIS for the last Dalek story.

Is there any figures that Dapol didn’t produce that you wish they did? Both as a fan and as a creator.

What a great question! Yes, i’d have like to have seen a Quark, Zygon, The Kandyman, the Rani and more companions to be honest, plus an old style console room might have been good too!

Surely with your talent, you probably have other things you’re doing. Do you make other films of this nature? Actual films? Or is this just a fun hobby for you?

This is just a hobby really, but in fact I’m just about to start filming a major 60 minute feature film in Cambridge, it starts shooting on March 18th so I’m putting everything on hold until that is finished as its a pretty major project and a script that has been in development for 5 years. There is a Facebook group you can join called Das Schuldige – The Guilty Film Production for anyone that’s interested. We hope to take this to film festivals around the globe when its ready around July time. I also now, these days, teach under privileged kids aged between 16-24 TV Production in a new multi-million pound TV Studio facility in Barking which is an awesome project to be involved with and its extremely challenging.

You have a few animation styles at work. From some basic stop motion to simple voiceover pictures… What are the strengths and advantages of your style? What exact style do you consider your work?

Well I don’t consider it to be stop motion. Its extremely difficult to do the method I do which is hold the figures and gently moving them but its advantages are simple – its quicker, easier and allows for more fluid motion but the key is never to see a hand! Trust me, I use some very elaborate techniques to hide hands and hand shadows but that’s a trade secret!

Right, well I thought I saw a couple bits of genuine stop-motion in a few adventures, but the other way you were explaining is also really well done. Surprisingly effective as well. What advice would you give people who want to create their own stories in a similar style?

Well a lot do on You Tube and some are really fantastic. My advice to anyone would be firstly to have a great story that’s the most important part and secondly just do it! Its loads of fun and the more detail you put into sets and figures the better the over all production! Just do it!!

Thanks so much for taking the time to discuss your films, your background with the BBC and all things Who with us fellow toy and Doctor Who lovers at InfiniteHollywood.com!

No problem, it’s been a pleasure.

For more Dapol Doctor Who Adventures and other Brendan Sheppard stuff check out: Dapol Doctor Who on YouTube

2 Responses to Interview with Dapol Doctor Who Part 2

  • A Very Inofrmative Interview there! 😀

    I quite enjoyed the most out of The Time Warrior & Brain of Morbius DVDs.
    And I hope to buy more of the same Classic Series DVDs in the near future.


  • Thanks. It's crazy cause a few months back I reviewed the Brain of Morbius DVD on this site and talked about how great the extras and CGI cutscreens were and then I ended up interviewing the guy responsible for a lot of it. I hope they continue to put out great DVDs like those.

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