Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Oscars 2009: Nominees' diary

British animators Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith were for this year's Academy Award for best animated short.

A clip from This Way Up

The London-based pair, who work out of East End animation company Nexus, were recognised for their nine-minute comedy This Way Up.

Partly funded by the BBC, the darkly humorous work tells of father and son undertakers trying to bury a surprisingly troublesome old lady.

Here Adam and Alan told us of their preparations and experiences as they got ready to play a small part in Hollywood's biggest night.

Foulkes and Smith
Foulkes and Smith, reporting for duty

Adam: Well, Hollywood has been spared of our super slick, hilarious acceptance speech for this year but it's been a great experience and (hopefully) one day we'll be back.

I'd just like to say a big , big thank you to Chris and Charlotte, the whole crew at Nexus and everybody who worked on the film.

Oh... and I mustn't forget the missus, Shannon, for putting up with me for the seven months of production. Thank you and goodnight!


Alan: Ah well, the plucky Brits lose again. Actually, every other plucky Brit seemed to win but we'll skip over that. I bet the BBC is glad it asked us to do a blog.

What a bizarre day. Wading through a sea of limos, inching forward on the red carpet, reaching celeb saturation point.

In the end, we were strangely relieved that we didn't win as every speech was beautifully executed, whereas ours would have been a shambling mess. But its a shame that we never got the chance to thank Chris and Charlotte at Nexus for bringing us out here, our generous benefactors The Animation Show, Arcadi and, of course, the good old BBC.

And, on a personal note, thank you to my wife Paula and my kids Elliot, Olivia and Amelie for putting up with me (or not putting up with me).

It's been an incredible ride but now its time to go home and start again.

Although I might just have a day off first.


Adam in his top hat
The top hats are still an option. No, really.
Adam: The good luck messages have started flooding in and I'm glad its all finally happening tomorrow. At 1445 our stretched limo (a hearse would have been more appropriate) will take us to the Kodak Theatre and the red carpet.

Crazy to think that next week I'll be back on the bus going from London Bridge to the studio. The top hats are still an option and the biggest question of the day has been: To shave or not to shave?

I know what my mum would say.


Alan: Well it seems we're a dead cert for Oscar glory after all and it's all down to taxi LA Checker 6165.

Whilst innocently ferrying us around town earlier today, our somewhat erratic Russian driver told us that Sean Penn and Hilary Swank both won Oscars after sitting in the very same vehicle. We chose to ignore the fact that 215,674 other people had ridden inside and not won an Oscar, and took it as a good sign.

Team S&F have also been bolstered by the arrival of our beloved spouses who have brought a welcome touch of glamour to proceedings.

If only we could all stay awake we'd be unstoppable!


Adam: Did the LA thing this morning a went for a run round Beverly Hills. After feeling pretty smug I realised I'd got a huge blister. Should make for an interesting walk down the red carpet in my new squeaky shoes. Apparently its only 150 yards long.

In the afternoon we went on the nominees' tour of the Dreamworks animation studios. It was all fascinating stuff and really interesting to see how they're pushing the technology. The tour ended with a preview of Monsters vs Aliens in 3D.

The wives arrive tonight and can't wait to catch up. The Oscar excitement is gradually building and so are the nerves!

Where are all the parties and freebies? Prince, Elton and Madonna haven't called
Alan Smith
Alan: It's Friday and we've started to wind down the meetings schedule quite a bit. We've wandered around the studio lots of Sony, Fox, Universal, Disney and now Dreamworks.

Fox definitely wins for that "I feel like I'm in The Player" moment but Dreamworks were kind enough to show us some of their new feature-making technology and set up a screening of the nominated films for us and their staff, followed by a quick Q&A.

We also got to see some scenes from the new 3D movie Monsters vs Aliens. Everyone in this town is talking about 3D at the moment so it looks like your average night down the cinema in future will more often than not involve wearing a dodgy pair of 3D specs. It did look amazing though.

As the weekend approaches we're feeling the need to glam up our trip a bit. Where are all the parties and freebies? Prince, Elton and Madonna haven't called. Miramax are staging a hot ticket event on our hotel roof tomorrow. Obviously, we're not invited.

Might have to find the service elevator - my tux makes me look like a waiter anyway


Adam: Meetings and more meetings today. We even tried to have a meeting with a company we weren't even scheduled to have a meeting with. This is getting out of hand.

Got to meet Henson's, home of Kermit the Frog before brushing up on our Oscar day schedule. Apparently it runs with military precision. Lets hope me and Alan do too.


Alan: OK, so we went to some more meetings. But that's not very exciting to hear about, I guess. So this time I'll have to talk about the car ride between them. Very smooth, but some bad traffic on the freeway. That doesn't leave much else to report.

If it's Thursday, it must be a meeting with Kermit the Frog
If it's Thursday, it must be a meeting with Kermit the Frog
We did get interviewed by Sky News today, but now we've answered the same questions so many times we just laughed all the way through it. Not very professional. Not very Hollywood.

More excitingly, I managed to Skype my lovely kids today and my 4 year old daughter was dressed in her Oscars frock, which I think she is now intending to wear full time. Kids grow up so fast these days.

Our American PR agent explained to us all the exciting things we will be doing on Sunday, about how not to be too disappointed when none of the media want to interview you on the red carpet, and what to expect should we actually pick up the little golden fella.

The "in case we don't win" scenario was somewhat less appealing: "Leave ceremony, go to a bar."

The first round's on me.


Adam: The sun came out today and the meetings flowed thick and fast. We got to meet people at both Universal and Disney Studios and even managed a stroll down Dopey Drive. I half expected the squirrels to start singing and do a little dance routine.

It was a high-powered lunch of crisps and juice on a garage forecourt before continuing the cut and thrust Hollywood lifestyle we seem to have adopted. It didn't last for long though as we seemed to glaze over by the final meeting and retreated to the hotel pool.

We finally made it to Friar Tux for our suit fittings and had a quick drink with the other nominees that Ron Diamond, a producer, had very kindly laid on at his place.

Eventually we made it to dinner with Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill. He was responsible for giving us the very first bit of money to get This Way Up off the ground so it was great to finally meet him. I'm also a huge fan of his stuff.

Alan: The 'This Way Up circle' was officially closed tonight as we met up with Mike Judge and Rob and Rebecca from The Animation Show. These were the kind hearted spirits who first contacted us to ask why the hell we hadn't made a short film in living memory.

Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith
Choosing the perfect tux is an essential part of the preparations

Back in mid 2007 they gave us a bit of cash and a huge kick up the arse, and eight months later we had a film. So we spent a very pleasant evening at a steakhouse in Santa Barbara talking Hollywood shop with someone who has basically been there and done that. Can't wait to see Mike's latest feature.

That came after another long day forcing ourselves upon all manner of unsuspecting industry people. So far we've been welcomed with polite interest and haven't been forcibly ejected from any premises. We even managed a stroll along Dopey Drive at Disney.

But eventually the fun had to stop as we were late for our fitting at Friar Tux. We went for something fairly traditional but were sorely tempted by some ridiculous top hats. Everyone needs a gimmick in this town.


Adam: It's been a hectic day of meetings with various studios, agents, an attorney and a few interviews too.

We had a break for a quick lunch of a huge plate of fish and chips LA style and a bowl of coffee. We didn't manage to squeeze in our tux fitting and I'm not sure if I'll be able to squeeze into my tux if I carry on eating as I am.

We finished the day at the Academy screening of all the short films. It was great to meet the other nominees and see the films on the big screen playing to a full house. There was lots more interviews and pictures of us standing next to a giant Oscar. I'm not sure what the end result will be but I'm enjoying the ride.

Jet lag is kicking in so until tomorrow....

Alan: Time for a moment of quiet reflection. Sometimes your brain can have too much information to absorb as you rush through meeting after meeting. But it's all useful stuff, trying to work out not just which future project to get involved with but how to get it made. Still, it's nice to be told how great you are all day long. I could get used to that.

Had a chance to meet the other nominees tonight and watch all the films together. We got a few laughs from the packed house, which was nice, and all five films seemed to go down well.

Can't really call it for Sunday but still got a feeling Presto and Oktapodi are the front runners. Had lots of snaps taken in front of a six foot Oscar. Might just be the closest we get.


Adam: After a weekend of frantically running around dropping off animals, wife and baby, we finally arrive in LA. I had big ideas of getting an upgrade and even dropped the "Oscar nominee" line. The assistant smiled and charged me 25 excess baggage.

We're now camped in West Hollywood and I'm looking forward to a well-earned rest round the pool for the next few days. Chris and Charlotte, our producers, have other ideas and have set up a breakfast meeting with our agent.

Oh, and the pool area is closed due to flooding. The Smith and Foulkes Oscar experience has just begun.

Alan: So here we are, let loose in La La Land. Welcome to our little Oscars blog where shall be reporting back from the inside of the Show Business Machine.

Not seen too much evidence of Oscars activity as yet, and there was no ticker tape parade for us as we stepped off the plane, which was mildly disappointing.

Actually, we've both been amazed by the press interest back home for us little 'ol Animated Short Nominees. There's even talk of Richard and Judy's sofa which would be one lifetime ambition crossed off. Only if we win, probably. So no pressure.

Inevitably awake at 4am this morning, even though we made a fine effort last night to stay up and make an immediate time adjustment.

Almost bumped into (Sir) Stephen Fry at the hotel bar, then out to the Strip for a very tasty slap-up Japanese feast.

We thought we'd arrange all our meetings between 7 and 9am when we'd be at our perkiest, so it's straight into a PR maelstrom of agents, attorneys and press interviews. There are a lot of people who want to meet us at various studios so it looks like we'll have a fairly busy time.

But that rooftop pool does look very inviting...

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