Paul Wells

  • Professor of Animation

Research groups and centres

Professor Paul Wells is Director of the Animation Academy, a research group dedicated to cutting edge engagement with Animation and related moving image practices. Paul is an internationally established scholar, screenwriter and director, having published widely in Animation and Film Studies, and written and directed numerous projects for theatre, radio, television and film.

Paul's books include Understanding Animation (London: Routledge), Animation and America (Rutgers University Press), The Fundamentals of Animation (Lausanne: AVA), and The Animated Bestiary: Animals, Cartoons and Culture (Rutgers University Press), now all standard texts in the study, practice and research of animation as a field. His work also embraces collaborative texts, including Drawing for Animation (Lausanne: AVA) with master animator, Joanna Quinn, and Re-Imagining Animation (Lausanne: AVA) with Johnny Hardstaff, leading graphic designer and film-maker with Ridley Scott Associates. 

Paul’s text, Scriptwriting (Lausanne: AVA), forms the basis of workshops and consultancies he has conducted worldwide. His continuing professional engagements, include working with writers from The Simpsons and Spongebob Squarepants, and developing animated shorts, children’s series, documentaries and features in Norway, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, and the United States. 

Spinechillers, Paul’s radio history of the horror film won a Sony Award, while Britannia – The Film was chosen as an Open University set text. His recent TV documentaries on John Coates, Geoff Dunbar, and John Halas – the latter based on his book, Halas & Batchelor Cartoons – An Animated History (London: Southbank Publishing) with Vivien Halas – have been presented at festivals globally. He was also a consultant for the BBC’s Animation Nation

Paul is Chair of the Association of British Animation Collections (ABAC), a collaborative initiative with the BFI, BAFTA and the National Media Museum.

Paul is interested in developing theories of practice, and practices of theory. He has recently completed an annotated bibliography for animation theory and practice for Oxford University Press, and is the editor of a new journal, Animation Practice, Process and Production (Bristol: Intellect) that seeks to present different aspects of research-led practice and production processes. As well as encouraging research in animation, Paul is increasingly involved in developing work on screenwriting and archival practices. He is currently writing a book about global animation archives with Mette Peters from the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film; another on Character Animation (London: Laurence King) with colleague, Andrew Selby, and a monograph on Animation, Sport and Culture.

  • SAB 448 Animation: Context, Theory and Practice
  • SAP 004 Exploring Materials, Processes and Techniques
  • SAA 124 Critical Practice in Fine Art

Paul's current PhD supervisions include:

  • Kerry Drumm: The Art of Persuasion: The British Animated Public Information Film from 1939 - 2009
  • Manki Park: A Study in the Construction of Identities: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a Contemporary Context
  • Tariq Alrimawi: Arab Animation Cinema: History, Theory and Practice, co supervised with Dr. Robert Harland
  • Samantha Moore: Out of Sight: The role of animated documentary in representing unique brain states, co supervised with Christin Bolewski
  • Seymour Lavine: , co supervised with Dr. Jane Tormey
  • Sarra Hornby:
  • Ho-Won Nah: Animated Metamorphosis in Caroline Leaf’s Work, co supervised with Andrew Selby
  • Gill Bliss: How might a redefining of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representation bring a new impetus to the use of animal imagery in present day animation?, co supervised with Andrew Selby

Paul's completed PhD supervisions include:

  • Dr. Tom Walsh: The in-betweeners: Irish animation as a postcolonial discourse [2008]
  • Dr. Hyunseok Lee: Representing Korean Buddhist Art and Architecture: A 3D Animated Documentary Installation [2011]
  • Dr. Fabia Lin: Doubling the Duality: a Theoretical and Practical Investigation into Materiality and the Embodiment of Meaning in the Integration of Live Action and Animation [2013]

Paul is interested in supervising prospective research students with interests in animation and interior states, animation and activism, animated public information films, the relationship between live action and animation, animation screenwriting and cultural specificity, sound and animation, animation and social identity, and animation as a distinctive form of expression.