Disney classic puts ex-Wigan student in line for award

A FORMER Wigan college student hopes to be king of the animated world after reaching the final of a prestigious film competition.

Michael Whaite, 38, who attended Wigan and Leigh College, has recreated Disney’s The Lion King to earn his spot in the finals of the Jameson Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition, which is part of the 2011 Jameson Empire Awards.

Michael Whaite working on his 60 second remake of The Lion King

Michael Whaite working on his 60 second remake of The Lion King

To win, he will need to gain the seal of approval from the Academy award-winning British director of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper, who is leading the judging panel.

The UK entries were whittled down to a shortlist of five finalists by 23,000 avid film fans, voting at Empireonline.com.

Entries included remakes of classics like Ghost, Die Hard and The Wizard of Oz.

Now, Michael faces opposition from 19 other entries coming from 11 countries, all of whom will be showcased at the DISS (Done in Sixty Seconds) International Finals night, at the London Film Museum on Friday.

Michael, who now lives in Altrincham, said: “I have been reading Empire magazine for years and I entered last year, with a version of Roger Rabbit, which was part animation, part live action.

“I got through to the shortlisted final and went to the celebrity award ceremony, and it was a really good experience.

“This year, I decided to do something completely animated and wanted to do a Disney film, as they are classics.

“It was nice and simple to do in 60 seconds.

“I was quite surprised a completely animated film got through.

“I was not expecting it, as there is not much chance of getting to the final again.

“It would be really good to win.”

When Michael left Wigan and Leigh College, he entered an animation training scheme in Manchester, and started working on animation illustration for children’s TV, including Dangermouse, animated versions of Dr Who, and puppetry for CBeebies.

The DISS International Finals night will see all 24 finalists screened, and five final shortlisted entries will be announced,

These shortlisted winners will then attend the star-studded Jameson Empire Awards two days later, on March 27, at the Grosvenor House Hotel – where the judging panel will announce the overall winner.

Any budding film-makers can log on to the Jameson Empire Done In 60 Seconds Film Academy to learn top movie-making tips from the stars: www.jamesonwhiskey.com/DISS.