Dave Alex was born, in 1954, In Leicester and brought up near Mkt. Harborough in an environment of Photography and Theatre inspired by his Father, Artist/Photographer….. Alec Riddett.
Early ambitions of being a Musician, Cartoonist, Performer, puppeteer, etc were constantantly overshadowed with the Magic of Film making and Stop Frame Animation even though He wasnt sure what that entailed. Encounters with the film work of Georges Melies, George Pal, Ray Harryhausen, Terry Gilliam and the early effects work of Derek Meddings for Tv programmes such as Fireball XL5 and Thunderbirds , seemed to make sense….
Dave made his first films at school on an old 8mm camera firstly crudely animating his toy Action Man figures and later involving his friends and trying to incorporate what he imagined were special effects ( almost getting expelled from one school when a particularly SFX heavy fire and explosion scene got a bit too realistic ).
After a Foundation Year at Loughborough College of Art ( 1973/74 ), garnering the essential basics of drawing and Painting , he went on to Leeds College of Art ( 1974/77 ) , specialising in Film, and gaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Prompted by his Film tutor, Adrian York, Dave moved to Bristol in 1977 to attend the Universities renowned Radio Film and Television post graduate course under the leadership of Prof. George Brandt. “a most productive period of my life that gave me some of the best training, in all aspects of film making, that I could have wished for”.
Enthused by Bristols borgeoning Film and Music scene and encouraged by new found friend and fellow RFT graduate, Dave Borthwick , Dave Alex decided to make Bristol his home.
After a time Freelancing he, initially, went back to work with the University Film unit as a Film cameraman and Technical supervisor with the RFT course. By the mid eighties and having amassed a collection of Bolex Film cameras he returned to freelancing.
During this fruitful period Dave Alex and Dave Borthwick continued making films together and eventually, in a small basement studio, they co founded, what was to become, the film collective BOLEX BROS. Creating, Throughout the 80s several short films, music promos and TV title sequences.
Later the basement studio also played host to Three low budget TV serials with such inspiring titles as ‘False teeth from beyond the stars’ and ‘Attack of the Atomic Banana’, Photographed and Directed by Dave Alex.
In 1985 Dave took some time out to cross the Atlantic in a 45′ Yacht armed only with two clockwork Bolex cameras filming the documentary ‘Emilys Voyage’.
It was also in the mid 80s that Dave began his professional association with Peter Lord and Dave Sproxton at Aardman Animations.
Early projects include, Principle Cameraman on Peter Gabriels award winning Music Promo “Sledgehammer”, Lighting countless TV Commercials and Many of the early award winning short films including ‘Ident’, ‘Next’ ‘Going Equipped’ and Nick Parks’ Original Academy Award winning “Creature Comforts”.
From lending a hand with the Moon sequence on Nick Parks “A Grand Day Out” Dave Alex continued his long time collaboration with Nick Photographing ‘The Wrong Trousers’ ( with Tristan Oliver ) and has since remained a regular Director of Photography on the subsequent Wallace and Gromit short films ‘ A Close Shave’ and ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death”.
Following the success of ‘Wrong Trousers’ Dave Alex was taken on, full time, by Aardmans as a staff Cinematographer/Director in the mid 1990s, initially as Director of Photography for ‘ A Close Shave ‘ and by the latter part of the decade he was preparing, as Senior Director of Photography, for the companys’ first Feature Film, ‘Chicken Run’
“This was a giant stepforward from Aardmans earlier short films, in terms of scope and technique, however I am happy that it still retained that handcrafted quality that I love in stopmotion storytelling”.
Internationally, This still remains one of the most successful ‘stop frame’ feature films and although shot on good old 35mm film, achieving the majority of its effects ‘incamera’, was one of the first feature length films to embrace digital grading throughout.
In 2000, for his work on Chicken Run, Dave was nominated for a BAFTA for achievement in special visual effects.
After a period Directing Commercials Dave Alex teamed up again with Fellow Director of Photography, Tristan Oliver, for Wallace and Gromits’ First Feature Film ‘Curse of the Wererabbit’.
Renowned film Critic , Mark Kermode stated that ‘Wererabbit’ “had, in his opinion, the best cinematography of the year”….now there’s a guy that appreciates a good movie…
And a gold Kermode statuette, for the cinematography, takes pride of place on Daves’ desk.
Daves connection with Wallace and Gromit remains… having returned as DOP on most of their major outings From their TV series ‘World of Inventions’ to a recent Wallace and Gromit Proms special ‘Musical Marvels” , and including numerous stills projects , several advertising campaigns and, in 2011, Dave was very proud to have Photographed a series of W & G Christmas stamps for the Royal Mail .
In 2012 he served as Senior Lighting Cameraman on the 3D feature ‘Pirates in an adventure with Scientists’ which he followed up as Director of Photography on the short “spin off” film
‘So You Want to be a Pirate’.
Other projects have included a music promo with Nick Park, Several TV series projects (including Shaun the Sheep and Creature Comforts USA), work with the wonderful Theatre group ‘Forkbeard Fantasy’ and is in the process of creating several “Behind the scenes” short films (utilizing Daves large archive of material ) which he hopes will encourage future film makers.
He is due to start working on Aardmans next feature Film, a sequel to Chicken Run, later in the year.