It was back in 2014 that freelance graphic designer Billy Hanshaw made the headlines, when a video he had uploaded to Youtube landed him the job of the designing the title sequence for Peter Capaldi’s tenure in Doctor Who.
With Doctor Who entering an exciting new era under Russell T Davies, and Billy launching a new motion design venture in MotionWorks, we decided there was no better time to look back at how a speculative animation became the official opening titles for one of the BBC’s flagship shows. Billy, along with MotionWorks producer Jonny Butler, sat down to reminisce.
Q: To begin, let's recap how you first came to the attention of Doctor Who's show runner and executive producer Steven Moffat
B: Basically, I posted a video online of a new idea I had for the Doctor Who titles. It was only ever meant as a portfolio piece to test some novel concepts and help promote my work.
Q: That must have come as quite a surprise. What did he have to say?
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the working relationship you had with BBC Wales?
Q: Were you disappointed that you didn't get to build the titles yourselves?
B: We always had the intention to revisit the project down the line and develop the original ideas as a studio piece. We never seemed to find the time until the pandemic hit. Lockdown was hard, but at least we got the opportunity to revisit a few projects with total creative control.
Q: What do you remember of the PR and media reaction surrounding the announcement of your involvement?
B: Requests for interviews were coming in from all over the place. I was on BBC radio and the TV news. My original video even got a full airing on Look North, the regional news programme for the Leeds area. The views on Youtube went through the roof, quickly hitting the million mark. Jonny even penned an article about it all for Doctor Who Magazine.
Q: How did the fanbase react to the news?
Q: So why haven't we seen any more title sequences from you guys?
B: Working on Doctor Who definitely opened doors for us, but not necessarily the doors we were anticipating. Around the time we started work on the titles, another unexpected opportunity came our way that was too good to pass up. Providing reconstruction animations for global law firms is something else I never imagined we would be doing, but that side of the business has really taken off under the name Incident Films. Initially, the demanding nature of the work was time-consuming due to our unfamiliarity with the legal sector. Now, with years of experience behind us, and a bigger team, we’ll certainly be pursuing title sequence projects again.