Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson, like many other Scots, regard Billy Connolly as a bit of an icon. Unlike most Scots, they got to meet him moments after winning a Bafta.
The Making of Longbird, the 15-minute movie by the Edinburgh pair, won the Short Animation prize at the ceremony at the Royal Opera House on Sunday while Brave, starring Connolly, won the prize for Best Animated movie.
Will and Ainslie wore black kilts at the Baftas and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Anne Hathaway and Daniel Day-Lewis, but their meeting with Connolly was the highlight.
“We were walking down the red carpet and Billy Connolly noticed us and commented on our kilts,” said Will.
“I said to Ainslie before we went that it would be really good to meet him, and we did. He is a nice guy.”
Ainslie added: “Billy Connolly was a lovely man. He walked up quietly and said ‘will you have a look at that?’ and took the Bafta off me to hold it in his hands. He told me that it was heavier than an Oscar.
“We were wearing black kilts and Billy joked ‘you know that is an undertaker’s costume’.”
The Making of Longbird won the Bafta at the weekend after winning the Scottish Bafta last year.
In their acceptance speech both Will and Ainslie thanked their former school - the Edinburgh College of Art – for helping them on their way to glory.
Will said: “I’m shocked. It was pretty mad but excellent fun. The win will make a huge difference for work. We are obviously working on projects, so we can keep doing that.
“The reaction from my family – I couldn’t get any sense from my parents, they were so excited. I got to shake Stephen Fry’s hand, so I am quite pleased.”
The Making of Longbird is a 15-minute half-animation, half-live action feature which follows Will as he struggles to make a movie about Longbird, an animated Russian bird from 1911.
The movie – Will’s graduation film from the Edinburgh College of Art – has been shown at 40 events around the world and won 20 prizes at festivals including those held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stuttgart, Annecy and Brooklyn before the Bafta accolade.
Originally from Dingwall in the Highlands, Will moved to the capital to study at the city’s College of Art at the end of high school.
Now 23, the director is hoping to establish his work – which is predominantly adult comedy and features several talking animals – on Scottish television. He is currently in discussion with broadcasters about a sitcom and a sketch show featuring some his characters.
Watch Will and Ainslie's acceptance speech and an interview with Zoe Ball after winning the Bafta. Copyright - Bafta
Will said: “Longbird can now go up online soon so everyone can see it. It is not available online yet, because of festivals but the sooner that everyone can see it the better. It will probably happen in the next few months, but hopefully sooner than that.
“This was a graduation film. It went straight from school, got nominated for a Bafta and it won it. That blows my mind. If I can do it, then anyone can do it.
“We will get back to work now. We will hand back the kilts – we just hired them, we are not that flush yet.”
Ainslie and Will met while studying at the Edinburgh College of Art. They now work together in a studio in Meadowbank.
Ainslie co-wrote Longbird and his win in London is not the first time he has enjoyed success at the Baftas. Last year he picked up the New Talent prize at the Scottish Baftas for his animated feature It’s About Spending Time Together.
The 33-year-old, who grew up in Denholm in the Scottish Borders before moving to Edinburgh eight years ago, said: “My head is still spinning. I feel very proud and grateful to be part of it. We had fun, we took our girlfriends with us. We had a really good laugh.”
Ainslie Henderson (second left) and Will Anderson were joined by their girlfriends Gillian Alan (left) and Cat Bruce at the Baftas in London
The quartet travelled down from Scotland on Friday and enjoyed the Bafta nominees party on Saturday before the big event on Sunday, followed by an after party at the Grosvenor Hotel.
“We also met George Clooney,” said Ainslie.
“When we gathered together on the stage to have a photo of the winners, Clooney was reluctant to stand at the front so he was insistent he wanted to stand at the back behind us.
“It was a bit of a weird feeling. I’m not much of a celebrity spotter. I am quite happy to chill with my friends.”
Ainslie enjoyed meeting his fellow nominees in the categories for short films and short animation.
“The after party was pretty swanky,” he added.
“We were treated well. There were people stealing the place mats at the end of the meal. I had my place mat stolen before I realised what was going on. I need to be quicker. I need to learn these tricks, but I will know next time.”
Ainslie is enjoying plaudits at the moment for his Edinburgh School of Art graduation film I Am Tom Moody. The animated feature is voiced by The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean star, Mackenzie Crook.
Just 11 years ago he starred in the first season of Fame Academy and finished fourth in the show, which was won by fellow Scot David Sneddon. His debut single, Keep Me a Secret, reached number five in the UK charts.
When he was at the Baftas he met a friendly face from his time on the reality show.
He said: “I met Zoe Ball at the nominees’ party. I met her years ago, right after Fame Academy, and I wasn’t very happy then.
“At that time, Zoe bounced up to me in a night club and said she liked me. It was such a lovely thing to happen. She is really bright, chirpy. I thanked her for being kind to me ten years ago.”
So with the Baftas gone for another year, what now for Ainslie?
“Go back to work, get on with it and keep focused on what we are doing,” he said.
“Will and I are writing a short film together at the moment called Monkey Love Experiment. We have a lot to be getting on with. The Bafta win can’t hurt our chances. It is a bit of a whirlwind.”