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By Anthony Carroll
Friday, October 12, 2012
THEY are a part of any film or television programme series that many of us can take for granted.
But title sequences are a crucial element of any production and a former Lowestoft man is now among the best in the business when it comes to creating eye-catching designs that help to draw in viewers.
Nic Benns, 39, is celebrating after winning a prestigious Emmy award in America for his evocative titles for the recent BBC TV adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic novel Great Expectations, .
His opening sequences were based on a butterfly – indicating how the main character Pip had his life transformed after meeting the convict Magwitch and the mournful Miss Havisham, played by Gillian Anderson.
After leaving Lowestoft College in the early 1990s as a graphic design student, Nic has forged career in film and television on both sides of the Atlantic, establishing himself as one of the top titles producers.
The work of the former Harris Middle and Denes High School pupil should be well known to Journal readers as he has designed main titles for the BBC crime series Luther, the C4 sci-fi comedy Misfits, the action drama Strike Back and the films Love Actually, Alien Vs Predator, 30 Days of Night and An Education among others.
Nic is hoping that his Emmy for outstanding main title design will help him to secure even more high-profile projects, working from the headquarters of his London-based company Momoco. He said: “The Emmys are highly regarded and this will give us more exposure – it gives the company more artillery, so to speak.”
At the glittering Emmy awards event in Los Angeles, Nic sat on a table next to Back to the Future star Michael J Fox. And he also had to get used to how Americans like to run their awards ceremonies.
He said: “When you go up to get your award you have 45 seconds from leaving your seat to finishing your speech! But I did manage to thank everyone who had worked on the titles and helped.”
After leaving Lowestoft College, Nic won a scholarship to study at the California Institute of Arts and then worked in LA before moving to London. Other films and programmes he has worked on include Johnny English, the Day of the Triffids, Monroe, Fresh Meat, Episodes and the new ITV1 drama DCI Banks.
His company also does work on commercials and music videos.
Before developing a title sequence, Nic usually gets to see a rough version of the film or TV programmes he is creating them for – and he is sworn to secrecy not to reveal its contents. In America he can have up to about six months to create titles, while in Britain he often has a much tighter deadline of two or threee weeks.
Nic, who regularly returns to Lowestoft to visit his family, said: “I try and get into the world of the film or TV show and then create story-boards. It’s all about capturing the essence of the production and creating a sequence to draw people in.”
Nic’s titles for Strike Back were also nominated for an Emmy in the outstanding main titles category and in Britain his work on Misfits led to a Bafta nomination.