Billi Productions Ltd is an independent film company, based in Glasgow, Scotland that was set up by husband and wife producing team Sascha and Tessa Hartmann in 2006 to house Scotland's first full length animated feature film entitled 'Sir Billi'.
What started life as a short film concept in 2006 had progressed into a full length feature starring one of the most legendary voices in Hollywood, iconic Scot, Sir Sean Connery who joined the producers as a business partner in this exciting venture.
The Hartmann's founded Glasgow Animation Ltd in 2000, the production hub that would produce Scotland's first foray into the industry sector. This small privately owned animation studio were specialists in 3D character development and created the UK's first virtual pop artist 'T-Babe' in the same year.
The 3D virtual cyber sensation became an overnight success and graced magazines across Europe, hailed as 'Europe's Lara Croft'. She was named 'Most beautiful cyber chick in the world' by Italy's Cosmopolitan Magazine, earned a Top 20 UK single chart position and even interviewed The Duchess of York for UK television, thanks to the special effects from GA. Her popularity remained so high that in 2008 T-Babe was included in E Entertainment's 'Top 20 Cyber Girls of the decade', featuring on an E television special, broadcast in the USA.
It was the 'T-Babe' project that gave this ambitious young company global media awareness, which secured them business sponsorship from high profile software and hardware companies including the formally named SGI and Alias Wavefront. Such significant investment allowed the company to progress the R&D side of the business to specialize in 3D character development and special effects, which ultimately led to their first CGI film production.
In 2004 Sascha co-created the 'Sir Billi' concept with his wife Tessa who penned the screenplay. Taking almost 12 months to illustrate the outline storyboards, Sascha is a perfectionist. It's the originality, depth of character and attention to detail that provides this concept its appealing and distinctive look. He spent months developing in-depth personalities for all the characters before production even began, recalling all those years of learning while studying neuro-psychology at Zurich University, Switzerland. Clearly one of the most important personalities was Sir Billi, voiced by Sir Sean.
Sir Sean said: "I'd been given an early drawing of what Billi would look like and it actually turned out to be spot on. In many ways that helped me to get into the character; but he's a very straightforward, good guy! My wife who adores animation watched the scenes with me and she was laughing away. It really is very funny. One of the things that appealed to me about this project is that it is complete family entertainment."
The project has been financed by one of Scotland's leading industrialists, John Fortune-Fraser, who founded one of the largest Steel Stockholders in Europe, based in Glasgow. Described as a serial entrepreneur, Fraser is producer on the project and is an active mentor to the Hartmann's. "John's entrepreneurial spirit is infectious and his encouragement and belief in this project since it's inception has been rock solid," said Sascha Hartmann.
Founders Sascha and Tessa Hartmann are high profile media figures in Scotland having being cited in many of the countries leading broadsheet newspapers as a 'Power Couple', listed alongside statesman and dignitaries.
They are major supporters of fresh talent and work with a small but key team of young creative's within their business and remained true to their hearts by keeping production in Scotland. Born in Scotland, created for the world is the company motto!