On 16th February Melbourne Hunt Sabs released their highly anticipated short animation titled 'Between Hunters and Foxes'. It is a gripping and compelling piece which documents not only the birth of fox hunting in Australia but highlights the brave work of saboteurs who disrupt the hunts and save wildlife. Directed and produced by London based animator Ben Sinclair, it has received much deserved recognition with it being chosen as one of Animalis Fabula's animation short selections, scoring an impressive judge's aggregate score of 9.4 out of 10.

Still taken from Between Foxes and Hunters

Our thoughts on the piece -

Between Hunters and Foxes is a truly cinematic and powerful short film. It evokes emotion from the viewer and captures the sheer barbarity of hunting but does so without the use of graphic imagery and this is what gives it such impact. The use of colour contrast combined with the stunning flow of scenes tells a story that cannot be ignored.

It portrays not only the experience of the fox and the terrified state of being it finds itself in but also illustrates what it means to be a hunt saboteur. This short animation will prove vital in telling the story of a cruel and barbaric pastime that somehow continues to take place in the 21st Century.

Ben has done a superb job in producing and directing something that will be seen by thousands of people and it will undoubtedly inspire many to take up the fight against wildlife persecution not only in Australia but worldwide. Indeed the message from this animation is universal and something which can be appreciated by all ages. There is no place for fox hunting in any society and we look forward to Ben's upcoming projects which seek to push the boundaries in how animal cruelty is depicted through film.

Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs - Fox hunting in Australia + what it means to be a hunt saboteur

Sadly fox hunting with hounds operates almost identical to the UK. Apart from the seasons and landscape. Twice a week you'll find a pack of hounds, riders and red coats, out for day of vandalising our countryside. From the formation of riders and hounds, to the use of the hunting horn and whips and hunt support.
Sadly our hunters, will travel to the UK to hunt in the UK season, as our season ends when the UK season starts.

The importance of people seeing the animation is to raise awareness that this cruel and barbaric tradition exists here in Australia. Most people believe this hunting is only appearing in the UK. There are over 20 hunt clubs in Australia,with Melbourne hosting 80% of them.

Sadly, the fox was introduced to Australia from British settlers for the sole purpose of hunting. Our hunt clubs and hound packs can be traced to certain bloodlines in the UK.

If you're thinking about joining a local sab group then you're on the right path.
We are associated with the Hunt Saboteurs Association, and encourage any Australians to head to the HSA website and our own social media to join us in the fields.
Sydney Hunt Saboteurs are up and running for this season and we will be out in the fields together this season...did someone say sab road trip!!!

Wherever hunting exists, so will hunt sabotage.

We caught up with Ben Sinclair regarding his vision for the film and his future aspirations

"I wanted this film to immerse people in the true nature of hunting, by showing it intimately from the perspective of the fox. This is something that's so hard to capture in real life footage, but animation allows me to reveal the true extent of the trauma that a fox endures - from the haunting noise of the horn, to the fear of being cornered by a pack of dogs.
Animator Ben Sinclair

What was the purpose of the animation?

These hunting tactics and traditions are practically identical in both the UK and Australia, and so by showing it in intimate detail, I might be able to deter people from ever supporting such cruelty. But by having a happy ending, I could also help promote those that are courageously working directly to stop this sport - The Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs and all other sab groups.

What are your future plans in animation?

Most of my work centres around wildlife and nature, as I believe its the most important topic to talk about at the moment, considering the state of our planet. Spreading awareness and empathy for the natural world is so essential to helping it, as that motivates people to make a difference -without that drive, environmental issues won't be tackled. I hope 'Between Hunters and Foxes' spreads that awareness and empathy for the fox, and drives people to help groups like the MHS and stop this antiquated sport. 

Can we expect to see more from you?

Going forward, I've got another film in the works for the Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs centred around the fox scalp bounty scheme in Australia. I'll also be creating much more work for animal rights activism and conservation in the future, so stay tuned for more animated wildlife!

If you'd like to check out more of Ben's work you can do so via the links below.

Instagram

Ben's website

Ben's Vimeo

Ben's YouTube

Featured image via - Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs YouTube

Still taken from Between Hunters and Foxes

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban