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Orbital 'Smiley' by Luke Losey

David Knight - 1st Aug 2022

Luke Losey reunites with the Hartnoll brothers to brilliantly evoke the spirit of original rave culture, and its anti-authoritarian roots, in the video for Smiley.

Losey has painstakingly created the most imaginative and entertaining form of history lesson - with a few imaginative liberties taken - through an amalgamation of techniques: including hand-crafted sock puppets, high end CGI, background stock footage, live action elements, stills and stop motion animation.

It's all for the purpose of telling the story of those illegal raves in the late 1980s, that exploited the opening of that brand new motorway from which the Hartnoll brothers took the name, for their own DJ performances, and created a brave new world of dance culture.

With a soundtrack that includes clips from radio news reports of the era, there is brilliant and affectionate attention to detail here amid the thrills and excitement. And crucially, it also captures that real level of antithesis towards the forces of power - personified in Margaret Thatcher. And she turns up here - a compellingly monstrous Iron Lady, aiming to smash up the party.

But in this version of events - which involves unicorns and aliens - there is a happy ending... 

“There was a moment in the late 1980’s that bridged the gap between free festivals and big raves,” says Luke Losey. “These events had a strong DIY ethos that was a kindred spirit to punk. We would go and put great big metal sculptures in the woods or perhaps an abandoned railway station, hang a few lights and power up a sound system.

"That handmade DIY feel of the time was something we wanted to imbue into the film from the start. But also the sense of unity that existed amongst us, despite Thatcher’s authoritarian desire to sew division, divide and conquer, with her foot soldiers in blue and her red-tops with their morally dubious claim to offer a better version of Britain than the one we could clearly see unraveling before our eyes.

"Hindsight has given us the opportunity to rectify past misdeeds with the happy ending we didn’t get at the time. No unicorns were hurt in the making of this film.”

David Knight - 1st Aug 2022


  • Animation
  • Director's notes
  • Narrative
  • Pick of the Day
  • Dance
  • Electronic
  • Rave Culture

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Luke Losey
Luke Losey
Production Company
Antonym Films


Director of Photography
Andrew Robinson


Animation Director
Tim Varlow
Vittoria Belli
Gogoull K
Animation Company


Laura Kelly


Marlo Plowden
Tim Varlow
Puppet Design
Hannah Draper
Vittoria Belli

David Knight - 1st Aug 2022

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