12 animated short films tell the stories of Richard Branson’s adventures

12 animated short films tell the stories of Richard Branson’s adventures

“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”

This is the opening line to the introductory animation that Paper Sky Films developed for Richard Branson; a quote that the Virgin founder lives by.

Paper Sky Films teamed up with Virgin in 2021 to create twelve animated short films, each telling individual stories following Richard Branson’s adventures, explorations and record-breaking feats throughout his life and career via balloons, boats and spaceships.

From jumping off a building in Las Vegas to landing in the middle of a civil war in a hot air balloon to kitesurfing the English Channel; Richard Branson wanted to bring his experiences to life through animated story-telling, which will be narrated by himself in Dr Seuss-style rhyme.

Every film seeks to entertain and inspire younger audiences, in hopes to ignite their own imaginations and curiosities about the world around them and to welcome potential adventures in their lives.

In his own words, Richard Branson tells the stories behind his great adventures, so far.

I have always gone in search of adventures because it’s where I feel most alive.

The spirit of adventure has changed my life in so many ways – it has helped me to build businesses, meet brilliant people, stretch my mind, and discover new perspectives. Most importantly it has helped me discover my limits – and to go beyond them.

I have been fortunate to explore the world (and beyond) by balloons, boats and spaceships – but I always come home to quite a few questions from my grandchildren. Why did you do that? What happened? Did it hurt? Can I have a go?

From jumping off a building in Las Vegas to ballooning around the world to kitesurfing the English Channel – there are so many stories from over the years which bring a smile to people’s faces when I tell them.

I wanted to bring my experiences to life in a format that my grandkids could watch and share and hopefully be a little inspired to go off on their own adventures too. I hope their lives are filled with as many types of different experiences and adventures as possible (though hopefully, less near-death experiences). Here is the first in our series of 12 animations, which we’ll be releasing week by week – so stay tuned for more.

Life is an adventure

Over the holidays, I showed the short animations we have made about my adventures to my grandchildren. They loved watching and were bursting with questions afterwards. Hopefully the films inspire curiosity and a spirit of adventure in you too – whether you are young or young at heart.

Ballooning across the Atlantic

I’ve always lived by the idea that when you’re given a great opportunity in life, say yes and figure out how to do it later! 

The second adventure animation in this series recounts my very first ballooning expedition in 1987. I was invited to fly across the Atlantic in the biggest balloon every built with a brilliant balloonist called Per Lindstrand. I agreed to the challenge right away, but I had no idea how to fly a balloon!

I had some quick-fire lessons and then followed a hair-raising but incredibly exciting adventure. We also became the first people to ever fly a hot-air balloon across the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll let the animation tell the rest of the story, and I hope it inspires you to say yes more often, and worry about the details later!

The Blue Riband

The greatest sailing award was The Blue Riband. The third animation in our series tells the story of how we tried to take on the toughest challenge on the seven seas in 1985.

It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I’ll never forget the radio call we received on the first night saying that Joan had given birth early and welcomed our son, Sam Branson into the world. I was devastated to miss the birth, but even more determined to make it to the finish line so I could be with my family. Things turned for the worst when we hit a big storm, and a huge wave ripped the hull.

Our boat, the Virgin Atlantic Challenger, began sinking and we had to quickly abandon ship. Thankfully, we were rescued to safety and I raced off to be with my family. As I held Sam for the first time – still soaking wet in my sailing clothes – I knew I was embarking on one of the greatest adventures of all.

Ballooning across the Pacific Ocean

Looking back on my ballooning expedition across the Pacific Ocean… I said I’d never try to break another hot-air balloon record again, but I’m easily persuaded when it comes to new adventures.

Disaster struck before we even took flight, and there were multiple points where I thought we wouldn’t make it. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but we finally made it to land… just 1000 miles off target! This was definitely a case of, “it’s more about the journey than the destination!”

I hope you enjoy and get out there to try something new.

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