Griffith Film School, Hugo Weaving team for animated short about autism
According to Griffith Film School Deputy Head Trish FitzSimons, the best thing Griffith can do for its students is obvious: "Help them get a job related to the multiple screen industries in the period immediately after graduation, so they can keep learning new skills, networking and finding role models of both genders."
To that end, GFS is focussing on work-integrated learning during undergraduate, partly via LiveLab, the school's commercial production arm.
"LiveLab employs the strongest of our recent graduates and other professionals to work with current students to make commissioned content," FitzSimons told IF.
LiveLab's Creative Director is Richard Fabb, who worked as a TV producer for 25 years before joining GFS at the end of 2014 and spearheading its latest project: an animated short about autism, fronted by none other than Hugo Weaving.
"We were approached by Gold Coast Health in May 2015 to make a short animated film about autism, with Sentis," said Fabb.
"One of Sentis's staff, William Greenwood, had a son, Ky, who had autism. William is the brother-in-law of Hugo Weaving, and Ky is Hugo's nephew. Hugo was attached to do the voiceover."
"We attached two students from our Honours program: animator Ashely Spiteri and screenwriter Ruth Griffin. They worked developing the script and doing initial art and character work."
Fabb also brought in Luke Harris, an animator and motion-graphic designer he'd previously worked with on Hungry Beast at the ABC.
"We realised we could do more, and potentially reach a wider audience, by bringing Hugo in front of the camera too. There was a family connection and it seemed best if we made that personal connection clear."
"So we asked Hugo and he thankfully said yes. He came to Brisbane and we shot a live-action top and tail to the film with Hugo and Ky, bringing in a full studio crew, led by one of our best student directors Cameron March."
"At this point it was clear we had something rather special and we needed to ensure we did the best possible job – so Luke and his company, Hotel Lima, took a more hands-on approach, managing the completion of the project, and bringing in a GFS alumna Alexis Dean-Jones to complete the animation. Plus Ack Kinmonth to compose the score and David Williams for sound design."
The process ended up taking 14 months, and Fabb said the team is proud of the result: "The film was designed to raise awareness of autism and improve understanding and the film is freely available": watch Hugo Weaving, animated, above.