Oscar winner mentors Swinburne animation students

Thursday 17 August 2017

Adam Elliot and some of his claymation characters.

Academy Award winner Adam Elliot is mentoring Swinburne animation students throughout 2017

In summary

  • Adam Elliot is working closely with Swinburne animation students and staff
  • The first Charles Herschell Industry Fellow to be focused on animation
  • Delivered a public lecture on his journey to animation success   

On the same day animator Adam Elliot received a letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister for winning an Academy Award, he also received a letter from Centrelink cancelling his unemployment benefits.

The letter said that during the week when he attended the Oscars, he was meant to go to a Centrelink seminar on ‘what to wear at a job interview’ and ‘how to write a résumé’, Mr Elliot told attendees at a public lecture.

“I tore that letter up and I have not been back to Centrelink since.”

Adam Elliot delivering a lecture at Swinburne.

The lecture delivered at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, titled ‘From Centrelink to the Academy Awards—An Animated Journey’, saw Mr Elliot talk of his struggles to make a living before the success of ‘Harvie Krumpet’ for which he was awarded an Academy Award.  

It was given as part of his role as the Charles Herschell Industry Fellow for 2017.

A valuable mentor

As the Charles Herschell Industry Fellow, Mr Elliot has been working closely with final year Bachelor of Animation students, sharing his expert knowledge and extensive experience working within the global film and animation industries.

“At first I was seen as a bit of an anomaly from the students, but they now treat me like any of their other teachers,” says Mr Elliot.

“I’m there not only to help with their work but to help give them career advice and inform them on how the industry is changing.”

A still from Mary and Max

Mr Elliot has a long history of writing, producing and directing animation in Australia, and while his speciality is stop motion animation, he believes the most important thing to teach students is the art of storytelling.

“No matter what style of animation the students are working on, the storytelling is the most important part,” he says.

And while technology may constantly be changing, at the end of the day “a computer is just a very complicated pencil” he says.

Swinburne gets animated  

“This is the first year that the fellowship is focusing on animated filmmaking,” says Steven Murdoch, Acting Department Chair of Film and Animation and Course Director of Bachelor of Animation.

“It’s different to many industry engagements in the sector as it is not based on discrete visits and masterclasses or one-off seminars, but ongoing engagement and forging deep relationships with students built up through weekly sessions and production mentorship,” says Mr Murdoch.

The Charles Herschell Industry Fellow is named after Charles Herschell, an Australian film pioneer whose production company was responsible for producing many of the most important Australian films released in the first half of the 20th century.

Mr Elliot will continue to work with Swinburne students and staff in his role until February 2018.