Charles Herschel Fellow Adam Elliot mentoring animation at Swinburne

Thursday 30 November 2017

Adam Elliot with two of his characters

Students are talented putty in the hands of a Swinburne global film industry mentor

In summary

  • This article originally featured in Swinburne’s Venture magazine
I'm not teaching nuts and bolts. What I'm really focusing on is story and script.

Oscar-winning animator Adam Elliot has spent 2017 inspiring a new generation of animators. “What I’ve really enjoyed is seeing them become more and more passionate about the art form and seeing them develop in just one year,” he says. Mr Elliot is Swinburne’s Charles Herschell Fellow in Residence, sharing his knowledge of the global film and animation industries with final-year Bachelor of Animation students.

“What’s really nice is seeing all their hard work over the year coming together,” he says. “I feel like the proud grandfather.”

Mr Elliot, whose “clayography” Harvie Krumpet won an Academy Award in 2004 for Best Animated Short Film, is working as a guide and mentor. “I’m not teaching nuts and bolts. What I’m really focusing on is story and script.”

He has found it rewarding to share his insights. “Swinburne is keen on getting more practitioners in the industry to bring authentic skills to the students, so they are more prepared when they graduate. We can feed them some harsh realities, tell them about the state of the funding bodies, where money is coming from. I’ve realised there’s a lot more in my head than I thought I had.”

Mr Elliot has told the students – who are doing a mix of computer animated, 2D and his specialty “stop motion” short films – that being an animation director is a lot of hard work, but that the rewards are there. He is impressed with the mentoring program at Swinburne.

“The strength is the diversity of animation they’re teaching,” he says. “Animation is so broad now. This school tries to pack in as much as they can in those three years so they have a broad experience.”

Mr Elliot says he has sounded notes of caution about job opportunities in Australia. “The industry is changing so rapidly that a lot of positive things are happening but funding is being reduced for short films. That’s a harsh reality.”

The good news though is that there are options in Australia in fields away from film. “Animation is so broad,” Mr Elliot says. “It could include jobs in areas such as advertising and TV series. There are also opportunities in areas such as special effects, visual effects, virtual reality and gaming.”

There are also good opportunities overseas. “They could head off and work for Pixar, Animal Logic, those sorts of companies. The good thing is they’ll have a skill set that can take them anywhere in the world. The world is their oyster.”