JMC Animation Alumni Tom Fisher has just had his short screenplay picked up by film students in New York, who have been filming it in Manhattan!
PENZAI from RDA Productions on Vimeo.
We spoke to Tom about his work in Animation, the upcoming film and his time here at JMC, studying under the watchful eye of his uncle, Sydney Head of Animatino and Games Department, Sean Callinan…
How have you been since you left JMC?! What have you been up to?
After meeting their recruiter on my last day at JMC, I started at Iloura Sydney as an Intern Render Wrangler. It’s been amazing to be involved in a world-class VFX pipe.
While doing the Story II unit (now Visual Storytelling II) we know you wrote a short screenplay which garnered interest from some film students in New York, and is now getting made into a film, how do you feel about that!?
I’m stoked - I just put it online for some broader feedback, and a few weeks later these NY Film Academy guys wanted to pick it up. It’s been a slow road, but a trailer just went up at penzaifilm.com and they’re going to all the major festivals. I originally wrote it set in Ultimo and Chinatown, but they shot in Manhattan which looks even cooler. They’ve got name actors and they’ve buffed out the story with more characters - it looks pretty classy.
What made you want to study Animation?
A passion for the fantastic, sci-fi, superheroes - it’s a kind of modern mythology, a way to express humanity in the most imaginative way. Likewise, CGI in general is an incredible technology - essentially a simulator of physical reality - it’s a marriage of art and engineering, a new frontier. Also, cartoons are funny.
What was your favourite part of the Animation course at JMC?
Well the lecturers would have to be the best thing about it - the Screenwriting unit with Tone Egan taught me enough to write a production-worthy script first-go - The VFX unit with Ian Brown, he de-mystified the gap between filming live-action footage and integrating CGI - Getting to pick these people’s brains, and have them go over your work is the real value of going to college in the first place.
You’re Uncle, Sean Callinan is the head of the Animation department at JMC Sydney, where you studied. How was it studying under your uncle!?
Sean is really in his element as a Head of Department - he always encouraged us to think around our problems, get creative about things, especially in the classes he actually taught like Screen Language and Animation History. He pulled me out of a few tricky situations and was a big part of me making it to the end. I think every Animation student at JMC would say the same about him too.
What was the most important thing you learnt during your time at JMC?
How important it is to really engage with the content, understand what you’re learning at a clinical level, and not to just do something once - do it over and over. Animation in general, let alone 3D, is such a huge and complicated thing that no single person can ever know it all. For most students, it would be wise to choose focus early on, be it Animation, Rigging, FX, whatever - you’ll be better off at the end if you’re red-hot at a particular thing, and can confidently say “I’m a *insert profession here*!” Degrees are important, and prove dedication to your craft… but nothing says ‘hire me!’ more confidently than a showreel with impressive work.
How did your studies at JMC help you to get a job after you graduated?
Pretty directly - my final unit at JMC was called Portfolio, taught by Pauline Piper. The final assessment was to have a mock interview with the lecturer… but Pauline had the idea of inviting her contacts from local studios to meet the students. We all prepared a showreel and CV and met with people from Animal Logic, Fin Studios, Hackett Films, and Iloura, who were in the hiring stages for a feature film project. A month later I was in the chair, catching images for Hollywood-grade VFX shots.
What do you hope to be doing in 5 years?
I hope to progress to a CG or VFX supervisor over the next few years, then eventually go full James Cameron and direct my own sci-fi features.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 objects would you want with you?
I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries and a coke thanks.
We wish Tom the best of luck in future endeavours and can’t wait to see his film in all it’s final glory!
To find out more about the animation course click here…