2021 BUFTA Winner – Ryan Thwaite

Ryan Thwaite of Palm Beach Currumbin High School (QLD) received the Best Overall Filmmaker Award for his film ‘Veronica’.

Ryan has been awarded a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond University.

A big congratulations goes out to Ryan!


How did you hear about BUFTA and why did you decide to enter the competition?

I took home a couple of booklets from a university presentation day at school. I knew I wanted to do something creative and was leaning towards film the most. The book said to apply for scholarships, so I found BUFTA through a google search.


What was the most rewarding experience you gained from the BUFTA experience?

Meeting all the teachers and students. They were so nice and welcoming, and they made the experience really enjoyable.


What is your favourite film genre and why?

Science Fiction films like “Interstellar”, “Resident Evil” and “The Hunger Games”. I like the genre most, as it doesn’t feel too far from reality. I enjoy seeing how technology/governments could go bad, and watching people fight themselves out of bad/dystopian situations.


How long did your film ‘VERONICA’ take to make from start to finish?

I started in the middle of April and finished at the start of September. It didn’t seem like that much work when spread over a long period. I would just slowly chip away at it for a few hours each day, where I would usually be on my phone or watching TV. There was an entire month I barely did any work on it, until I realised the deadline was coming up — that’s when I panicked and had to knuckle down and get it done. The sound took a long time too because I tried to match a sound effect to every little movement.


What challenges did you encounter producing the film? How did you overcome them?

Editing in iMovie – when I hit a certain number of video files, the app would crash. I worked around this, however, when I started adding sounds, the app overloaded, and every single sound fell out of sync. I ended up spending $50 to get a better app, called ‘Lumafusion’, which improved the quality of the film, allowing me to add effects like steam and mist, and to adjust the saturation and brightness of colours.


What is your ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal would be to help design and build the settings, props, and costumes on live-action films. I think it would be rewarding to conceptualize things in a studio/office type environment, and then to go out and build them for real, and see the ideas come to life. I’d like to be outside a lot, travelling to different places and seeing different things.

I’d love to stay in Australia. Hopefully Gold Coast will become a film hotspot, and there’ll be job opportunities at places like Village Roadshows. It would be so cool to work there, on the same stages they created sets for Aquaman and Thor.


 Do you have any advice/tips and tricks for future BUFTA entrants?

Once you’ve finished your film, get your family and friends to watch it and give you feedback. Make sure they can follow what is happening, and that everything makes sense. Parts you think make sense may not translate to the screen.

Try to make your film short and concise. Cut down the overall time at the end by finding moments audiences may get bored. Maybe get family and friends to help with this too.

(These were the areas my film fell short, but I could have fixed with hindsight)


What are you most looking forward to about starting at Bond University?

I’m excited to have electives that are completely design/art/film oriented, as opposed to high school, where you do a broad range of subjects. I want to try everything and see what I like the best.


What is the biggest/most important thing you learned from the BUFTA competition and process?

The most important thing I improved on was problem solving. Besides the technical problems I faced, the bigger issue was the time restraints, and that I had to complete the workload entirely on my own. I got faster at animation as I went along by using the technology to its greatest potential and finding innovative shortcuts for each stage in the process:

storyboarding -> lines  -> solid colour  -> shadows  -> texture  -> gradient mapping

Gradient mapping was the most important shortcut I found. To begin with, I coloured each frame in shades of grey (only worried about getting a strong contrast). Then, with the Procreate app, a colour would be assigned to each shade of grey. I would apply the same formula to colourise each frame of the animation.


What inspired you to pursue film and television?

Film encompasses everything I like — English, design, art… and there just seems to be so many fields within it, which I think would make every workday new and exciting. It’s really important for me to find a job that I enjoy.


What was the inspiration behind ‘VERONICA’?

I admire the style of the scary stop-motion films made by Laika and Tim Burton. As opposed to other animation companies, they use puppets, and make all their props and settings by hand, and you can tell a lot of artistic thought goes into every little element. I took inspiration from these films to create the overall look of the animation.