How a Brisbane student put himself (and his mum) in the middle of the Oscars party

Ten months of painstaking stop-motion animation work has led to a coveted Oscar nomination for a 26 year old Brisbane university student.

Feb 14, 2023, updated Feb 14, 2023
Animator Lachlan Pendragon with one of his animated characters, in his mother's living room). Image: Supplied

Animator Lachlan Pendragon with one of his animated characters, in his mother's living room). Image: Supplied

When the pandemic took hold, Lachlan Pendragon took over his mother’s living room and transformed it into a makeshift studio for his studies and animation dreams.

Little did either of them know the short film he created from that time would be up for the one of the industry’s most prestigious honours, nominated for an Academy Award in the Short Film (Animated) category only a couple of years later.

“It’s been doing a year of festivals like all last year, and sort of slowly gathering momentum,” Pendragon said.

“At the end of last year with the Student Academy Awards it won gold for animation – and so to be then in the big Oscars, the actual ones, is a miracle really. It’s amazing.”

What started as part of his Griffith University Film School PhD project, has since propelled Pendragon’s creation around the world, garnering a string of awards for the highly imaginative and often hysterical An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It.

He never dreamed the accolades could go even higher, as it’s so rare for a student work to become an Oscar nominee.

“It’s really unlikely,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll have one of the student ones make it onto the short list, which is the top 15, but I haven’t heard of someone getting onto the nominated list – it’s very rare for that to happen.”

He hopes his experience sets fire to the creative spark in other creatives to realise that an indie project such as his, that starts small, can become such a success.

“I hope that inspires people to think, oh yeah, it’s possible for anyone. The resources are there and you can do a lot with very little,” he said.

“From a student perspective it’s kind of fine if the film isn’t successful, you know, you can still write about it and learn from it.

“It’s not something that you aim for and then this happens and it’s like, oh my gosh, this is beyond anything you can think of.”

The characters in what has now become known as “Ostrich” to his family and friends, had been bubbling around in Pendragon’s mind for three years before he started the intricate stop motion animation process in the living room.

He’s enjoyed exploring the creative tension between the old techniques and the new approaches to stop motion animation.

“There’s a lot of new technologies that you can use now,” he said. “3D printing, motion control rigs, and differing sort of puppet animation techniques are getting more and more sophisticated.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“But then with that comes the questions of, ok, if I can print anything, what do I want stop motion to look like? If you’re not careful, it can suddenly not look as handmade as it once was.

“For me, that’s a lot of the charm of stop motion comes from that, seeing the fingerprints and those recognisable materials.

“Then on the other side of things, computer animation is getting very good at mimicking stop motion aesthetics. So it’s sort of this interesting time where, yeah, you’ve got a question, what am I getting into? What is stop motion going to look like in 20 years?”

In the midst of all the excitement of his Oscars nom, there’s the small technicality of a PhD to complete.

His research explores how stop motion animation has changed since the creations such as Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run movies, which were his inspiration to become an animator while growing up.

“There’s also the research side of it. I’ve got to write my thesis that accompanies the film,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of potential in stop motion and there’s a lot of stuff that’s yet to be explored. And so that’s part of my research with the film was just to explore a different kind of take on a `stop-mo’ film. It deconstructs the process of how it was made. So I think that makes it really fun and kind of gives the audience an idea of what went into making the film.”

For now, Lachlan’s attention is diverted to picking his outfit for the red carpet and organising other logistics of his Academy Awards adventure. And his mother’s dedication to letting him take over the living room for so long will be rewarded.

“I’ll bring my Mum with me. I made the film in my Mum’s living room, so it seems only fair. I had to bring her along,” he said.

“There’s a few events in the week leading up to the Oscars itself and the Governor’s ball afterwards, which is pretty nice.”

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy