Students shoot passion project with screen icon Hugo Weaving

Griffith Film School student Brendan Schoenmaker with Ky Greenwood and Hugo Weaving. Photo credit: Samuel Vayro Media

Griffith Film School students have reunited with renowned Aussie actor Hugo Weaving for a follow-up to their 2016 collaboration, Living with Autism: Ky’s Story, which attracted millions of views on social media.

A labour of love

The film was shot at Griffith Film School using state-of-the-art equipment.

The original film followed Hugo and his 16-year-old nephew Ky Greenwood, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The project was deeply personal for Weaving, whose screen credits include Lord of the Rings, The Matrix trilogy and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Blending live action sequences with cutting-edge animation, the film helped raise awareness of the disorder and was made available as a free resource for organisations working with autism.

Three years on, the Greenwood family approached Griffith Film School to produce two further films. One documents Ky’s inspiring journey into adulthood and the other focuses on his sister Jorja, and her story about growing up as the sibling of someone with ASD.

‘It’s an honour to tell the next chapter of Ky’s story’

Student director Brendan Schoenmaker and Hugo Weaving run through the script before the shoot.

Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production student Brendan Schoenmaker wrote and directed the live action sequences and said it was an honour to tell the next chapter of Ky’s story.

“It was a little nerve-wracking working with someone of Hugo’s calibre, but he is very kind and very unassuming,” he said.

“It was also amazing working with Ky and watching his confidence grow throughout the shoot – I think he had a blast.

“I hope these films continue to inspire and help other families.”

‘Griffith Film School has been a wonderful partner’

Ky’s father William Greenwood helped get the project off the ground, and paid tribute to the professionalism of the crew from Griffith Film School.

“We had such a great response to the first film, and there is no one else we would have considered entrusting with our story,” he said.

“Griffith Film School has been a wonderful partner on this project and the students are really invested – I know Hugo was really impressed by their drive and passion.”

Industry collaboration

The films were produced through LiveLab, which is the commercial production arm of the Griffith Film School in Brisbane. Griffith is the only university in Australia with a permanent in-house commercial studio.

Cast and crew at Griffith Film School.

Brendan Schoenmaker said LiveLab had given him endless opportunities, including directing a music video with actor and comedian Matt Okine.

“For me, it’s been dream come true after dream come true,” he said.

LiveLab Creative Director Richard Fabb said it was vital to offer students year-round opportunities to gain industry experience while they studied.

“We want to encourage our students to dream big and see that these things are possible,” he said.

“Projects like this are a fantastic opportunity for our students, offering industry collaboration on an important social issue.

“Our mission is to create engaging and creative content with an emotional punch – I think this one ticks all the boxes.”