Griffith Film School (GFS) and the ABC have joined forces with the family of late GFS alumnus Kieran Ricketts to launch a scholarship for aspiring filmmakers.

Up and coming documentary filmmaker Eyasu Churchwill receive the first Kieran Ricketts Scholarship in Film and Screen Media, to support him throughout his Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production degree at Griffith Film School.

It also includes an internship opportunity at the ABC, a place where Kieran made a name for himself as a producer on a host of projects including Q&A, Hungry Beast, Big Ideas and ABC News 24.

A fitting tribute

Kieran’s mother, Ann Ricketts, said the family was pleased the scholarship would honour his passion for storytelling.

“This has been a long time in the making, but we are so pleased that the two organisations Kieran had so much passion for will continue to honour him in the years to come,” she said.

“His desire to tell the stories that needed to be told will be carried on by other talented filmmakers.

“We recognise many of the attributes that made Kieran special in Eyasu.”

Honouring an outstanding alumnus

Griffith Film School senior lecturer Richard Fabb said the scholarship was a fitting tribute to an outstanding alumnus.

“We will work with the Ricketts family to ensure those who benefit from the scholarship emulate Kieran’s strong work ethic, creative spirit and innovative mindset,” he said.

“He will always be a cherished member of the Griffith film community and have a hand in the work of those who follow in his footsteps.”

Kieran studied a Bachelor of Communication in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, before completing his screen production major at Griffith Film School.

Making a difference

ABC News Director Gaven Morris said the scholarship honoured Kieran’s desire to make a difference in the world.

“Kieran was an extremely talented and committed journalist, a well-liked and respected colleague, and a lovely bloke,” he said.

“He was a highly creative person with huge energy and a passion for storytelling, and his film school background informed and enriched his work.

“From when he was young Kieran said that he wanted to add to the world – he did, and he still does.

“I think he would be glad that continues through another film school student getting a helping hand in his name.”

A helping hand

Inaugural scholarship recipient Eyasu Church said he was “over the moon”.

“I still don’t think it has sunk in,” he said.

“This is a massive weight off my shoulders and will really allow me to focus on my studies and building my career.

“I’m the first male in my family to attend Uni, so coming to film school is already a big deal. Knowing that I have extra support along the way is a huge comfort.”

A remarkable journey

The young filmmaker has had an incredible journey to film school.

Born in Ethiopia, Eyasu and two of his siblings were placed in an orphanage after his widowed mother struggled to support the family single-handed.

At the age of four, he was adopted by an Australian couple, along with his older brother and sister.

Football became a way for Eyasu to retain ties to his homeland and settle into his adopted country.

In high school, the promising athlete created his own YouTube channel posting freestyle football tutorials.

Within months, he was collaborating with companies like Adidas and PlayStation and being flown around the country for product launches and events.

Telling the stories that matter

The aspiring filmmaker wanted to hone his craft, and decided to pursue the love of shooting and editing he first discovered while creating content for YouTube.

“My YouTube channel allowed me to combine my two great passions – football and filmmaking,” he said.

“But I realised I was more interested in being behind the camera.

“I’d like to make documentaries that tap into my personal history.

“I have a lot of friends who came to Australia as refugees, and I’m keen to tell their stories.”

For more information on supporting students at Griffith Film School, click here.