Film alumni create homegrown animated superhero movie

Griffith Film School alumni Ricard Cusso (L) and Ryan Greaves (R) with fellow Griffith Film School alumnus Rhiannon Steffensen at the Brisbane International Film Festival

A pair of Griffith Film School alumni are the creative force behind Australia’s latest superhero movie – Combat Wombat.

The film was directed by Griffith Film School (GFS) alumnus Ricard Cussó and co-produced by fellow GFS graduate Ryan Greaves. It is the second of three animated feature films commissioned by Universal Studios.

Combat Wombat had its premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival this month, ahead of a worldwide release in more than 100 countries, and the filmmakers said they had been blown away by the film’s reception by critics and audiences.

Griffith Film School alumnus Ryan Greaves

“I think audiences have really responded to having homegrown content in cinemas,” Ryan said.

“We are proud to be bringing animated features back to Australia, and it is amazing to have our native wildlife as the superheroes of the film.

“We wanted to make a Marvel universe with Aussie animals.”

Ricard and Ryan with cast members Deb Mailman and Ed Oxenbould

The film features the voices of Australian acting luminaries including Deb Mailman, Ed Oxenbould and Judith Lucy and is the first superhero film to feature a female First Nations actor in the lead role.

“It was a huge deal for us to have an Indigenous female lead and Deb Mailman was just a dream to work with – she is the most talented actor and such a kind, generous collaborator.

“This film celebrates our natural environment and it had a diverse cast and creative team – it embodies everything we stand for.”

The talented filmmakers met during at Griffith and are part of the team at Brisbane production powerhouse Like A Photon, which produces critically acclaimed content for children.

Griffith Film School alumnus Ricard Cussó

“We met during our first year at uni, and we’ve worked on every single project together since,” Ricard said.

“It’s an amazing part of the film school experience, finding people you trust and work well with – and now we have three features under our belt.”

Ryan said the pair had employed a raft of Griffith Film School graduates on their trio of animated features.

“We hire so many GFS students and grads – we think it produces some of the best animators and filmmakers in the country.

“One of the best things about film school is the network of collaborators and friends you build.”

The pair are at the forefront of a local animation boom, spearheaded by the team of fellow Griffith Film School graduates who created the smash-hit ABC TV series Bluey.

Ricard said animation was also uniquely placed to benefit from COVID-safe production requirements.

“We were able to complete post-production on our next animated feature from home during the height of COVID,” Ricard said.

“Animation is really well-placed to take advantage of the technology on offer – the voice actors and animators can work remotely and remain socially distanced.”