Top kids’ content creators mentor Griffith filmmakers

Animation student Elijah McNeill was selected for the Kidscreen Next Wave Mentoring Program. Photo: Angus McNeill.

Talented creatives from Griffith Film School have been paired with industry mentors from around the globe to create quality content for children.

The Kidscreen Next Wave Mentoring Program connects university animation and film students with mentors from the world’s biggest production houses, studios and streaming services, from ABC to Animal Logic, Nickelodeon to Netflix and Brisbane’s own Ludo Studio.

Assoc. Prof. Richard Fabb

Creative director of Griffith Film School’s commercial production arm, LiveLab, Associate Professor Richard Fabb, said the mentoring program helped final-year students bridge the gap between university and a screen industry career.

“This program offers students at Griffith Film School a rare chance to work with some of the biggest names in children’s content.”

“We’re delighted that Kidscreen invited us to participate in this new initiative, alongside some of the most prestigious film schools in the world.

“It demonstrates our growing international reputation, and the students being mentored may well follow in the footsteps of GFS alumni who have produced shows like Bluey.”

Final year Bachelor of Animation student Elijah McNeill was mentored by Vancouver-based Animal Logic General Manager Cabral Rock, who has worked on hits like Peter Rabbit, The Lego Movie and Captain Marvel.

“It was so exciting to work with someone at Cabral’s level, and he was able to help me chart out a career path after I graduate,” Elijah said.

“He was also able to give a lot of feedback on my portfolio, where I should show my work, what I should be focusing on at networking events.

“It made me excited about getting out there and taking the next step.”

“My brother is coming to Griffith Film School next year, so we are hoping to set up a studio one day and create work together.”

Animal Logic mentor Cabral Rock and GFS student Elijah McNeill

The young filmmaker is keen to create inclusive content for kids and is developing a series that explores gender identity and family dynamics.

“As a trans person, these are the issues I’ve dealt with, and growing up, I didn’t see it represented on screen,” Elijah said.

“They say write what you know, so the series is semi-autobiographical – it’s about two kids who go out looking for their estranged older sibling.

“I have two much younger siblings, and when I transitioned, it was hard to talk to them about it and it did create a fracture in my family relationships.

“I think it’s so important to have diversity in kids’ content – at the moment, there is a real gap in the market.”

Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production student Anna Kubat was mentored by actor, writer and producer Robyn Butler, who has created award-winning children’s TV shows for ABC TV, including Little Lunch and The Inbestigators.

TV writer and producer Robyn Butler mentored GFS student Anna Kubat

“I’m interested in creating live-action TV comedy for kids, so my mentor was the perfect match,” Anna said.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would end up working with someone like Robyn – to have her read my work was surreal.

“She gave me great feedback, and really interesting insights into what TV executives would be looking for with that kind of script, and what they’re looking for when you pitch.

“This opportunity made me excited, rather than fearful about graduating and it showed me there is a path for everyone in this industry.

“It’s amazing to see filmmakers that have made it, give something back to the industry and support emerging creatives.”

Anna is developing a script for a series set in a performing arts high school, weaving in a powerful message about how funding cuts for the arts could affect the future of emerging artists.

“I think filmmakers see kids’ content as an opportunity to educate young people, and do it in a way that is entertaining,” she said.

“Robyn definitely told me never to write down to your audience and never expect less from kids.”

Anna Kubat on the set of her graduate film.

Anna said she was encouraged by the number of production companies in Brisbane creating award-winning content for children.

“I’ve always had an interest in kids’ content, because it’s such an influential medium of film,” she said.

“Coming into film school and learning about the impact that shows like Bluey have had really inspired me.

“The team who created Bluey went through Griffith and are based in Brisbane – it showed me that it’s a real career path.

“I think the new wave of filmmakers also have so many opportunities to showcase their work on platforms like YouTube and Tiktok.

“It’s opened up so many different doors and avenues for content creation which is super exciting.”

Kidscreen Publisher Jocelyn Christie said the mentoring program filled a gap, with many internships and film festivals cancelled because of COVID travel restrictions.

“We are hoping this program will fill that gap and keep our industry well supplied with fresh new talent,” she said.

“We could not be more grateful to our mentors for generously sharing their time and wisdom to help us meet that goal.”