Rebecca Lyons Wright, Canberra

Rebecca Lyons Wright, Canberra
01 Apr 2015

Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media
2014 ACT Vocational Student of the Year
Finalist 2014 Australian Training Awards

It's hard to believe that just over a year ago I was sitting in class, hard at work on my final assessment and dreaming about a job on a Hollywood feature film. And here I am, 14 months later having achieved that goal- and so much more! The last 14 months have been a crazy roller coaster of surprises and challenges, but all have been incredibly rewarding. I'd like to share my story, in the hope that I can inspire others and encourage them to follow their dreams as I have.

I've been passionate about art for as long as I can remember and have been interested in animated films for almost as long. But it wasn't until I was 12 that I decided that instead of being an astronaut or a vet my dream job was to work in the art department of a feature film. That year was a big year for me. I watched Ice Age and the Fellowship of the Ring for the first time, which both turned out to be hugely influential films: it was through the behind the scenes documentaries of those films that I learnt about the hard-working artists who bring these magical worlds to life.

I keenly pursued art throughout my primary and secondary studies, the dream of working in film feeling further and further away as I struggled to find a path that could take me there. Unsure what else to do I completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Australian National University. After graduating I assessed my situation- I had greatly improved my art skills but I still lacked contacts and software skills to get me into film. As I looked for options to complete further study I found the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) and the world of vocational training.

I look back on my time at AIE very fondly, and I am amazed by how much I improved as an artist and also as a person. Coming into the course I expected to be learning programs and film techniques- I never expected my art skills to improve so drastically. By the time I graduated I felt like I had developed my own "style" -  something that had frustratingly eluded me throughout my degree. I also made some wonderful friends and industry contacts that ultimately helped me secure my first job in the film industry.

Working on Mad Max Fury Road was an amazing and surreal experience. Even now it's hard to believe I worked on that film, and it will be even harder to believe when the promotion ramps up and the movie comes out later this year. I calculated that I spent roughly 1000 hours working on about 100 shots of the film. So while my part of the production was comparatively small, I will still beam with pride when the curtains draw back and I see the completed film in the theatre.

Not long after returning to Canberra to work for Wildbear Entertainment, I was awarded ACT Vocational Student of the Year. This was a wonderful surprise and my experiences after the award night through to the finals have pushed me to come out of my shell and grow as an ambassador for vocational education. Before starting at the AIE I never would have thought I could be an ambassador for anything, or that anyone would be interested in what I have to say. But having come through the VET system being able to experience first-hand just how it shapes career paths I now feel compelled to speak up and hopefully encourage others towards the benefits of VET.

The Australian Training Awards week was another great experience that I remember fondly. It too felt a bit out of this world, like I was in a bubble of inspiration and overwhelming positivity. To be with so many talented people who had achieved incredible things made it feel like anything is possible and you just have to go out and get it. I am trying my best to keep that positivity, and am very excited about the future and what I might be able to do with it.

So it has been a pretty crazy 14 months for me, but I couldn't ask for a better start to my career. I am looking forward to continuing my work with Wildbear Entertainment, pushing myself and continuing my learning in the workforce. I am also excited to be a part of the ACT Training Excellence Awards later this year; it will be a different experience being on the other side of the table!

- Rebecca