Famous four bring it all back home
Oscar hopefuls give life lessons to students
THE magic of the Oscars came to a Dublin college last night after four former students nominated in next month's Academy Awards returned to their alma mater.
Richard Baneham, nominated for creating the special effects for blockbuster 'Avatar'; Tomm Moore, who is in the running in the best animated feature film category for 'The Secret of Kells'; and Darragh O'Connell and Nicky Phelan of Brown Bag Films, nominated for best short film for 'Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty', were all delighted to share their experiences with the current crop of students from Ballyfermot College of Further Education.
Baneham, who was awarded a BAFTA last weekend, said: "Darragh and I were in the same class here in the early 1990s and we've stayed in touch. He was out in LA with me last week. The people we met while studying in Ballyfermot are still a big part of our lives.
"There are groups of them in Dublin, London and Los Angeles. In fact, any big studio which has had success in the past few years, have had Ballyfermot people on board," added Baneham, who is from Tallaght.
"It's a bit strange but wonderful being back after all these years," said O'Connell.
"We're just here to let the students know that if they stick at it, they can get anywhere as long as they are patient and hard-working."
Proof of Baneham and O'Connell's long association was unearthed at the college last week in the shape of an early collaboration between them.
"One of my old lecturers found an old VHS tape with a film on it we made when we were both 18 called 'The Creation of Life'. It's great but maybe a little primitive to what we are doing now," said O'Connell.
The highlight of last night's visit was a Q & A session by the Oscar nominees in front of 200 students.
"Students really want to know about the nitty-gritty of film-making. The best forum for doing that is a questions and answers session," said Baneham.
"If you can touch them at a point where some of them will be inspired to continue the process. Then it's a job well done," he added.
Garret Lee, the programme leader in animation at the Ballyfermot campus, said the quartet's visit had been incredibly inspiring for all of the students who met them last night.
"It was great to have these guys back for an evening. The students were able to show them their work and Richie kindly brought his BAFTA with him which everybody wanted to have their photograph taken with. Hopefully in the future they will each have their own," he said.
A large Irish contingent is expected to make the trip over to the US for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards which take place in the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood on March 7.