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2010 Event Media Release - Winner of GRAPHIC online competition

MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Animation director from Canada wins $20,000 cash prize as part of GRAPHIC online competition

Dave Barton Thomas, a 44-year-old animation director from Canada has been left “numbly-stunned” after winning the $20,000 GRAPHIC online animation competition for his short-film Seven Year Twitch.

Organised by Sydney Opera House and Screen NSW, the competition attracted 75 entries from 13 countries include Australia, Belarus, Canada, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States.

The father of three from Toronto beat four Australian finalists, three from Sydney and one from Melbourne, to win the competition which was part of the inaugural GRAPHIC festival at Sydney Opera House at the weekend.

Barton Thomas, who previously worked as an animation creative director for Cuppa Coffee Studio with clients including Disney, Warner Bros and Mattel, lost his job seven months ago due to the global financial crisis. He discovered the competition through a friend on social networking site Linked In.

 “The competition seemed like a really fun one to jump into and I’m in between gigs right now and thought it might be another great way to establish some new contacts,” he said.

 “I am literally still scratching my head over that what to do with the prize money. I think I need a wee bit more time to let it all sink in. On top of all this, visiting Australia has been a long-held dream of mine since high school so coming to Sydney is like icing sugar on the frosting of the cake.”

The competition required entrants to create 3 x 20 second animatics over three rounds to form a 60sec short film. All styles of animation from a story board comic to stop motion to 3D were accepted.

Members of the public voted at for the most original and creative animations with the judges – Valerie Allerton, Rob Coleman, James Hackett, Shaun Tan and Jordan Verzar – narrowing down the field each time.

Academy Award nominated animation director Rob Coleman said: “I found it really difficult to pick a winner” but Shaun Tan was more decisive describing Seven Year Twitch as “the best example of concise, satisfying story-telling with a very purposeful use of prescribed elements”.

The $20,000 cash prize provided by Screen NSW can be used for professional development, to post produce the winning entry or to invest in taking the animation to market (international or domestic). Barton-Thomas also receives Adobe CS5 Master Collection ($4,344 value) and the four finalists each receive Adobe CS5 Production Premium ($2,840 value). 

The winning animation tells the story of Harold, an office worker who begins to question the decisions he’s made. Luckily for Barton Thomas, he didn’t question himself too much after almost deciding not to enter the competition.

“My idea wasn't coming together as well as I wanted it to and thought that I would probably run out of time before it was finished. It wasn't until my sister suggested loudly that I do something with Harold who I had animated as a test shot before starting work on another idea.”

An alumnus of Sheridan College, Barton Thomas started boarding a story with Harold that night and completed the animation in one day, uploading it with just 20 minutes to spare before the first round of the competition closed.  The following two rounds took longer to complete with the main challenge telling the full story in just 60 seconds.

“We all have moments of reflection of what could have been,” he said. “Harold has just such an epiphany, and makes the decision, which in real life is so often very difficult to do, to make a change and reclaim what it is he really wants to do and where he wants to be. His liberation makes us smile - because we have all had the same dream.”

The other finalists were: Claire Orrell and Joe Perkins for Space Badger: A Badger in Space; James Cowen for Junior; Dave Carter for The Catts and David Blumenstein of Melbourne for The Precinct.

• More than 7300 tickets sold to 16 events
• Five sold-out events (Neil Gaiman, Kevin Smith, Akira, The Arrival, Evolution of an Idea)
• 500 people attended one of three FREE workshops
• 76% of ticket buyers had never been to Sydney Opera House before
• 13% of ticket buyers were from outside NSW

MEDIA CONTACT: Nathan McIlroy, Senior Publicist, Sydney Opera House
02 9250 7596 / 0434 121 146 /


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