Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional hub. And Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga is a vital part of the creative landscape in the local area. Not only does the university offer many of its communication and creative industries courses at the Wagga Wagga campus, it also plays a significant role in the broader creative community. Students, academics and alumni all feed into what is a buzzing artistic community.
Andrew Hagan, lecturer in animation and visual effects at Charles Sturt University is a key part of that collaboration. He founded the Australian International Animation Festival – and has organised it for each of the last 15 years.
Each year the festival brings animated features and short films to Wagga Wagga from across the globe, presenting a snapshot of international animation trends on the big screen.
Mr Hagan explained the genesis of the festival.
“The festival was set up to draw attention to animation – which is often underrepresented despite its impact in the entertainment world – as a serious art form. Plus, Wagga has a lot of young creative people who are interested in art and creative pursuits in all its forms, so it’s the perfect place for it.”
A network of professionals and creatives
The festival is also a chance for people interested in the creative art of animation and those working in the field to come together, as Mr Hagan explained.
“Lots of our alumni also come back for the festival. We’ve had alumni who have gone on to work on everything from the Alien films and the Marvel movies to the television series Mythbusters. The festival also allows the organisations we work with in our degrees – from local creative initiatives through Wagga City Council and Eastern Riverina Arts to peak national industry bodies, such as the Australian Academy of Cinema Television and Arts (AACTA) – to get together and share ideas.”
Students get involved too
Mr Hagan also outlined how students studying animation at Charles Sturt are a key part of the festival line up, and how the festival enables those in the school who are interested in the creative arts to get the inside story on working in the industry.
“The animation society at the uni, comprising current creative students at the university, has been involved in the opening night of every one of the festivals. And it’s a great way for students and the public to see what is happening on a global scale, and to hear from some of the leading practitioners in the field. For example, in 2018 we had Daniel Agdag, who was shortlisted for an Oscar for his stop-motion film Lost Property Office, giving the keynote speech.”
The festival featured a range of showcases that highlight the breadth and diversity of animation across the world, including:
- animation for kids
- Australian showcase
- digital showcase
- international students’ showcase
- the new generation of Chinese animation.
The Australian International Animation Festival is a testament to the creativity that exists in regional locations like Wagga Wagga.