Bio and Self-Introduction
1971 – 1988 Born and raised
1989 – 1993 Employed by Disney
1995 – 1998 Effects Director
2000 – 2002 Published Author and Brackenwood
2003 – Ween and Bitey of Brackenwood
2004 – New Masters and Prowlies
The future – Brackenwood
I was born in 1971 in a small Australian country town called Narromine where I lived until my late teens. My mother recognized my talent for drawing when I was a toddler, and she maintains that I could hold a pencil correctly before my two legs could support me. I would sit on the floor for hours drawing spiders on my fingers and toes, and filling sheets of butcher’s paper with doodles and scribbles.
In 1989 I moved to Queensland and soon found employment in a steel factory where my left arm was promptly dragged into a machine and broken. At the time I lived alone in a trailer on the beach, so for the six months following the accident, I spent my days sleeping and my nights drawing. I began to develop ideas for a comic book, the very pages of which I used to apply for a position as a trainee inbetweener with the Walt Disney Television Studio in Sydney, Australia. My application was accepted and in July 1993 I moved to Sydney for the job.
In 1995 I was promoted to character animator, and soon after decided to move in the direction of special effects animation. 3 years later in 1998 I was promoted to Effects Director where I managed a team of animators through several major Disney sequels, including An Extremely Goofy Movie, The Little Mermaid 2, Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure, and Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland.
In 2000, I discovered Flash and began to animate some stories I remembered from my childhood. After a few smaller experimental Flash movies, I wrote and animated hitchHiker: part one, a true story told to me by my father. In 2002, hitchHiker was noticed by some editors at friendsofED, a computer book publisher based in the U.K. They asked whether I could like to create the hitchHiker conclusion alongside writing a chapter about how it’s done. Needless to say, I leapt at the chance.
It was around then that I decided my time would be better spent concentrating on my own direction in life, rather than those of my effects animation team. After 3 years of running the Effects department I stepped out of the position in order to spend more time furthering my Flash work and storytelling outside of Disney. From then to now I have worked as a Senior Effects animator for the studio, while maintaining my website, telling stories, making movies and developing the world of Brackenwood.
Brackenwood has been floating around in my head for about 8 years. The plan has always been to complete a design bible and pitch document, then work hard on getting it out there. As well as concept sketches and story outlines, I thought ‘what better than to have some completed episodes as part of the pitch?’. Not only would this show the characters moving around in their environment, but it would bring them to life, giving them personalities and showing how they relate with one another. This is why each Brackenwood episode so far is not so much a story, as an introduction to one or more characters. The first Brackenwood episode to be completed was Bingbong.
In early 2003 hitchHiker: part two was complete, and the book called ‘Flash MX Most Wanted Effects and Movies’ was released. The following July, I traveled to New York city to attend the Flash Forward Film Festival where hitchHiker: part Two won the cartoon category. To see hitchHiker part Two, click the image below.
September of the same year saw me animate a music video for my favorite band Ween, and their new single ‘Transdermal Celebration’. I wrote and animated the music video in just two weeks flat, and the band loved it. The music video made it to MTV.com, Fuse TV, Much Music in Canada and all of the music video channels here in Australia. It was popular enough to become a bonus feature on Ween’s recently released ‘Live in Chicago’ DVD. To download an optimized version of the video, please click the image below.
2003 had been a big year, but before it was over Bitey of Brackenwood was written, animated and submitted into a competition called ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’. I attended the awards night in San Francisco and Bitey took the Runner-up prize.
In January 2004, I completed work on my second book chapter for friendsofED in the third volume of their incredibly popular ‘New Masters of Flash’ series. The book and my chapter itself – all about lighting effects in Flash – have received very good reviews.
Since completing the New Masters book chapter, I have begun storyboards for ‘Waterlollies’ and completed ‘Prowlies at the River’, which currently sits at #1 on the newgrounds.com ‘Top 50 of all time’. There is a glowing Newgrounds article/review on the Prowlies here.
Right now I am teamed up with best-selling actionscript author Sham Bhangal. Together we’re writing a book on animation and programming in Flash that will be published by O’Reilly.
In the 6 months since the Bitey of Brackenwood debut on newgrounds.com, there have been millions of hits on the Brackenwood movies, both on newgrounds and on my own site. On the newgrounds site alone, there are over 6,000 written reviews for both Prowlies at the River(#1) and Bitey of Brackenwood (currently #10). On my own website, the members forum has grown in membership from 200 to 500 in the 4 weeks since the release of the Prowlies.
Of all the reviews for Bitey of Brackenwood, the most common comment is ‘I love the yellow farty thing.. where can I get one?’, ‘please get some merchandise happening, I want the yellow squishy animal!’, ‘I want a shirt with the fatsack!’, etc. Everyone seems to love the fatsack, and of course Bitey is incredibly popular as well.
The idea behind all the work I’ve done so far is to pitch Brackenwood. My plans for Brackenwood’s future include an ongoing television series, a graphic novel, an ‘Art of Brackenwood’ book, a ‘Brackenwood Wildlife Field Guide’ book, a feature film screenplay, merchandise from my website including plushies, shirts, caps and bags, as well as some of my own merchandise innovations.
The image below shows an 3D model of Bitey which I built and rigged to explore the possiblities of doing a 3D Brackenwood episode.
Further down the track I see a Brackenwood feature film. I’m not just saying that because it’s my baby… I really do see it. I see Brackenwood merchandise in every country and adults at childrens prices flocking to cinemas for the new Bitey film.