Heaven-sent film opportunity

Stonnington Leader, Tuesday December 18 2007, Page 19
Words: Kate Bruce-Rosser

 Stonington Leader

VOLUNTEERING to design purgatory in excruciating detail is a task some would shy away from, but animator Jodie Heenan considers herself blessed. The Swinburne university lecturer, who teaches 3D animation at the Prahran campus, says she is thrilled to have been involved in making the movie Gabriel. The gothic action drama, telling the story of an archangel who fights to save the souls of a city’s inhabitants, started out as an independent film but was snapped up by Sony Pictures. “It’s not too common an occurrence,” Heenan said. The all Australian cast and production team originally volunteered their time because they wanted to prove that Australian talent can make films that are as good as those in Hollywood.” Heenan’s contribution was a year’s worth of late nights and weekends working on graphics and special effects to create “the place where un-rested souls go before their fate is decided”.”Every time there’s a scene with a building with a window in it looking out, they put a green screen behind it and then put my building designs on top,” she said. “I also worked on flyovers of the city.” Heenan created more than 2500 buildings.

“It was interesting and a huge learning curve, considering it was my first major production,” she said. “It was really entertaining and we had a good time.” Being involved in the movie production was reward enough for Heenan, but Sony’s input means she has now been paid for much of her work. It also helped her to move into television and film animation and start her own business, Siam Studios. Despite her hectic schedule, Heenan still manages to lecture part-time at the university she graduated from in 2003. “My lecturers are now my colleagues and it is a bit like a family. I don’t think I could leave even if I wanted to,” she joked.

Gabriel is out on DVD next year.