Jessica McLeod-Yu had the rare insight of knowing exactly what she wanted to be when she was just three years old.
Her passion for animation has seen her move to Melbourne and secure a role as Assistant Director of the Melbourne International Animation Festival, after graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art (now a Bachelor of Creative Industries) from the University of Newcastle (UON).
The self-confessed adventurer, dreamer, creator, story teller, language learner, animator and artist squeezed every possible opportunity out of her studies.
“Growing up I didn’t meet anyone who described themselves as an animator or someone with a similar profession. I came to university hoping to learn the fundamentals of classical art and drawing.
“During my degree, I tried to choose electives outside of my Faculty to develop other types of skills that I could apply to creating film and animations. I also took advantage of as many overseas experiences that I could manage, which was absolutely incredible,” Jessica said.
Jessica chose to undertake an Honours year as part of her degree. In her thesis, she explored how the medium of animation could be used to express internal states, such as emotions, dreams and thoughts.
“I enjoyed my Honours year the most because I could take all the skills I learnt and apply them to a single project of my own choosing. I made a five-minute hand drawn animation, titled Awake, about the emotional journey of an adolescent experiencing depression.
“I chose this topic because I observed that there were a lot of young people experiencing depression, but not too many of them spoke about overcoming their grief. Based on my own past experiences, I wrote this story with the intention of inspiring people currently going through depression as well as their family and friends,” Jessica explained.
Her short film was selected from thousands of submissions to be screened at the 2017 Newcastle International Animation Festival and has also been used as a teaching tool to show how art can be used to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Looking back, Jessica is glad she chose to study an Arts degree and said it provided her with foundations that gave her more depth and understanding of the field.
“I am quite happy that I studied Fine Arts instead of a standard animation degree because these skills have given me an edge and diverse knowledge base, which other animation students may not experience,” she said.
Jessica McLeod-Yu is putting her animation skills to the test in Melbourne.
I enjoyed my Honours year the most because I could take all the skills I learnt and apply them to a single project of my own choosing.