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Young local filmmaker wins BUFTA 2021

Ryan Thwaite of the Gold Coast has taken out Australia’s top competition for high school filmmakers with an intriguing abstract animation. 

The Year 12 student from Palm Beach Currumbin State High won the top prize at the 2021 Bond University Film & Television Awards, or BUFTA, at an awards ceremony on November 20.

Mr Thwaite secured a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond with his short film Veronica.

The film is a dark and brooding animation with a dramatic monotone colour palette and striking sound effects that reinforce the uneasy sense of dread.

Mr Thwaite’s film won the animation, directing, sound and best Gold Coast filmmaking categories as well as going on to take out the supreme prize.

Mr Thwaite was amazed at his success.

“I thought I was done for when I saw the other films so I’m honestly speechless and I’m literally shaking,” he said.

“Animation’s really hard and I definitely underestimated how much work I was going to have to put into it.

“This was my first film so I was winging everything – learning as much as I could as I went along.”

Mr Thwaite believed planning was the key to his movie. 

“I do everything on paper first and then I transfer it over,” he said.

“I try to exaggerate shapes; it’s all about shapes really. I do a lot of trial and error when finding the right colour schemes to use.

“And another interesting thing was that the film was all black and white to begin with but then I did heaps of overlays and that’s how the colour got there.”

The Jury Prize, a 25 per cent scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond, was won by West Australian Year 12 student Jasmin Naish for documentary For The Love of Sheep.

Bond University Faculty of Society & Design Executive Dean, Professor Derek Carson, was thrilled with both the BUFTA awards ceremony and the quality of films submitted.

“These films are incredible. You’ve got to remind yourself, these are made by 16 and 17-year-old kids, it’s absolutely phenomenal. They’ve done themselves proud, and they’ve done Australia proud.”

Beginning in 1996, BUFTA is a short film competition which attracts and showcases aspiring young filmmakers from secondary schools across Australia. 

Past BUFTA winners have gone on to have films selected for the prestigious New York Shorts International Film Festival, as well as working on Avengers: Endgame (2019), The Bureau of Magical Things (2018), Beauty & the Beast (2017), Dr Strange (2016), and The Great Gatsby (2013).  

2021 BUFTA winners

Best Achievement in Music Video: Emily Ross

Tambourine Mountain State Highschool (QLD) for Contracts in Candlelight


Best Achievement in Art Film: Ethan Lewin

St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace (QLD) for She is Going to be Late


Best Achievement in Screenwriting: Lily Boisvert

Mercedes College (WA) for The Tea Sommelier


Best Achievement in Documentary: Jasmin Naish

Iona Presentation College (WA) with For the Love of Sheep


Best Achievement in Directing: Ryan Thwaite

Palm Beach Currumbin High School (Qld) for Veronica


Best Achievement in Experimental Film: Owen Douglas

Anglican Church Grammar School (NSW) for Tachypsychia


BUFTA 2021 Award for Best School: Tambourine State High School

Alison Smith and Collette Weedy


Best Achievement for Animation: Ryan Thwaite



Best Achievement in Cinematography: Jake Frazer

Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School (NSW) for To Be Or Not To Be


Best Achievement in Editing: Indiana Harvey

Guilford Grammar School (WA) for Companion


Best Achievement in Comedy: Sarah Larkey

Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College – NSW for Stuck With Myself


Best Gold Coast Filmmaker: Ryan Thwaite


Best Achievement in Drama: Lili Boisvert The Tea Sommelier


Best Achievement in Sound: Ryan Thwaite


Red Bull People’s Choice Award: Lily Boisvert


Dean’s Choice Award: Sarah Larkey


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