Success is rooted in Leeds for Oscar winner

An Oscar-winning graduate from Leeds Beckett University is encouraging students to showcase their work at public events.
Ayyappadas Vijayakumar.Ayyappadas Vijayakumar.
Ayyappadas Vijayakumar.

Ayyappadas Vijayakumar was part of the team that scooped an Academy Award for visual effects in the war drama 1917.

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And with the LBU-supported Harrogate Film Festival opening on March 7, he has recalled his own road to success.

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“It takes an enormous amount of guts to present your work in-front of an audience,” said Ayyappadas, who graduated from LBU in 2013 with a Masters in Digital Video and Special Effects.

“The more you showcase your work, the more criticisms you will get from others which will enable you to understand what people like and dislike. You can gain an enormous amount of exposure too by doing so.

“Every new film maker should know that to make something extraordinary, you will have to endure some pain and suffering but that will be nothing once you see your work on the big screen.

Leeds Beckett University played a huge role in making my dream a reality. Affordable education is hard to come by and in my case, LBU had an amazing program of digital video and special effects, combined with a little scholarship helped me get the most amazing experience in education that I could have hoped to get.

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“The course being a semi research and taught course, enabled me to learn by doing research and also at times, learn from experts who used to visit the university to give lectures.”

Ayyappadas worked as a freelance visual effects and motion graphics artist alongside his LBU studies.

The Oscar-winning 1917 film relies on a single shot depiction of the entire narrative which follows two British soldiers who, in a race against time, must deliver a message that could save 1,600 fellow comrades.

Camera moves were choreographed to allow two scenes that were filmed in the same location at different times to be taken into the computer and “stitched” together as if they were one complete shot.

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Ayyappadas was speaking on the eve of the Harrogate Film Festival - a 10-day event in March that will include appearances by acclaimed film director Ken Loach and legendary actor Brian Blessed.

As part of the festival, students from the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University - a key educational partner for the event - will get the opportunity to exhibit their work.

“When 1917 hit the screens and when I saw it, I nearly broke in to tears because that is what happens when the creation that you helped create presents itself in its entire glory before you and when it could not be more perfect," recalled Ayyappadas

“All our worries and pain we endured making it as team disappeared when our supervisors lifted the Oscars for that movie at the 2020 Oscars.

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“We had failures but we kept pushing again and again until we completed the work. I would like to quote James Cameron because that quote is what keeps me going every day at work: “Failure is an option, but fear is not.””

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