Emma Hanson - alumna profile

Emma Hanson graduated from UWE Bristol in Media Practice in 2011. Now she is an assistant director for Aardman Animations. We caught up with her to hear how she managed to rise up the ranks with the global animation giant.

A never-ending schedule

Emma Hanson“After graduating, I got a two-month placement working as a Final Cut Pro editor for a corporate events company. Following this, I managed to get three months' unpaid work for an independent feature film starring Helen McRory. I was responsible for hiring over a hundred extras and coordinating costumes, schedules, release forms and payment.”

“I went on to work as an Apple specialist in Cabot Circus. I was hoping this would be a temporary fix to help me stay in Bristol until another film or TV job came my way. After almost a year with Apple, I started working a few days a week at the media centre on UWE Bristol’s Bower Ashton Campus. While I was there, I met one of my former lecturers. She put me in touch with folks at Aardman who were looking for a runner to work on Shaun the Sheep. I got the job and have been here for about two years now. I moved from runner on series four, to junior production assistant and floor assistant on the Shaun the Sheep Movie, and now I’m third assistant director on series five.”

“My job as assistant director involves helping with the day-to-day running of the production and keeping the crew informed of the schedule’s demands. I also work on the studio floor to make sure that we have the right puppets and assets ready for each shot.”

Shear glamour?

When asked about the glamour involved working in the film industry, Emma says, “meeting incredible actors and influential people like Helen McRory, Peter Serafinowicz, Bill Bailey, Mary Berry and Harvey Weinstein was pretty exciting. Shooting under the wings of the first Concorde to fly was also inspiring. But attending the European Premiere of Shaun the Sheep in Leicester Square this January was an absolute dream come true”.

But it’s not all been plain sailing.

“Working for Aardman has been incredibly challenging, especially having come into the company with very little animation knowledge. To get up to speed with their incredibly high and professional standards, and to work alongside and be accepted by an experienced team in such a short time was hard but completely rewarding.”

Baa-rilliant networking

Talking about how UWE Bristol helped shape her career, Emma said, “During my time as a second year, I helped a crew of third years edit one of their short documentaries. It was extra work but meant I met a few of the people working in the year above. One of these happened to interview me for the job at Aardman and helped me get the job - a job I may not have known about if I hadn’t have been working at UWE Bristol and met my lecturer in the first place.”

Pastures new

On her plans for the future, Emma says, “My contract with Aardman continues until the summer. I plan to take a couple of weeks out to travel to America afterwards. Then I’d love to re-join the crew for any big projects coming up, but who knows!”

“I’d also love to get back into live action film and TV - working in the production office or on set. And my ultimate goal is to become an Academy Award-winning producer/director and philanthropist with many influential and powerful films to my name!”

Emma’s hard work, grit and determination eventually led her to her dream job. And judging by her career so far, we have every faith that she will achieve her ultimate goal.

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