From Cartoons to Cinematography

Course: MA Film and Television Production

14 October 2019

Stephanus Pretorius with camera. Photo credit Dom Zalys

I am an animator, illustrator, concept artist, storyboard artist and cartoon character designer. I was born deaf. My first language is sign language and I had a cochlear implant in 2013.

I did a National Diploma in Graphic Design at Doncaster College.  Once I achieved the grades to go to university, I did a BA (Hons) in Animation and Illustration at the University Centre Doncaster (Doncaster College & University of Hull).  I enjoyed the animation so much that after I got the degree I applied to do the PgDip in Character Animation at the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martin’s College.  I also worked on a freelance basis as a rendering assistant for Lupus Films in the making of The Snowman 2.

In 2017 I decided to study on the MA Film and Television Production at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. I had done a lot of research into the history of filmmaking. I was investigating the different cameras, recorders and microphones to get a better understanding of cinematography. I learnt to use different Adobe software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Adobe Audition. My hearing teachers and students taught me with Premiere Pro, ZOOMH6 and radio/lapel microphones.  It was the first time I used ZOOMH6 and radio/lapel microphones for hearing students.

After graduating, I had an idea to investigate the plight of rhinos and rhino farmers in South Africa (I was born there, in Pretoria).  It was triggered when I saw a picture on Facebook of a slaughtered rhino on a farm in Gravelotte. I decided this would make a good documentary, with two totally different opinions. My crew and I interviewed people in London and Buckinghamshire about the rhino question. I also filmed a lot of rhinos and interviewed the private rhino farmer,  amongst others.

I hope, if I am successful, to work as a cinematographer and sound designer in the future. There are not a lot of opportunities for me as I am deaf and it is difficult to communicate. However, with the help of my lecturer and other students on my course, the few opportunities that there were helped a lot in my development. I have gained skills that will be used throughout my life and career. Asd as result I am much more confident as a person and feel as though I achieve way more than I ever thought I could. I have support from a BSL interpreter and note taker. I read a lot of books in the library, literally day and night. Subtitles by (on Anglia Ruskin’s account - therefore free for me) provided a lot of help - I learned about the Canon C100 and Adobe programmes on there. I enjoyed learning and reading very much and had a very nice time in Cambridge.  The academic atmosphere helped me to concentrate and work hard. The highlight was when a group of students (myself included) went to London to make a movie. I learned a lot - and it was a lot of fun.

Stephanus Pretorius studied MA Film and Television Production at ARU in Cambridge. Come and see our film-making facilities for yourself: book your place at one of our Open Days.