Ahead of the Oscar’s ceremony in Hollywood this weekend, we caught up with BU graduate and Oscar-nominee Mike Mulholland, who is shortlisted in the visual effects category for his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to find out how his career has progressed since graduating and what it is like to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Mike worked on The Last Jedi as a part of the team at ILM, where he works as an effects supervisor. He studied the BA Computer Animation and Visualisation course at BU, graduating in 1996.
What are your memories of studying at BU? Is there anything you miss about being a student at BU?
I have very fond memories of BU! It was great to be in a community of students as we started exploring the world of CG animation. I enjoyed the creative freedom of the student projects we worked on and the collaborative spirit at the university.
What were your first steps on leaving BU? How did you go from BU graduate to where you are now?
After graduating at BU I spent a couple of years in the computer game industry before making the jump to VFX work. I've worked a number of VFX companies including Cinesite, ESC, Framestore and now Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
What have you had the chance to work on along the way?
Lots! Highlights include Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Gravity, Warhorse, the Matrix sequels, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avatar, Band of Brothers and many more.
How did it feel to find out you had been nominated alongside your colleagues for an Oscar?
It's a great honour. It's a very strong year for VFX and all the nominated films feature excellent work.
Each film represents the hard work of hundreds of crew - so it's a privilege to be able to represent everyone who worked on the film.
Are you looking forward to heading to Hollywood?
Visiting LA is always fun! Definitely looking forward to the glitz and glamor of the ceremony. It will be quite surreal walking down the red carpet!
What was it like to work on an internationally-recognised franchise such as Star Wars?
Exciting! There's so much history and backstory to the franchise! It was amazing to be working with characters and spaceships that I remember from my own childhood.
What advice would you have for any BU graduates hoping to follow in your footsteps – what do you tell people when they ask for tips?
There are many different disciplines within VFX - so I suggest students explore as many as possible to find out what interests them most and get a rounded understanding of the field. Once you've settled on an area that excites you then focus your work to show you've got a passion and talent in a particular area.
The Oscar’s ceremony takes place on Sunday 4 March 2018, where The Last Jedi is up against Blade Runner 2049; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Kong: Skull Island; and War for the Planet of the Apes.
If The Last Jedi wins, Mike will become the third BU graduate to take to the stage to collect an Oscar for visual effects after Andrew Lockley (Inception, Interstellar) and Mark Ardington (Ex Machina).
Good luck Mike!