Belfast man lands Disney dream job
A Belfast man has landed a dream job with Walt Disney after impressing the famous animators with a cartoon about nightmares.
Jonathan McKee will be designing and drawing characters for forthcoming Disney TV shows after winning a prestigious international competition backed by the celebrated US company.
Mr McKee, a University of Ulster first class honours graduate in Design for Visual Communication, wowed the judges with his 60-second animation, Dreamcatcher.
The 23-year-old, from Dundonald, said he found inspiration for his winning short film on a trip to the far east.
"During a visit to China last year I heard the story of a make-believe ghost called Baku which children called upon to destroy their nightmares when they became frightened at night," he said.
"That inspired The Dreamcatcher. The animation was entirely hand-drawn and hand-painted, depicting a battle between Baku and one of these nightmares, as it breaks into his owner's home intent on eating the children's dreams - but Baku has a clever plan to stop it."
The 2011 D&AD (Design and Art Direction) had asked entrants for its students animation prize to create a minute-long animation incorporating a lead character which embodied the themes of hope and optimism. The character had to be of a unique design and appeal to children aged between four and 14-years-old.
"D&AD awards are seen as the Oscars of the design industry and I was overwhelmed to win first prize in the student animation category," said Mr McKee.
He received his award from Orion Ross, a vice-president with Disney Channels, during a glittering ceremony in London. He continued: "As we were walking off stage he asked me to give him a call during the summer if I was free to do some work and I jumped at the chance."
University of Ulster Professor of Graphic Design John McMillan said: "Jonathan's D&AD success reflects not only his talent but the intelligence, hard work and rigour that underpinned his study."