July 22 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Former Wisbech schoolboy Thom Wickes is living the American dream after working as a special effects animator on an Oscar winning film that has grossed £600million in global box office takings.
Thom, 31, worked for months with the special effects team from Disney on the block buster movie
Frozen which defeated a field that included The Croods and Despicable Me 2 to win best animated film of last year.
It’s a far cry from his time in Wisbech where he attended the former Queen’s school before leaving to study computer science at the College of West Anglia and heading off to Bath for a multi media design course.
“For a long time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Thom. “I was doing a bit of everything from design to photography but 3D animation became a hobby and it all grew from that.”
Seven years ago he moved to London to work for a web site production doing what he calls “routine stuff but throughout was working all my free time at home on my computer, practicing my skills in animation special effects”.
He then jumped at the chance to move to Los Angeles with his American born wife, obtained his work visa, and joined a games company.
“I really wanted to work in film, that was always my ambition, so I started to apply,” he said. Only two responses came his way but since one was Disney the door was suddenly open.
“I’ve been here two years and as an effects animator I get a lot of work on movies and also get to interact with directors too,” he said.
He particularly liked working on Frozen (I got to kill the parents which was cool”) but is already well into new projects.
“We’ve just started Big Hero 6 which is going to be out later this year – it’s based on a Marvel comic book super teen movie like the Avengers,” he said.
It’s all a long way from Elm, where he grew up and where his parents still live (both were teachers) and he and his wife now live in a house five minutes from the Disney studios.
“It’s all pretty much entirely down to working hard and keeping at it,” he said. “I did OK at school but was never very academic. After that it was down to long evenings at the computers and lots of weekends at work – and helped by the internet too. With that you can really teach yourself anything.”
Thom says there have been many highlights but especially when the directors came to share the Oscar won for Frozen.
“That was surreal,” he added.