View all news

Oscar-winner Ben walks the golden road to Hollywood via Bristol

15 July 2011

Bristol graduate Ben Morris (will receive an honorary degree today [15 July] in recognition of his achievements in the film industry. The 40-year-old graduated with a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1992 and has gone on to become a leading visual effects engineer, winning an Oscar for his work on The Golden Compass.

Bristol graduate Ben Morris (BA 1993) will receive an honorary degree today [15 July] in recognition of his achievements in the film industry. The 40-year-old graduated with a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1993 and has gone on to become a leading visual effects engineer, winning an Oscar for his work on The Golden Compass.

He will now be a Doctor of Engineering, awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the University’s mission.

Ben said: “I feel very proud and humbled to be receiving this honorary doctorate and hope I can inspire more graduates from Bristol to start careers in the film industry.”

From being a student at the University of Bristol, his career has flourished and he’s worked on some of the biggest blockbusters of recent times, including several of the Harry Potter films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Gladiator.

Ben’s passion for computer animation began at the age of seven when he went to see the original Star Wars film, which left him amazed by the wonderfully animated robots and space ships. He was given a single lens reflex camera by his dad at the age of eight and soon discovered how much fun was involved in making moving films.

He started to make short animated films in his garden shed and went on to study Art, Maths and Physics for A-Level before taking a foundation course in Art and Design. Having achieved a distinction, Ben decided that a qualification in engineering would complete his skill set and make him well-prepared for a career in film making.

Professor Stuart Burgess, from the Department for Mechanical Engineering, delivered the oration for Ben’s honorary degree and said: “Coming to Bristol to study Mechanical Engineering was an inspired choice because the best artists are those who have a deep understanding of the physics of the real world.

“Leonardo da Vinci is the classic example of an artist whose success stemmed largely from his scientific and engineering knowledge.”

After graduating in 1993, Ben immediately got a position in Jim Henson's Creature Shop where he worked on the Oscar award-winning film Babe. But with the world of animation gradually shifting from the use of physical puppets to computer generated characters, Ben decided to retrain and embrace the new technologies.

To read more about Ben's career please visit the University's news pages.