The Pearcey Foundation today announced Tony Clark as this year’s SA Pearcey Entrepreneur Award winner. The award was presented by Professor Mike Miller (2017 Pearcey Medallist) who said, “This award celebrates and honours a South Australian entrepreneur who has not only been innovative and creative, but also for achieving real long-term commercial success, both locally and globally.”
Mr Clark is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, co-founder of several companies including Rising Sun Pictures (RSP), and a great proponent of Australian participation in the world’s movie and television industry.
Accepting the award, Mr Clark called entrepreneurship “a long game”.
“When Rising Sun Pictures started in 1995 the Internet was new. There was no Google, no Facebook,” he said. “As a group of young people in our late 20s, we [Wayne Lewis, Gail Fuller and Mr Clark] had a vision that computer graphics would be huge and its use in filmmaking would be huge. And that somehow, we were going to do that from South Australia.”
Today, after 23 years, Rising Sun Pictures employs 180 people contributing in excess of $220m to the State economy, hitting nearly $23m in the last financial year.
“Along the way we’ve spun out pieces of technology into new companies and they’ve become successful. Most of the world’s makers of big movies, including Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, use our technology. I’m lucky to have participated in a company that has advanced the way the world creates movies.”
The company has survived three economic cycles of boom and bust, going to the edge of sustainability.
“Probably the greatest fear is what happens when you fail. If I have one thing to call out, it would be that we recognise our entrepreneurial talent here, hold it up and work to support it and enable it to do more.
“We have, over the last couple of years, seen many examples where we as a State have looked outside for validation. We’ve spent enormous amounts of public money bringing in renewable energy companies when we have renewable companies here. We’ve spent enormous amounts of money importing IT security companies when we have great companies and great talent here.
“I think the thing about South Australian entrepreneurs is that they choose to be here. They are here because they love this place; and we at Rising Sun Pictures love this place.
“While we are funding our business out of cash flow and capital raising, a competitor received a six-million dollar free kick to come and compete in our backyard. I don’t think that is something we need to aspire to as a State.
“At a really fundamental level we need to support our entrepreneurs and insist that our government helps to build local businesses that are here because they love and are committed to this place, not because they are coming for subsidies.”
Tony Clark’s early career started in cinematography and film making which evolved into Visual Effects (VFX) as the technology became increasingly powerful. In 1995 he, along with Wayne Lewis and Gail Fuller, co-founded Rising Sun Pictures in Adelaide to bring together technology and the creative film industry. Since that time, RSP has grown to be an international acclaimed VFX company of 200 people, over $22m in annual revenues and more than 120 movie and television special effects credits including Tomb Raider, Peter Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok, Logan, X-Men: Apocalypse, Game of Thrones Season 6, The Legend of Tarzan, Gods of Egypt, Pan, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Hunger Games franchise, the Harry Potter franchise, Gravity, The Wolverine, Prometheus and The Great Gatsby.
In 2000, Tony co-founded Rising Sun Research (RSR), to commercialise and continue to develop VFX capabilities being pioneered by RSP. An early product was CineSpace, a film colour management solution that was critical in matching special effects with the on set photography. In 2008 CineSpace was acquired by Cinetal Systems and subsequently by THX in 2011. In 2012, RSR was renamed to Cospective to better reflect the broadening nature of the products being developed.
In 2004, Tony established Cinenet, an elastic high-speed internet service provider which allowed Australian filmmakers to move their huge special effects and animation files to producers in Los Angeles. Cinenet was acquired by Superloop (ASX:SLC) in 2015 and Tony became a Non-Executive Director.
In 2005, RSR released the first version of cineSync, a real-time collaboration system, which has grown to become the gold standard in Hollywood. The software is like a video conferencing system with the extra capabilities for real-time, multi-team, multi-location updates e.g. edit, draw, adjust in a colour accurate environment, leveraging knowledge from Cinespace). In 2010, Tony and the team were presented with a Technical Achievement Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognising “discoveries and innovations that have contributed in significant, outstanding and lasting ways to motion pictures”. A web-based version for the advertising industry, Frankie, is becoming equally famous.
In 2012, Rising Sun Pictures established an intensive course in digital special effects at Flinders University (Adelaide). Using a state-of-the-art studio, students gain practical experience and appreciation of the complexities and effort behind the amazing special effects in modern movies. (For example, Rising Sun Pictures’ work for the award-winning film Gravity, for just a 2.5-minute scene, required twenty-five artists and fifteen months to finish.)
Tony has served as a board member on the SA Film Corporation and is currently on the boards of Ausfilm, RiAus and Superloop. He is an active member of both Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Visual Effects Society.
For more information about previous SA Pearcey Entrepreneur Award winners, go to https://pearcey.org.au/sa.
Other 2018 State Awards
ACT: the 2018 ACT Chief Minister’s Pearcey Entrepreneur Award was presented to Ken Kroeger on 4 September.
NSW: to be presented in conjunction with ACS NSW at Sydney Startup Hub on 1 November.
QLD: to be presented at a dinner on 10 October at the St Lucia Golf Club, Brisbane.
TAS: the 2018 Tasmanian Pearcey Award to be announced in conjunction with an ACS event recognising the Tasmanian Nominees for the ACS Digital Disruptors National Awards on 4 October at the Hobart Function and Conference Centre.
VIC: awarded jointly to the co-founders of Rome2rio Bernie Tschirren and Michael Cameron on 28 August.
2018 National Awards
The 2018 National Awards event, incorporating the Pearcey Medal and Pearcey Hall of Fame awards together with the Pearcey National Entrepreneur Award, will be held on 1 November as part of ACS Reimagination 2018, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
About the Pearcey Foundation
The Pearcey Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to raise the profile of the Australian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and profession. It was created in the memory of one of the greatest pioneers of the Australian ICT industry, Dr Trevor Pearcey. By celebrating the heroes in our industry, past, present and future, the Foundation is looking to attract and encourage young Australians into this most exciting of global high technology sectors of our nation.
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