Stewart MacLennan

Stewart MacLennan grew up on a sheep and cattle property in the NSW Southern Tablelands and developed a passion for radio and television production at very young age. He studied Agricultural Technology at Wagga Agricultural College, now the School of Agriculture, Charles Sturt University, aiming to use it as an entry to the ABC’s Rural Department. He then worked as a Rural Development Officer in the Markham Valley in Papua New Guinea, establishing indigenous cattle projects, using radio as a communication tool to the isolated village-based communities of the region.

Stewart returned to Australia in 1974 and was successful in gaining a position with the ABC, working the acclaimed documentary series “A Big Country”, as a Producer and Reporter. In 1983 he was seconded to the United Nations and undertook an assignment in Sierra Leone lecturing on radio production for the FAO’s Communication Unit.

In 1985 MacLennan left the ABC to make films for the National Geographic Society in Washington, forming Garner MacLennan Films (GMF) with fellow ex-ABC documentary maker Stafford Garner. GMF then expanded into digital design and animation, establishing one of the first digital production facilities in Australia. TV commercial makers utilised the skills of Garner MacLennan Design (GMD), for complex Visual Effects that had previously been beyond the Australian technical and financial limits. GMD was regarded as the most highly awarded company of its type in the region, with over 100 prestigious Australian and International awards to its credit.

In the early ‘90s, foreseeing the potential for digital animation and graphic design in the newly emerging arena of interactive media, MacLennan formed GMD Interactive. The company’s first success was a series of children’s’ CD-ROMs featuring the ABC’s internationally celebrated Bananas in Pyjamas. The CD-ROMs sold more than 250,000 units worldwide.

Under MacLennan’s leadership, the GMD Group built an impressive base of digital production and post-production equipment which employed a team of more than 70 of the region’s most skilled exponents of digital design, 3D animation, effects and programming. The company was sold to Sausage Software in 2000.

Following the sale of GMD, MacLennan has worked as a producer, writer and consultant on digital media production and accessibility issues for people with disabilities and conducted workshops for young people wishing to develop their skills in film and television.

In mid 2007 he was invited to be chairman of leading Australian digital visual effects company Fuel International Pty Ltd, formed in 2000 by a group of ex-GMD staff.

In 2002 he was presented with the Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding contributions to Landcare Australia at Parliament House Canberra. In 2003 he and colleague were contracted to write a handbook; Community Television for the Third World for UN agency UNESCO.

Stewart MacLennan is a Legatee and an adviser on disability issues to Sydney Legacy and Legacy across NSW. He recently worked with Aspect Autism on a documentary for the parents of the newly diagnosed. He sat on the Management Committee of the Physical Disability Council NSW in 2007, having been its Treasurer for the previous three years. He was a member of the Inclusion Advisory Group of the City of Sydney, and is presently on the Reference Group of Accessible Arts, and an Associate Member of the Association of Access Consultants Australia. Stewart is also the secretary of the Milsons Passage Bushfire Brigade and is also presently secretary of the Observatory Tower Owners Corporation, having served as chairman for the previous four years.

He and his wife Lesley are presently building an innovative wheelchair accessible barge in the UK and plan to spend future northern hemisphere summers cruising the canals of England and then France.

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