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Oscar winning director joins graduates celebrating degree successes

19 Oct 2016 12:45PM

Academy Award winning director Mat Kirkby from Suffolk has been recognised for his achievements, receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Suffolk.

Mat, who lives in Shottisham near Woodbridge won Best Short Film for The Phone Call starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent. He famously name checked the Pump Street Bakery in Orford in his Oscar acceptance speech, stating that he was ‘Particularly happy as this means I now get a free donut at my local bakery’. 

Mat received his Doctorate alongside students graduating from the Faculty of Arts, Business and Applied Social Science at Ipswich’s Town Hall.

He spoke before the ceremony saying “This is brilliant, I get to put on a nice floppy hat and a gown, get up on stage and look down at all of these kids who I feel like I was in their position only five minutes ago. I know they are all going to be worried about their future but I’ve done that so hopefully I can give them some inspiration tell them a little bit about what I wish I’d known when I was in their shoes and hopefully inspire the class of 2016.”

“A lot of what I wished I had known now is that you’ve got to make your own opportunities, you can’t expect your dream job to be advertised in a newspaper because the kind of jobs that these guys today who are all in the Arts, they’ve studied film, photography, journalism, that’s not how you get these jobs. When I left university I would sit around and wait for a job in the Media Guardian and send off my CV and that isn’t how you get these jobs. You get them by getting your toe in the door, then your foot in the door and then you’re in. Often you need to work for free.”

“I got a lot of rejections over the years and I still do. For every success I’ve had I have been turned down a hundred times. If these students understand that then maybe they won’t give up if they’ve bene rejected. Even when I finished my film, that won the Oscar, I got rejected by 20 film festivals who didn’t want to play the film. Eventually they started saying yes and then it won pretty much all of the biggest film festivals in the world and I ended up at the Oscars. So they’ve got to be thick skinned, tenacious, keep going and they will get there.”

“It’s great to be honoured at the University of Suffolk because it’s a new university and we want to put it on the map a bit. I grew up in a tiny village in Wales and I never thought I would be making a film or working in the video industry, have a number one music video, win an Oscar- I thought that was impossible. Hopefully these graduates can realise they didn’t need to grow up in America, near Hollywood or have very rich parents to get there. They can do it; they can achieve their dream and goals.”

Mat has worked for Sir Ridley Scott making commercials and music videos for over 10 years, directing videos for the likes of Adele, Muse and Fatboy Slim. His music videos have had over 500 million hits on Youtube. He is currently working on his first feature film Code of Life, which follows the true story of the epic race to map the human genome.

Honorary Awards recognise notable contributions to the educational or cultural well-being of society. This can be in business, industry, commerce or enterprise, for academic distinction, for public or community service or an exceptional involvement in the University.

1,342 students will be conferred at ceremonies in Ipswich this week. The ceremonies mark the graduation of the last full student cohort of University Campus Suffolk. Next autumn will see the conferral of the first degrees awarded by the University of Suffolk.


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476