Leroy Button, 23, New York Film Academy

Growing up in Cairns in Far North Queensland, Leroy credits his “very creative, passionate parents” for the fact he has been behind or in front of a camera almost since birth. His love of filmmaking led him to study at the New York Film Academy Australia (NYFA) on the Gold Coast, graduating with a Diploma of Screen and Media (Filmmaking) in 2017. Leroy works for the Gold Coast office of global aerial cinematography company XM2 Pursuit as a camera operator and drone technician. Films and TV series he has worked on include Kong vs. Godzilla, Aquaman, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Reef Break and Westworld (Season 3).

Q. Why did you choose to study on the Gold Coast?

I wanted to study filmmaking in a way that best suited me. The New York Film Academy Australia on the Gold Coast was my choice because of the locations, studios, beach, rainforest, desert – everything you need to get stuck into the industry and shoot awesome content.

Q. Can you give us a quick insight into your work with XM2 Pursuit?

I’m a camera operator, 1st AC (assistant camera) and coordinator at XM2 Pursuit, the world's premiere complete aerial solution provider. We capture stunning aerial content from almost any airborne platform, catering to the major motion picture, visual effects and television industries. I’m also an accomplished photographer and videographer, capturing stunning behind-the-scenes, article and promotional footage for all XM2 Pursuit projects, development and content.

Q. What do you love about your job?

I love that I can travel the world doing what I think of as a hobby. Pre COVID, I could be in the UK one week and the next over in LA. I would say I’m a perfectionist and my job perfectly complements this and challenges me in new and exciting ways every time I am on set.

Q. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your work?

It unfortunately changed how much I get to travel for work. However, this has allowed me to push for more local-based productions and further increase my network of industry reach.

Q.  What’s new and awesome in your world?

FPV (first-person view) drone footage is something my team and I have been toying with for a while now and it’s becoming more and more wanted on productions. If you ever get a chance to fly a FPV drone, give it a go. The best way I can describe it is like flying a spaceship out of Star Wars.

Q. How would you describe your Gold Coast study experience?

It allowed me to make my way on to the Village Roadshow Studios lot, which ultimately landed me gigs on feature films. The possibility of making connections with industry professionals and learning from the very best of what Australia has to offer is priceless.

Q. Did studying on the Gold Coast shape your life in a personal way?

Absolutely. I have made friends that I will cherish till the day I die. Although we have gone down different paths in the industry, we always manage to catch up and touch base about what’s happening in our respective worlds.

Q. What favourite memory do you have from your student days?

In the final months of my diploma I landed a camera assistant role on Aquaman. This taught me so much about the industry. It also showed me how big productions seamlessly move from studio work to location work. The night shoots at Hastings Point lighthouse were unforgettable.

Q. What would you say to someone who is considering studying on the Gold Coast?

Do it! You won’t regret living on the Coast! Best beaches, best weather and best people!