Australia-born director Chris Noonan made an auspicious debut when he helmed the delightful barnyard fantasy Babe (1995), the story of a piglet who learns to herd sheep. The film was nominated for several Oscars and won for best visual effects. Noonan's interest in filmmaking began in childhood, but it was his father's encouragement that helped him realize his dream. At age 16, he made his first short film Could It Happen Here? (1969) and won a prize at the Sydney Film Festival. In 1973, Noonan and classmates Gillian Armstrong and Phillip Noyce were among the first students at the Australian Film and Television School. For the first five years following graduation, Noonan worked for Film Australia, making short films and documentaries. In 1980, he documented the lives of a troupe of actors suffering from Down's Syndrome and other mental handicaps, His Stepping Out, which earned Noonan considerable acclaim. In 1985, he directed the Australian television miniseries The Chowra Breakout. Noonan directed his first television movie, The Riddle of the Stinson, in 1988.