Little Films, Big Ideas

Filmink chats with talented young filmmaker, Genevieve Clay, about her award-winning short films and her role in the upcoming National Youth Week Competition

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Having won Tropfest in 2009 and various other festival accolades for her socially-conscious short films, it may come as a surprise that writer/director Genevieve Clay initially wanted to be on the other side of the camera. "I always wanted to act, and I never thought about directing at all," Clay says. "It wasn't until I decided to study filmmaking in order to be in everyone's short films so I could cut a reel for myself, that I discovered I liked making films. I was better at making them than being in them."

Indeed Clay has proven herself to be a talented young filmmaker, taking out the top prize at last year's Tropfest for her inspiring film Be My Brother, a story about a young man with Down Syndrome which challenged social prejudices. Her latest short film, Frances and Annie, which also examines the way society treats people with disabilities, made waves at the 2009 Bondi Short Film Festival where it won Best Script.

Why does Clay feel so drawn to making films about social issues? "I think that film is so powerful, we should use it to entertain and bring about advocacy and awareness. I'm not saying that I think rom-coms are evil," she laughs before adding, "whatever genre I'm tackling, I always want to say something in my work whether audiences realise it or not."

While Clay has won accolades and praise on the Festival circuit, forging a career in the film industry remains a tough gig. "Tropfest has been a great springboard for me. But it isn't a magic switch, you don't just win and then everything is given to you on a silver platter. You still have to write, come up with ideas, approach funding bodies and work hard to achieve your goals," Clay says.

However the young director does realise what a valuable opportunity events like Tropfest are. "It has been the most excellent platform to give my film a life, it has been seen by more people than I could have ever imagined and it's still being screened at and requested for festivals! So for that I'm extremely grateful."

Keen to help others with filmmaking aspirations, Clay is set to participate in the upcoming National Youth Week Competition which provides young Australians with the opportunity to showcase their talents in the arts. Clay will be judging the film category. "It is so important to encourage the next generation of artists to achieve their dreams in their desired creative career. I think the biggest thing that frustrates me is the way people underestimate the talents of young filmmakers."

Clay says that a project like this encourages young people to make that project they may have been thinking about for a while. "Everyone has a story, young or old. I believe everyone has a successful film inside them, they just need to find the right way to tell it."

National Youth Week 2010 will run from 10-18 April. For more information visit the website here.

Picture caption: Clay at Tropfest 2010, Sydney. Photographer: Gaye Gerard

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