Gifted filmmaker, Genevieve Clay-Smith, gives us the lowdown on Bus Stop Films, a not-for-profit organisation, which provides workshops for people living with a disability.
Bus Stop Films co-founder, Genevieve Clay-Smith, says one of the main goals of her organisation's first upcoming screening is to show people what is possible.
Dedicated to providing people who identify as having a disability the opportunity to learn and be involved in professional filmmaking and with a focus on creating inclusion in the film industry, Clay-Smith was inspired to start Bus Stop Films after making a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW.
Being involved in holding filmmaking workshops for people living with disability since late 2006, she was no stranger to the industry.
In 2008, Clay-Smith was a member of The Mixed Ability Ensemble, a drama group run out of the Powerhouse Youth Theatre that included people with and without disabilities. Eleanor Winkler, Bus Stop's co-founder, was project managing the ensemble and it was decided then to make Clay-Smith's short film, Be My Brother, an inclusive film, where people with disabilities would have roles on set.
Winning Tropfest in 2009 with Be My Brother was a benchmark for Clay-Smith, as it opened up a world of possibilities. "At the time we weren't an organisation, but we made Be My Brother an inclusive film because we felt it was the right thing to do," she says. "If we were making a film about a person with a disability, it needed to be made alongside and with people with disabilities as well."
At the beginning of 2011, the process of becoming a not-for-profit organisation began, with Clay-Smith believing there currently aren't any viable pathways to give people with a disability the opportunity to be involved in the film industry. "I think it's because no one's really known how to go about it," she says. "The industry is quite intense, with long hours and high pressure, so what's needed are support infrastructures surrounding opportunities for a person to be involved."
The long term goal of Bus Stop Films is to develop the best way to provide opportunities in the mainstream industry and the much-needed support to go with it; in the meantime, however, making films with professional mentors is a great way to provide such hands on experience.
By offering weekly filmmaking workshops and the resources and mentors to make an industry standard short film, Bus Stop Films are providing opportunities in the mainstream industry to people that otherwise wouldn't have them. "The reality is for a person with a disability, the usual pathway isn't really a pathway, it's a series of roadblocks," Clay-Smith says.
After a year of workshops with twelve people who identify as having a disability, Bus Stop Films are having their first showcase screening on July 16, with a lot of planning going in to making sure it will be a night to remember for the students involved.
The organisation will be screening their first short film as an established not-for profit organisation, The Interviewer, along with a making-of documentary. "We shot The Interviewer in a day with our students and their mentors and we're extremely happy with the result. We hope this will inspire people and show them that when you give people the opportunity they will rise to the occasion!"
The process of forming her own not-for-profit organisation has been incredibly rewarding for Clay-Smith, who has seen the confidence and passion in her students grow significantly. "You can't believe the joy I get when people in my class start repeating back to me in detail what the difference is between diegetic and non-diegetic sound in a film's sound design!" she laughs.
One of the long term goals Clay-Smith cites is her ambition for Bus Stop Films to one day have its own film festival and for it to be a registered training organisation.
When it comes to the future of Bus Stop Films, Clay-Smith has no doubt that the sky is the limit. "I don't want to put a roof on Bus Stop's goals, I want us to do as much as we can and dream as big as we can."
Picture caption: Chris Dyke, with his mentor, Steadicam Operator Andrew Johnson (who recently worked on Scott Hicks' The Lucky One).