Two Female Canberra Filmmakers Developing TV Projects With Offspring's Producer


Two Canberra filmmakers, Vanessa Gazy and Clare Young, will be working with the producer of Offspring, Imogen Banks, to develop new television projects with a view to getting them into production.

Screen Australia has been working to address the gender imbalance in the film and television industries through its Gender Matters: Brilliant Careers and Brilliant Stories funding streams.
One initiative, Endemol Shine Australia’s Smart For a Girl – ROAR, asked applicants for a TV series idea with a strong female lead written by women. Five projects were chosen for development from more than 935 submissions received from around Australia and two of those five were from the ACT.

Screen Canberra chief executive officer Monica Penders said of Gazy and Young “Canberra is punching way above its weight. They did it, they’re very talented.”

She said both women had received funding from Screen Canberra over the years through the ACT government-funded Screen Arts Fund and Screen Development Fund “and it shows just what an impact development funding at the crucial time can have on a career”.

Gazy’s project is ID, a psychological thriller about a a woman investigating the disappearance of her estranged identical twin sister and Young’s is Unruly Girls, a dramatisation of the 1961 riots at Parramatta Girls Home.

Young’s films include From the Bottom of the Lake, a film about the making of Jane Campion’s series Top of the Lake, filmed while she was working as Campion’s assistant.

She said in 2007 she made a documentary for the ABC’s Stateline, Eyes Down and Welcome to Hay, about Hay Jail. It was opened in 1961 in response to the riots and after interviewing some of the rioting “girls”, as they still called themselves, she was inspired to conduct further research. She discovered that behind the reported riots lay many stories of corruption and abuse, often of young women who didn’t deserve to be imprisoned in the first place but were sentenced because of perceived “moral danger”.

Gazy said she had come up with the idea for ID in 2014 while doing her Masters in Screen Arts (Directing)at the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

She said her story about a woman obsessed with uncovering the fate of her estranged twin would present a casting challenge.

“Ideally you’d find identical twins, or you might find one amazing actress,” she said.

She said the skill of Australian special effects artists and the state of the art was such that one actress could perform the dual role – in fact, as there would be flashbacks, more than one set of twins or dual performances would be required to show the characters at different ages.

Both women were excited about the opportunity that was being presented to them. Gazy said it felt like a lot of hard work was beginning to pay off.