An existential foray into life’s improbability led Vanessa Gazy to writing and directing this dark, ethereal short which will premiere at Flickerfest 2019.
The decisions we make in life are our defining characteristics. They’re what make us, us. Going back and changing anything could result in the re-imagining of our existence. It’s a theme that has been explored before, but in Vanessa’s short it’s experienced through the lens of a dreamlike, ethereal lens and that’s what makes it so affecting.
“It came from this curiosity I’ve always had with the accident of life,” Vanessa says. “The possibility of us all coming into existence are all so small. If you think about the chances that your parents happen to meet when they meet, you were conceived on the day you were conceived, the sperm meeting with that egg. I just think it’s incredible that I’m me in this body.”
The film opens with a violent confrontation between a father and son, watched on by a fearful mother and daughter. From here we follow Shiloh, played by the incredibly powerful actress Megan Smart, enter a darkly surreal world where the choices she makes will have a profound effect on her own existence.
“I wanted to explore this question around stopping your parents existing, but then what happens to me?” Vanessa says. “Will I still be a someone, or will I be a ghost or a shadow of what I might have been? I felt like I was trying to answer one of my biggest questions, a huge existential question around what is a soul and what is existence and would she still exist or would she be nobody?”
Shot by Cinematographer Ross Giardina, Vanessa manages to translate her ambitious vision to reality through the use of powerful imagery and moody lighting. “Ross was great,” Vanessa says. “He really understood it straight away. It moved him, he’s got a real sense of family. He understood what we needed. It had to be beautiful and lyrical and poetic in the visual interpretation. His style is already incredibly moody and poetic. He’s drawn to the darkness in his work. I couldn’t have done it without Ross.”
The 16 minute film, which successfully explores these huge concepts, has caught the eye of the judges at Flickerfest, which is no mean feat. Beginning in 1991, Flickerfest is one of Australia’s leading competitive short film festivals and many filmmakers are seeing it as an entry point to the world stage. This is Vanessa’s second short film to have its premiere at the event and she couldn’t be happier.
“Flickerfest is an amazing festival and has the most beautiful venue right on Bondi Beach,” she says. “They’ve been incredibly supportive of me and my films. Both of them had their Australian premieres at Flickerfest. I really love the festival and I’m excited to screen there again, especially because it’s a local festival it’s great to get all your friends and family there.”
Another of Vanessa’s short films, a story about a hitchhiker escaping a fatal prophecy on a remote mountain, is now being adapted into a feature film funded by Screen Australia. “It’s based on my previous short film ‘Highway’, which is more of a psychological thriller,” she reveals. It’s a mysterious little short film, which kind of surprised me how far it’s gone. It went to several film festivals around the world, it got me representation and a great manager in LA and through that I was encouraged to get a concept up for a feature. Once I had a good concept we found great producers in Goalpost Pictures. That’s just been an amazing process so far. It’s extremely exciting.”
‘Shiloh’ is showing at Flickerfest, which plays Bondi Pavilion from 11-20 January.