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Women at Work: Vanessa Gazy

Laura Peppas

She’s worked on films in Paris and London but award-winning director, writer and producer Vanessa Gazy has always been drawn to her hometown; Canberra.

“I have always adored the landscape here and the landscape of my childhood, and I’ve found I’ve always ended up coming back to Canberra in my work,” Vanessa says.

The 29 year old recently finished directing her fourth short film, Foal, shot in Canberra’s Namadji National Park.

The 24 minute period film has just been submitted as an entrant to the Sundance Film Festival.

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“They get 8,000 entries a year so I’m not holding my breath, but I have my fingers crossed,” says Vanessa.

“That’s definitely a goal of mine – to stand on stage at Sundance for something I’ve directed.”

Born in Sydney, Vanessa moved to Canberra with her family, attending St Clare’s College.

She studied a degree in communications at Sydney University and worked as a production assistant for travel show Getaway, before deciding to take the leap into the film industry.

Her big break came during a trip to Paris in 2010, when she directed her first film.

“That was really my first taste of the film industry, and the moment I realised this was what I wanted to pursue,” Vanessa says.

“I think it was always a dream, I was always a writer and that was something I could always do comfortably. When you write a script and then go on to direct it, it’s bringing it to life. It only exists in your head before that – it breathes humanity and life into your work.”

During her travels Vanessa produced a film, Chapel Perilous, which ended up winning the Sundance Audience Award in 2014.

The same year she completed a Master of Screen Arts (Directing) at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and was awarded the School’s prestigious Kenneth B Myer Award for Exceptional Talent upon graduating.

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Vanessa’s upcoming short film Highway was the recipient of the Screen ACT Arts fund in 2014 and is currently in post-production. She has also directed a commercial for Canberra’s own Fashfest, and was recently the recipient of the Screen ACT Arts Grant for the development of a “psychological thriller” miniseries under the writing mentorship of Australian director Luke Davies.

“Canberra is such a supportive community, in particular Screen ACT been amazing for me,” she says.

“I’m really proud to be from Canberra and an emerging filmmaker, because what we really need as filmmakers is that support, it’s enabled me to push forward and given me the freedom to write and think and do what I want to do.”

Vanessa says she would love to follow in the footsteps of other female directors in the industry such as Cate Shortland and Jane Campion.

“I really admire them, it’s great to have such strong women paving the way in this industry, while managing other priorities in their lives – I really look up to that,” she says.


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author