Triple-threat Emily De Margheriti helping Canberra’s film industry flourish. | HerCanberra

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Triple-threat Emily De Margheriti helping Canberra’s film industry flourish.

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Reflecting on her time attending high school and college in Canberra, actor Emily De Margheriti admits something that makes her cringe: she would film absolutely everything.

And while she was obsessed with dance—spending years training at the Canberra Dance Development Centre—it was these self-made movies of science experiments, and ads for her marketing class, that set her onto her future career path.

“It was crazy when I think about it now. I used to either fail or get 100 per cent because it was entertaining. I did it with science—I would film the experiments instead of writing it down,” she says, with an incredulous smile.

“Even when I was a kid I would film myself dressing up as zookeepers and send that in. The most embarrassing thing was in Year 10 I used to dress up for my speeches—I thought it would be less embarrassing to dress up as Edward III…it’s funny because I feel like I’ve always been acting.”

Despite the second-hand embarrassment she experiences now, Emily’s life-long creativity has served her well. A triple-threat actor, dancer, and writer who’s brimming with talent, it’s no surprise that her first movie (I Hate Kids directed by John Asher) launched her into the glittering world of Hollywood.

Having now graced the screen in the acclaimed period drama Ladies in Black directed by Bruce Beresford and—most recently—starred in the darkly comedic and unnervingly savage Australian horror movie Sissy her work has taken her around the world from South Korea to New Orleans.

But as she catches up with HerCanberra from Sydney before heading to an audition for a new indie film, even a computer camera can’t miss the shine in her dark brown eyes as she talks about her passion for facilitating work for creatives in Canberra.

“As soon as I got into my first movie, I went to Hollywood. And I’ve been working in Hollywood, Canberra, and Sydney ever since. I try to bring all the work to Canberra, utilise the talent in Canberra, and help build the industry in Canberra,” she says.

“I’m trying to build it with my family as well. They’re trying to build a studio in Canberra—they make computer games and they decided to go into VFX because they knew I was doing two films. So now it’s kind of aligning.”

A co-founder of DEMS Entertainment (an Australian independent theatre/film production company headquartered in Canberra and Los Angeles), Emily has also added the title ‘Producer’ to her impressive resume. Passionate about producing talent-driven, studio-quality genre feature films, she started the venture with her familywho are also the founders of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) in Watson.

And while she loves acting, it’s her new journey into filmmaking and producing at both the AIE and DEMS Entertainment that sees Emily exploring a new passion: choosing what stories to tell and giving aspiring writers, producers, and actors a place where they can learn.

“I suppose it’s interesting because I feel like just being an actor is not fulfilling enough for me. I think I need to have some control over the story and picking the story and developing the story,” she says.

“Sometimes, when I read a script as an actor that I get from my manager, it’s really hard because I want to change it. There are things in the script that I notice and think, ‘This needs to be changed or this doesn’t lend well in this climate right now or this needs a stronger women’s point of view.’ When it’s a script that’s sent to our production company, I can ask them if they’ll make these tweaks.”

Photography: Luke Dubbelde.

As well as reading and reviewing scripts while splitting her time between Canberra and LA, another project Emily is working on is creating a large virtual production studio at the AIE to take their film and virtual production courses to the next level and open doors to creating fantasy and sci-fi films in Canberra.

But until the AIE can bring the world (real and fantasy) to creatives, what Emily loves about the local industry is the untapped potential.

“I also like it being a little secret as well because we can make some incredible films there,” she says with a laugh. “But honestly, Monica Penders at Screen Canberra, she’s doing amazing things as well, and there are so many writers and directors that I know in the industry.”

“I think people will see it for itself, we’ll be creating more films, there’ll be more students coming in and more people will start to realisealready people have started to shoot there more! I don’t think we need to do much, I think the proof is in the pudding.”

And if the reviews of devilishly clever Sissy—which was filmed in Canberra and features many locations locals know and loveare anything to go by, the pudding is looking very, very good.

While she admits she has plenty of producing, filmmaking, and acting work to keep her busy, Emily reveals she’s another kind of triple threat: a teacher, leader, and friend.

Kindly offering to help aspiring actors or filmmakers in Canberra who would like to reach out and pick her brain, her passion for the capital shines through again as she says she’s always happy to talk and work with local creatives.

“If there are any writers that have scripts or feature film ideas, don’t be afraid to send them to me, I’m always keen to read things. And actors that want to reach out as wellI’m always happy to talk with people,” she says.

Always looking for the perfect script to film in Canberra and the talent to go along with it, there isn’t a particular marker that proves the capital is the ideal location for studio-quality filmsif there was Emily says she would write it herself.

But when asked what her main advice is for local creatives looking to break into the industry, she thinks for a moment before saying “If you love it, keep at it.”

“You need to get thick skin because it’s tough, the industry is not the easiest. But it is possibleI didn’t realise how possible it could be. But I feel that everything’s coming to Canberra now too, so keep creating stuff in Canberra…you just have to keep working.”

Photography: Luke Dubbelde.

Hair: Brad Mullins

Make-up: Joel Phillips 

Stylist: Aubree Smith

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