Emerging Filmmakers Celebrated at VCA

As students graduating from the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) School of Film and Television showcase their works at their annual screenings, student filmmaker Rachel Ross (Bachelor of Film and Television, 2013) reflects on perfecting her craft while studying.

The annual public screenings are the first chance to see the work of Australia’s best emerging filmmakers before their release to the international film circuit.

Suzy Cato-Gashler as Katharine (Mrs Claus)

Suzy Cato-Gashler as Katharine (Mrs Claus) in Misgivings

The VCA has been a nurturing and inspiring hub of converging artistic disciplines and emerging filmmaking talent. By third year we have developed our own individual voices as writers and directors, having spent the first few years discovering our limitations and where our strengths and skills lie.


Rachel Ross

For myself, I flourished as a writer. Writing is like working a muscle; it must be trained and practiced. My year began with a half dozen good ideas each crying out to be developed further. The challenge was to back one and develop it in time to meet the ever-encroaching production deadline.

Having worked so closely with our classmates, including crewing each other’s films, we developed a short hand for communicating and an understanding of one another’s innate styles and workflows.

By third year, this served us well when we embraced the experience of collaboration, and forged new relationships with industry professionals and volunteers. For a student director working with a crew, most of whom have had more on set experience than us, it’s an overwhelming process.

All the more overwhelming is the outpouring of generosity from cast, crew, communities and businesses alike and the people who volunteer their time, put up with the disruption to their lives and trade, lend us their homes and premises to help facilitate production, all to assist bringing our stories to life.

I also had the great opportunity to work on my lecturer Andrew O’Keefe’s second feature film, Crime & Punishment over the summer break. After forging relationships with the cast and crew, I reunited with them on my graduating film Misgivings, working with cinematographer Mark Morris, production designer Mel Koomen, and production manager Amelia Smith.

John Orcsik as Nicholas (Father Christmas)

John Orcsik as Nicholas (Father Christmas) in Misgivings

The screening at ACMI is the final send off to our graduation and the launch of our films’ festival lives. To have the opportunity to share the movie-going experience with a local audience is gratifying, it’s an experience we might otherwise miss as our films hope to grace interstate and international screens.

My short, Misgivings, is about Mr and Mrs Claus coming to terms with their grief at not being able to conceive children. I’ve also been developing my first feature spec script, a dark, gritty Christmas film that fits a niche market I intend to tap.

Aside from the skills learnt, what I will take with me from my experience studying at the VCA is a classroom of close friends and fellow filmmakers and a growing index of networking connections.

– Rachel Ross (Bachelor of Film and Television, 2013)

The VCA Film and TV Graduate Screenings 2013 take place from Friday 13 December – Sunday 15 December. 

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