Filmink: All Inclusive

June 2009

“I met my lead actor, Gerard Odwyer, while I was directing a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW,”

Genevieve Clay-Smith

“They have a new project called ‘Up, Up And Away’, which is designed to help young people with Down Syndrome achieve their goals. The first day that I met Gerard, he came out with a Shakespeare soliloquy, along with many other impersonations from his favourite films and television shows. I was astounded. He had such a photographic memory for dialogue. It was his goal to be in a film, so I wanted to help him achieve that.”

Achieve that Genevieve Clay most certainly did. Her short film Be My Brother stars Gerard Odwyer as the loveable Richard, a young man whose charm and charisma challenges the prejudices of a stranger waiting at a bus stop. While he impacts on her world, Richard also impacts on the heart and mind of someone else close by. Be My Brother is fast becoming a minor success story: it made the cut as one of the sixteen finalists for this year’s Tropfest, screening in front of a massive crowd in Sydney’s Domain, as well as various sites around Australia and on national television via Foxtel’s Movie Extra channel. At just twenty-years-old, Newcastle native Genevieve (who currently works at radio station Triple J, and has just completed a degree in Media Arts And Production) was the youngest Tropfest finalist, and her film scored a great response on the night.

Though being screened at Tropfest was a big deal for Clay, she’d already achieved her goals before the film was even selected. The main aim of Be My Brother was to create a wholly inclusive film, which offered opportunities for those who don’t usually appear on-screen. “It’s hard enough for actors without disabilities to get exposure, let alone people with disabilities,” says Clay. “I also wanted to make the project inclusive by providing opportunities for people with disabilities to work as crew members.” This has been a long-held passion for Clay, who is currently involved with Accessible Arts NSW, the peak arts and disability advocacy body in the state, which provides support and opportunities for people with disabilities to engage with the creative arts on many and varied levels. Clay has eighteen short films on her resume (“I’m addicted to telling stories,” she says), and already has another one up and running, which will again be a highly inclusive effort along the same lines as Be My Brother. “My next project will be supported by Metro Screen’s Raw Nerve initiative,” Clay explains. “They also helped me make Be My Brother through their Jump Start grant. This new one will be an inclusive short about two sisters and the importance of choices within life. The lead actress will be Tracie Sammut, who won a Logie for her role as Donna in the ABC-TV series GP.”
After that, however, there’s an even more daunting project, as Genevieve moves into the bigger, slightly more frightening arena of feature filmmaking. The young director is currently in post-production on an as-yet-untitled full-length documentary, which will have its premiere at The Sydney Opera House in October. Her inspiration this time, however, came from a slightly more high-profile source. “I have to blame Baz Luhrmann,” Genevieve laughs of the Australia director. “He was a regular at a fancy bar that I was waitressing at, and he really encouraged me with my ambitions. He even asked to see the films that I’d already made. He told me to, ‘Make stuff and keep making stuff’, so I decided that’s what I’d do. The more films that I make, the better I’ll be. I just love making them!”

For more on Genevieve Clay, head to For more on Tropfest, head to For more on Accessible Arts NSW, head to For more on Metro Screen, head to