Health

Changing hearts and minds with Genevieve Clay-Smith

Changing hearts and minds with Genevieve Clay-Smith

written by

Shevonne Hunt



Changing Hearts And Minds With Genevieve Clay Smith

Image: Supplied


Genevieve Clay-Smith used to be excellent 18 when she committed to shaking up the film industrial. Now, the director advocates for oldsters with disabilities thru her award-a success films.

Genevieve Clay-Smith spent her childhood ensconced in the inventive world of Young Other folks’s Theatre in her home town of Cardiff, Newcastle. When she wasn’t improvising alongside with her theatre company, she used to be spending lunch breaks immersed in writing tales — extra compelled by the worlds she used to be rising on the internet page than the kids taking half in exterior.

Location on making it as an actor, Clay-Smith delved right into a Media Arts and Manufacturing stage at the College of Technology in Sydney, drawn by the foundation that she might perhaps well well better herself as an actor from in the assist of the digicam — it didn’t gain long for her to grasp that used to be where she belonged.

Stars aligned

In 2008, Clay-Smith used to be shriveled to realize a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW. She used to be to employ six folk with trisomy 21 (the hottest duration of time for oldsters with Down syndrome) as they pursued their job of quite a lot of. At some stage in the 18-month-long mission, Clay-Smith witnessed different barriers to employment for oldsters with trisomy 21 and the folk fascinating to abet them alongside the capability.

“I started to gain this sense of social justice; that it is probably you’ll perhaps well well in actuality comprise a incompatibility with what you possess gotten got to your palms,” she says. “Other folks were volunteering their time to utter any person how it is probably you’ll perhaps well well cook dinner or to point out for any person of their place of work so that they might perhaps perhaps perhaps gain a job. They were in actuality changing lives. That used to be in actuality impacting for me.”

At some stage in her closing 365 days of faculty, Clay-Smith made up our minds to set aside her rising ideas about social justice into apply using the tools she had at her disposal: a college training, gain entry to to digicam equipment and a fancy of storytelling.

Movie and tv offer an odd quite a lot of to interchange hearts and minds. For Clay-Smith, film-making is intrinsically linked to human rights.

The celebrities aligned. Actor Gerard O’Dwyer had joined the documentary for Down Syndrome NSW leisurely in the program. The predominant time Clay-Smith met O’Dwyer, he launched right into a soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet. Clay-Smith used to be captivated; she invited O’Dwyer to realize a film alongside with her alongside six crew participants with disabilities. The , Be My Brother, received easiest film at Tropfest in 2009 and O’Dwyer received easiest actor. The film’s success had a huge influence on O’Dwyer and boosted Clay-Smith’s drive to bring extra fluctuate to mainstream monitors.

“[O’Dwyer] had been told awful things thru his childhood and young maturity. You wouldn’t mediate it now, however he suffered from an absence of self perception on the living of Be My Brother,” she says. “That used to be a defining moment for him in his lifestyles. And I concept I might perhaps well well attain that consistently and again. And the device shining would that be? To employ my ardour and transform lives and with any luck, at some level, the film industrial as well.”

“I felt this true pang of injustice because I started to possess my eyes opened to likely the most concerns with our film industrial,” she says. “All people’s tales must learn and told authentically, no longer for the sake of benefiting one film-maker at the pinnacle of the hierarchy. It well-known to be equitable, and I realised how it used to be very unfamiliar.”

Fork in the boulevard

A success Tropfest used to be the starting of a tumultuous 365 days for Clay-Smith. It started with a prestigious award and a right job at the ABC, however by the wreck of the 365 days she used to be employed as a waitress and struggling to get work in film.

It used to be at the moment Clay-Smith met one of Australia’s easiest agents. Her advice? Descend the ambition for making inclusive films. “She checked out me admire I had two heads. She stated that I might perhaps perhaps on no account possess a profession in the film industrial, that it excellent sounded admire some good Community Arts program,” says Clay-Smith. “She in most cases stated I’d be pigeonholed as the girl who handiest ever makes films about Down syndrome, that I’d on no account gain a gig because folk don’t must note those films. I was so disquieted and injure by that belief, I had an real fork in the boulevard moment.”

Clay-Smith toyed with the foundation of taking a extra passe path to turning right into a director, however her success with Be My Brother and her work with Down Syndrome NSW lingered. “It gave me extra motive in my film-making profession, it started to be larger than excellent me attempting to be a well-known film director,” she says. “I might perhaps well well note that I might perhaps well well in actuality comprise an real incompatibility in folk’s lives thru my ardour for film-making. And that used to be something I couldn’t ignore.”

A special quite a lot of

The agonize with mainstream film and TV, says Clay-Smith, is that it’s too homogenous. “If we’re handiest seeing white folk on tv, the message to folk that are no longer white is that you just don’t matter passable to be on our monitors and your tales don’t matter. It’s very negative. Movie-making is the industrial of storytelling and everyone needs to be heard, because diversified folk must feel validated.”

Movie and tv offer an odd quite a lot of to interchange hearts and minds. For Clay-Smith, film-making is intrinsically linked to human rights: “You gain to be in a pores and skin of any individual else for an hour whenever you’re looking out at a film,” she says. “You gain to abilities first-hand what they wade thru. How will you then ignore the assorted or invitation to be an ally to that neighborhood and lift your say when the vote comes?”

“I learned rather a lot about being vulnerable with folk. Having mentors and being very moral and open about what used to be going on and no longer attempting to be a lone soldier.”

If she used to be going to shake up the industrial, Clay-Smith knew she needed to interchange the capability she approached no longer excellent the parable, however the system of manufacturing itself. As a replacement of a hierarchical growth where the director is king, she envisioned a extra equitable system where the director is open to ideas from a numerous crew. “It’s a truly diversified measure of success. It measures success from a human viewpoint, and how folk are handled, how folk are incorporated, and how folk can growth their very maintain profession pathways thru being worried and mentored,” she says. “I continuously argue that it is probably you’ll perhaps well well gain a huge film, an bright award-a success film, and it is probably you’ll perhaps well well contend with folk well and encompass folk at the same time, it’s probably to realize both.”

Fuelled by the success of Be My Brother, Clay-Smith and her producer on the film Eleanor Winkler co-founded Bus Live Movies. The firm used to be to reimagine the abilities of oldsters with disabilities within the mainstream. “One of many supreme stigmas that stopped folk with incapacity attaining in lifestyles is other folk’s low expectations of them,” she says. “When we possess low expectations of oldsters with incapacity, we rep them of their quite a lot of to reach their paunchy doable. I’ve continuously stated at Bus Live Movies, I genuinely possess excessive expectations of everyone.”

The realm stage

One of Bus Live Movie’s predominant supporters and member of the Arts Council of Mongolia, Roger Perry OAM, encouraged Clay-Smith to gain the firm out of the country. Looking ahead to adventure, Clay-Smith flew to Mongolia to better realize how the program at Bus Live Movies might perhaps well well translate into Mongolian culture.

It used to be obvious Mongolia used to be 40 years in the assist of the Incapacity Rights Motion; there used to be a cultural perception that participants with kids born with a incapacity had done something substandard in a previous lifestyles. “I learned that [Bus Stop Films] might perhaps well well in actuality abet no longer handiest folk with incapacity to reach their paunchy doable and uncover their tales, however the parable in and of itself might perhaps well well abet to influence society and what they mediate of disabilities,” says Clay-Smith.

The program used to be a success and finally led to extra alternatives out of the country. Clay-Smith’s other firm Fashion Creative received a contract with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to realize a tourism film and Clay-Smith point out the foundation to realize an inclusive film.

Shakespeare in Tokyo follows a young man with trisomy 21 (played by Gerard O’Dwyer) as he escapes his brother to explore Tokyo on his maintain. The though-provoking segment of the mission, says Clay-Smith, used to be convincing the customer they might perhaps perhaps perhaps comprise a film with an inclusive crew: “I well-known to convince them that it wasn’t going to compromise manufacturing. When I’d shown them the evidence that it used to be probably, they were right with it.”

Staying afloat

Bus Live Movies used to be in the swing of rising fine, poignant films that were shaking up the industrial, however the industrial used to be constructed on an fully unsustainable, no longer-for-revenue model; the duo didn’t if truth be told possess a advertising and marketing strategy in intention. Clay-Smith’s vision had purchased the firm this far, however now that they needed to fight to withhold Bus Live Movies afloat.

“I’m able to’t uncover you the amount of tears I’ve cried over Bus Live,” says Clay-Smith. “My supreme dread used to be that Bus Live would live and die with me. Discovering a model to know it sustainable used to be the supreme stress I had for nine years, because I knew I couldn’t withhold doing it forever. And if I’m the supreme one doing it, then how can we boost the reach of the work?”

There were never-ending meetings with philanthropists and study into systems to realize the industrial sustainable. And, among them, many dusky nights of the soul, where Clay-Smith wondered what it will probably probably perhaps well well mean if she excellent stopped doing the work. “I learned rather a lot about being vulnerable with folk. Having mentors and being very moral and open about what used to be going on and no longer attempting to be a lone soldier. I learned that sharing the burden used to be in actuality important,” she says.

Finally, the Nationwide Incapacity Insurance coverage Scheme that started its roll-out in 2016 saved the firm. It supposed college students might perhaps well well pay for his or her classes at Bus Live Movies. After 10 years of working the firm, Clay-Smith used to be ready to step aside and lunge on the reigns to a brand unusual CEO while last on the board.

Despite all the pieces, there is so mighty extra for her to realize. “My philosophy is that we’re no longer excellent right here to possess a profession,” she says. “We’re right here to have interaction with other folk and abet comprise the sector as right as it will probably probably perhaps well well even be for others in our sphere.”


Clay-Smith remains to be troubled with Bus Live Movies and is in the mean time planning long-kind utter with the firm. Nonetheless her right legacy are the lives she has transformed on her chase of bringing extra fluctuate to our monitors.