Writing, directing & producing - Stef Smith’s tips for nailing the Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund, News

Writing, directing & producing - Stef Smith’s tips for nailing the Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund

Should I? Shouldn’t I? Stef Smith shares the how and why of applying for Create NSW Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund (GEFF).


Joy Boy was one of six films selected for funding and screened on SBS to help celebrate 40 years of Mardi Gras. How did you ensure your application stood out in a very competitive field?

It’s truly impossible to know what the competition will be, so my advice is to not focus on that aspect at all. Just do the absolute best you can with the tools you have on hand. I was lucky enough to be shortlisted in 2016 and then successful in 2017, but even applying and failing taught me so much.

In 2017 we submitted a beautiful script, a realistic budget, a 50-page Director’s treatment including cast, heads of department and my creative vision for the film, so Create NSW and SBS could see what they were investing in. 50-pages is probably overkill… but I’m a perfectionist weirdo.
Most importantly - be yourself. Everyone at Create NSW has been so nurturing and supportive of my early career development, so there was really nothing to be afraid of.


What would you say to someone wanting to apply, but uncertain their film proposal is strong enough?

Just be as prepared as you possibly can and then let the rest go. Creativity is subjective. Make sure the film you are pitching reflects a story believe in and want to tell.

I firmly believe I will always be learning in this industry; always working to become a better storyteller. Don’t feel like you must have all the answers. You won’t know if you are in with a chance if you don’t even bother to apply. If there is ever a funding opportunity and you fit the selection criteria - apply. All you lose is time and you will learn so much in the application process alone. The pros far outweigh the cons.


What tips do you have for people thinking about applying for this year’s Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund?

Know your story. Know your characters. Know why you are telling this story, what is it about this world, these people, why do their challenges appeal to you? Why are you uniquely equipped to tell this story? Have some practical ideas about how you are going to pull it off and solve the inevitable list of problems that are going to be thrown at you in the many stages of production.

This kind of opportunity is rare, so take it. Do the work. Be bold. Swear a lot. Eat lots of chocolate. Drink lots of tea. Make a great film.
Honestly, GEFF is worth applying to for the people you get to meet alone. The gorgeous film you make is the cherry on top.


What projects are you working on now?

Listing this out makes me sound like a maniac workaholic who never sleeps… But I do sleep. Sleep is great!

I’ve just entered post-production for three new projects; another big commercial, a music video and a drama/sci-fi short film about love and the importance of human connection made inclusively with my students at Bus Stop Films. Two series I have created are in development; a mystery/drama series supported by Create NSW and a comedy/sci-fi series with brilliant Joy Boy producer Belinda Dean. I am completing a Director’s Attachment on the second season of ABC TV series The Letdown, I also did Season One, so it’s very nice to be back. In 2019 I’ll be hoping to keep directing and learning and making stuff I love with people I love. Some of those people are my peers from other funded GEFF projects… So I guess I owe Create NSW thanks for not only the support in my career so far, but also the filmmakers I now know as a result. Like speed dating, but for new collaborators.


Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund
The Create NSW and SBS/NITV GENERATOR: EMERGING FILMMAKERS FUND 2018/2019 is open to short film proposals of 5-15 min maximum duration, with at least one, preferably two Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander key creatives (writer, producer, director).

Follow this link more information and to apply:


Image: Joy Boy Director Stef Smith blocks the Happy Birthday Scene. Photo by: Geoff Jaeger.

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