A short film that sounds like it's about a vampire – but really isn’t – could land Otford film-maker Anya Beyersdorf a lucrative prize.
The writer and director entered Vampir for the Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.
She’s been named one of 20 Australian finalists for one of four fellowships that will give her a $50,000 budget with which to make her next short film and to have it premiere at next year’s Sydney Film Festival.
“It’s a huge deal,” Beyersdorf said, “particularly in Australia, where we really don’t have many chances for emerging film-makers to get a budget, work with a crew and make a film.”
Vampir, the film Beyersdorf entered, has yet to premiere so she’s understandably not keen to reveal too much about it.
“It’s actually not a vampire movie, contrary to the name,” she said.
“It’s a film about appearances. It’s about a guy who comes into town and all the local youth don’t understand him. He looks a bit freaky so they all think he’s a vampire.
“It’s about judging people and turning expectations on their head.”
Vampir is her second short film. Her first, Gayby (not to be confused with Gayby Baby) has screened at Tropfest, and film festivals in Seattle and Rhode Island.
“Fellowship finalist” isn’t the only honour on Beyersdorf’s CV. She’s also been shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and won an Australian Writers’ Guild award.
Ahead of its premiere, Vampir won an Australian Cinematographers Society award for Best Cinematography.
Beyersdorf started out as an actor, appearing in a number of short films before she got a desire to move behind the camera.
“I like to think that I’ve moved on from being an actress,” she said.
“That was a thing I enjoyed doing in my 20s but now I’m more interested in writing and directing.
“I like being in control of what I’m trying to say with my art. For years as an actress I was quite frustrated by the lack of solid roles available for women. You’re always playing a girlfriend or someone’s mum and I’m interested in telling a deeper story than that.
“If I have to write to do it, then that’s what I’ll do. Not to act in but to tell stories with interesting protagonists that might happen to be female too.”
Beyersdorf has only been an Otford resident for less than a year, choosing to move down from Sydney.
But in that time, she’s very much fallen in love with the place.
“You’ve got more space to think and you’re not fighting with other people in Bronte for a car park,” she said.
“You can spend less time doing city things and just be inspired by the beauty of the surroundings.”