The Girl Behind The Lens: Vanessa Papastavros
We had a great heart to heart with the winner of our 2019 Film Contest, and we are so excited for you to get to know her as well. You can watch her winning video submission here.
Q: Tell us about yourself!
A: I’m Vanessa, yet seeing as we’re friends, you can call me Van. I’m a 23 year old harking from Sydney, Australia. I have always been a creative soul and have
been telling stories through film, art and writing for as long as I can
remember. I live for my numerous hobbies—I have an art instagram
@vanscribbles that keeps my restless hands busy; I have written, starred in
and directed plays; I have made a few short films; I write a ridiculous amount
of Harry Potter fanfiction; I love academia and will be a bit nerdy whenever
the opportunity presents itself.
Q: What influences your creative style and how you did you get started
A: I’m a bit of a sponge – I soak up whatever I am currently exposing myself to
and use it in my work, meaning that my influences are always shifting. I love
whimsy and marvelous realism. It’s called movie magic for a reason, after all!
Cinema allows us to express and share visions, to forge connections, to tell
stories and (perhaps due to the way my brain is wired) I love to lean into the
fantastical elements of shared imagination.
My interests in film and animation began when I was in high school, where I
would write and shoot some truly bizarre stuff. At university, I studied Media
and Communications with a major in film production, and went on to achieve
first class honours in my academic study of female villains in animation.
Whether I’m watching it, writing about it or making it, television and film are
a true place of joy and storytelling for me.
Q: What inspired you in the making of your video submission?
A: Social media has spawned a new visual culture. I wanted to use the frames and
filters associated with social media to express how constricting mediated
messages around body image are.
I am an instagram filter fiend; I obsessively edit my photos before posting. I
am aware that without moderation, these elements of image sharing warp our
perception of reality.
I drew from my personal experiences of struggling with body image and
considered how social media caused my low self-esteem to fester, especially
when I was younger. I wanted to tease these negative thoughts out in a way
that drew on the visual culture that incubates them. It was a wake up call even
Q: If you could speak to your 13 year old self, what would you
A: Ah. My thirteen-year-old self was full of self-loathing. I don’t think any
amount of advice would have deterred the noxious self-pity I used to languish
in at thirteen. Yet if I stood before her now, I would try to impress upon my
younger self that her value did not lie in being beautiful, desirable or even
likeable. That she should not waste time and energy obsessing over
appearances or striving for perfection. I think it would have been most
important to tell her that she was loved unconditionally, and the best
moments of life are found in grace, in vulnerability, in silliness, in generosity
and in the lessons learned from mistakes. While my thirteen-year-old self was
very unkind to herself, I am thankful that she became the person I am today.
Q: What do you commit to "Be More" of?
A: I want to be more positive, to myself and to the way I interact with people in
the world. It is something I have struggled with but life is definitely best spent
living with enthusiasm and joy.
I want to be more self-aware, because self-awareness brings humility,
authenticity and growth.
I want to be more loving, because I think that the truest expression of life is
one rooted in love for the people around you and for yourself.