• Be More

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!

The girl behind the lens: Vanessa

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

in film?

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

for myself!

Q: If you could speak to your 13 year old self, what would you

tell her?

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.



Vanessa in her element!