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Podcast – Vanessa Gazy: creating TV at home and abroad

Writer Vanessa Gazy on creating new Stan Original series Eden, developing TV with Netflix, and how to nail a pitch.

Splice of a still from Eden and Vanessa Gazy's headshot.

Eden, Vanessa Gazy

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

A key piece of career advice from writer Vanessa Gazy is simple: apply.

Gazy says it was applying for a new initiative after completing her Masters at AFTRS that has helped propel her career to where it is now.

The initiative was the Gender Matters program Smart For a Girl: ROAR, which was run by producer Imogen Banks and writer Alice Bell, and designed to give 15 emerging writers the chance to kick-start their career.

As Gazy explains on the latest episode of the Screen Australia Podcast, her one-page idea (which was selected from the 935 applications) went into a writers’ room, she was supported to write a pilot episode, and it was then one of the concepts Banks pitched to Netflix while in the US. It was also the concept Netflix jumped at. They read the pilot, and the series Id has been in development at Netflix since.

But the snowball of opportunities hadn’t stopped rolling yet.

“Through the existence of that pilot, which wouldn't have come about if not for that initiative, that was then a writing sample I was able to give to the producers of Eden when I was approached by them to create a show,” Gazy says. “And so that pilot got me the job on Eden.”

Eden, which was filmed entirely in the NSW Northern Rivers region during 2020, is produced by both Every Cloud Productions (of the Miss Fishers franchise) and Balloon Entertainment, the production company run by Skins creator Brian Elsely. It’s set in an idyllic coastal town, where the disappearance of a young woman rocks the seemingly carefree community and kicks off a chain of events that take audiences into the darker underbelly of the town and its inhabitants.

Throughout the episode, Gazy talks about how the chance to create, executive produce and write on Eden came about; having four days to write a bible; working with the all-female writing team of Jessica Brittain, Anya Beyersdorf, Penelope Chai and Clare Sladden; as well as pitching the series to Stan and her advice for anyone going into a pitch meeting.

“I don't think I actually hate the act of pitching - that can actually be quite enjoyable - I think the idea of pitching makes me nervous and I'm trying to find ways to overcome that,” Gazy says.

“What I really learnt is prepare, go back over the material, get it in your head, get it in your bones, feel it again, and just try to get yourself back into that place you were when you were writing it.”

She says that preparation is key to making it a conversation. “I think if you put that paper down and just try to sort of engage eye to eye with the people you're talking to and get excited, then you kind of get swept up in the story anyway and forget that you're even pitching.”

All eight episodes of Eden are available on Stan now.

Subscribe to Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

Audio Transcript

[00:00:05] Caris Bizzaca Welcome to the Screen Australia podcast. I'm Caris Bizzaca, a journalist with Screen Australia's is online publication Screen News. On this episode of the podcast, we are joined by Vanessa Gazy, the creator, executive producer and writer on the new Stan original series Eden, which is streaming on stand now. Eden is set in an idyllic coastal town where the disappearance of a young woman rocks the seemingly carefree community and kicks off a chain of events that takes viewers into the dark underbelly of the town and its inhabitants. Filmed entirely in New South Wales' Northern Rivers region during 2020, it's produced by both Every Cloud Productions - who you'd know for the Miss Fisher's Franchise - and Balloon Entertainment, the production company run by Brian Elsley, one of the creators of British teen drama Skins. Throughout the episode, Vanessa talks about how she got her big break through the Gender Matters Initiative ROAR: Smart Like a Girl and how that led to developing the series Id with Netflix. Vanessa also talks about how Eden came about, pitching the series to Stan and her advice for anyone going into a pitch meeting, as well as what she has learnt from working in the fast-paced world of television. Remember, you can subscribe to the Screen Australia podcast through places like iTunes and Spotify. If you have any feedback, send it to [email protected] . You can also subscribe to Screen Australia's e-newsletter and we'll send you all the latest articles, videos, funding announcements and more once a fortnight. Now here's Vanessa Gazy, the creator, executive producer and writer on the new Stan  original series Eden. 

[00:01:50] Caris Bizzaca First of all, can you tell me a little bit about your background in the industry, and some of the projects that you've worked on? 

[00:01:57] Vanessa Gazy Yeah, so I guess my main background before I started sort of moving into TV, which has been the most recent sort of thing I've been working on - TV screenwriting, series creation - was short films. Writing and directing short films. So that's kind of where I really started from. And it's definitely a very different world, writing and directing versus the big wide world of TV. 

[00:02:24] Caris Bizzaca And how how did you then kind of go from, you know, working on short films to working in Australian television? 

[00:02:35] Vanessa Gazy So the short films sort of came organically. As I you know, I went to AFTRS, I did my masters and I started making short films. And meanwhile, I was always writing longer form things because I think, you know, you always make short films in the hope of making a longer film or something else. And meanwhile, I remember when I was at AFTRS, someone came in and spoke to us and said, 'you would all be very silly not to be considering television right now. This is the way things are going', which was, yes, very prescient actually, because that's exactly what's happened. And so I also started developing a TV show in my year at AFTRS, just a very broad strokes idea. And then when Screen Australia had their big Gender Matters initiative, there was the Smart for a Girl programme, which was Imogen Banks and Alice Bell's initiative to get more uncredited female writers in, you know, because it's quite hard to get your foot in there. So I submitted that one page idea that I developed at film school and got selected. And then  it was this amazing thing that I got a writers' room put around me to develop this idea. And it was top class professional writers. I got to experience leading my own room, you know, from someone who'd never even been in a writers' room to being in your own room, working with these incredible minds in such a supportive environment. And out of that came the pilot for Id, which is sort of the first pilot I'd ever written. And I didn't even know that that was part of the funding. I just thought that the funding was a writers' room. And I was excited enough already-

[00:04:21] Caris Bizzaca Developing the idea. 

[00:04:21] Vanessa Gazy Yeah, I was I remember I was at Palm Springs Film Festival and I got the call from Imogen and it was like, 'oh, I can't pick up this call because it's from Australia. It's going to cost me some money.' But then I did. And it was Imogen and I just remember feeling ecstatic that just this idea of having a writers' room around my thing. And then at the end when I got given a contract saying, 'and now we're going to pay you to develop it into a pilot', I just that felt like winning the lottery. It was just 'really? You going to pay me to write this?' So, yeah, then that was amazing because I wrote that pilot with a lot of great support from Imogen, who's wonderful, she's just been kind of like a fairy godmother for me, you know, on this path into TV. And we ended up, well she was going to America to pitch some work to Netflix. And she pitched my idea, amongst some others. And Netflix like we like that one. Can you tell us a bit more? And so Imogen came back and said to me, 'don't get too excited. But Netflix would like to read the pilot. So let's kind of look at it again. Let's like America-proof it. Let's get some people to read it, you know, external people and Americans'. And so we did that and we sent them over the pilot and they liked it and they wanted to develop it. So that's been a very long journey and we're still on. Getting closer. But yeah, that was really it. And through the existence of that pilot, which kind of wouldn't have come about, if not for that initiative, that was then a writing sample, which I was able to give to the producers of Eden, when I was approached by them to create a show. And so that pilot got me the job on Eden. And so I guess it just kind of snowballs. 

[00:06:13] Caris Bizzaca Yeah. One thing leads to another type thing. Yeah. So just to clarify, Id is in development at Netflix at the moment. 

[00:06:22] Vanessa Gazy Yes. In the States. So there's been that sort of big American TV process, which has been really interesting in contrast to the Australian- 

[00:06:32] Caris Bizzaca Oh OK. Is it quite different? 

[00:06:34] Vanessa Gazy It's extremely different. So different. 

[00:06:37] Caris Bizzaca What's like what's one way that it's really different? 

[00:06:41] Vanessa Gazy Well the writers' room system and that whole thing and the show runner system. It's just a big, big machine that's so well oiled. And it's existed in that form for so long and it's really hierarchical and everyone knows their kind of place within it. And there's a kind of ranking system where you kind of start from a writing assistant-

[00:07:03] Caris Bizzaca And then you climb a ladder. 

[00:07:03] Vanessa Gazy You climb. Yeah. And then the other thing is that the rooms are so long. So the writers' room that, you know, I think we've had about 18 weeks or something so far on Id, which is just so different from the amount of time we had on Eden. And I think that's just the way they do things. That's how they develop TV over there, I guess that's the system. And so I was doing all of that over Zoom last year and it was really eye opening and kind of wonderful, but also exhausting because it's full on. It's non-stop. 

[00:07:36] Caris Bizzaca Yeah, 18 weeks of writers' rooms over Zoom sounds exhausting. And so Eden, which is on Stan - when this podcast comes out, it will be on Stan to watch all eight eps now. But you were saying how the producers approached you, so from what I understand, there was an idea for this series and they went out and approached writers for samples and things like that. Is that how it kind of came to you? 

[00:08:06] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. So the the way that it came to me was through Mike Jones, who was a teacher of mine at film school, but now he works at Every Cloud. And he had written me an email basically saying, would you be interested in submitting some work for a new series we're looking for a lead writer. And I was like, yes, wow, cool, of course. And so I started submitting work and, you know, sent them my shorts and bit by bit they were like, yes, keep sending us stuff and come and meet this person, come and meet that person. And eventually, I took a meeting with Brian Elsley in the UK, so it's co-produced by Every Cloud in Australia, and Brian in the UK, Brian Elsley (from) Balloon Entertainment. So he's the man behind Skins. And what they kind of said to me was we made this show for the ABC called Deadlock, which you might remember is a short form show, and they'd made that in Byron Bay. And it was about a car crash that sort of affected a town in different ways. And they sort of said to me, look, we want to make a long show. We love Byron Bay. We feel like it's going to be something that's going to sell internationally. Just this location is unique. Brian had really, like, come here and and felt that there was something special in Byron Bay that could make for a really good long form show. And that was kind of all he said to me. He said (a) multigenerational (show) and set in Byron Bay and initially he said 'and you know, three deaths maybe'. And that was it. That was a brief. And then he and I started working together in a really great organic way, actually. He sort of said: 'All right, well start from scratch, like, you know, I love your voice, I want your voice to to be heard in this show. You know, I like your ideas, your characters. Let's just start to sort of organically build like a town'. And what he said to me, which I think was an exciting brief, was like, just pitch me characters and let's put them together in interesting ways and paradoxical ways. And so it was this wonderful thing where I just sort of sat down and started making up people. And then, yeah, the town kind of grew. And then the interconnections started to just organically find these people in different ways. And it was really a process of "character up" story and the story revealed itself through that character work. And I'd just have meetings with Brian and talk to him about it. And he'd sort of be like, yeah, I love that. Or, you know what if we could combine those two into one character? And he just sort of helped me to mould this town and then kind of started from there, which I think is a really interesting way to work. And it was different from the process with Id, which was very much more like a high-concept kind of premise. And then it's like "plot down", I guess. And then this one was kind of "character up". 

[00:11:18] Caris Bizzaca Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so the eight episodes, people who haven't seen it yet, each episode does focus on a different character. And we'll talk about that in a in a moment. But could you first of all, just explain in a nutshell what Aiden is about? 

[00:11:36] Vanessa Gazy So Eden is the story of a town that looks very much like paradise until a young woman goes missing one night and it's each episode is told from the perspective of a different character. And we kind of delve into their worlds and their characters that have sort of crossed paths in some way with the missing woman, either in the present or in the past. And as we begin to sort of delve into those lives, we begin to reveal the mysteries and the secrets of those different characters and ultimately piece together the mystery of what happened that night. So, yeah, I mean, in a lot of ways that's a familiar format, but I hope that it's a really bold new way of approaching it. 

[00:12:21] Caris Bizzaca And with the way that you were talking about the idea developing, then at what point was it kind of turned into a, you know, a writers' room or had you developed a lot of the story when you got to that point? Like, could you talk through that a little bit? 

[00:12:36] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. So, I mean, I think something I'm learning well, it's not my experience with the other show, but on this show especially, things happen incredibly quickly. So it was just me and Brian for a long time, kind of just me submitting work and then me writing a pilot. And, you know, it felt like this really intimate thing between he and I where I was just sort of talking to him and he was giving feedback. And then at some point he's like, you know, I think we're ready to start sort of showing this around. So he went off and started, you know, talking to different networks. And I was at some point he said, yeah Stan's interested. So we went in and we did like a pitch meeting with Stan, which is really good up in their nice office in Barangaroo overlooking the harbour. I was very nervous. 

[00:13:25] Caris Bizzaca No pressure. 

[00:13:25] Vanessa Gazy No pressure. And Brian being beamed down on this big screen from the UK. And, you know, everyone looking at me. Yeah, I hate pitching, but you got to do it. But they really liked it and they were kind of like, yep, let's start to develop it together. And then I can't really remember how much time passed, but I went off to... So I was in L.A. and I got this call from Brian and he was like, again, 'don't get too excited, well get excited. But you got a lot of work to do before you can get really excited'. He's like Stan, they probably want it, but they want to see what happens. They want they want the bible, basically. They want to see an outline. And he's like, you've got four days. 

[00:14:12] Caris Bizzaca Four days?! 

[00:14:13] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. 

[00:14:14] Caris Bizzaca So what did you have at that point? You has had a pilot. 

[00:14:17] Vanessa Gazy So I had a pilot and I had nutted it out in broad strokes ways. It wasn't just like I didn't know what was going on at all. But four days is daunting, you know, and there were a lot of threads that still felt like they hadn't been connected. And so I was like, oh, my God. So I just sat down and I don't know sometimes when there's crazy pressure, just something weird happens. And I just kind of started working. I was in quite an inspiring house at that time. It was a weird house in Laurel Canyon, it was kind of magical, there were goats in the backyard and there were like all these beautiful objects all around and I just felt something was just sort of coming together for me. Probably pressure was coming together for me. But, yeah, I just sort of banged that out and sent it off and felt sort of like conservatively excited about it. I was like, 'oh, I think actually that works' and sent it off to Brian and he's like, amazing. And then sent it to Stan. And then it was greenlit. So that was that. And then I that was November. And I think we went into a writers' room in I think it was January.

[00:15:35] Caris Bizzaca Of 2020?

[00:15:36] Vanessa Gazy Of 2020, yeah. So we only had five days which is you know, the big difference between Australia and America. Yeah. But you know a lot, as I said, like a lot had been worked out. And so Brian and Deb Cox and myself, like we were the little core sort of unit that was really working to kind of get this story straight. And then we brought in this wonderful all-female writing team. So that was ** just written and of Cliff Sladden and Penelope Chai. And they were wonderful, talented writers. And we had a week together. And yeah, just went full steam ahead trying to break that story and then by the end, allocate everyone their episodes. So each of those four had an episode and yeah, then we just went full steam ahead and started writing the show. 

[00:16:33] Caris Bizzaca Yeah. Wow. And so because the story, as you were saying before, each episode, is a different character perspective, but also the story isn't told in a linear way and there's a lot of kind of dipping into memories and things - when you're writing that kind of plot outline, I suppose, in a writers' room or something, do you write the linear story and then break it up and decide what to fit with what character? Like, how does that work? 

[00:17:04] Vanessa Gazy Yeah, I think there are different ways to work it out. And I think every writer is different and I don't think I'm particularly methodical. But, you know, I always just have several documents around. And one of them was like, 'this is Hedwig's journey', 'this is Scout's journey' . So, yeah, you definitely have to kind of chronologically understand what really happened that night bit by bit and understand the characters kind of path through that timeline. Yeah. And, you know, even in the writers' room, that's kind of how you work. You put like on the board, you have a big line. And we would just kind of notching the line with events as they happened and then you can kind of scramble it up as you see fit. 

[00:17:55] Caris Bizzaca And how did you find that kind of process of working with a story that is told in this way? 

[00:18:03] Vanessa Gazy I really I loved it. I mean, I feel like I always set myself up with these kind of... like you know, everything that I've kind of been working on lately, feels very challenging in terms of timeline and plot. And I'm like, why don't I just tell a nice, simple story that goes in a straight line? Why do I have to keep complicating it for myself? It just seems to be something I do. But I think it can be really rewarding. I think it's exciting for an audience to do that mental work of piecing things together. And it's so satisfying when a question that was asked here is explained over here, or that the missing thing that, you know, you saw this character do this thing, but over here you see why, because this other character's done this thing and you see kind of all fit together. And I think that can be really exciting to watch and to write as well. But also, it can be completely. There's a word for it, I won't swear (laughs).

[00:18:58] Caris Bizzaca I went and well, you said, you know, you're not super methodical. How would you kind of then describe your writing process when you are sitting down to write ep three that you were working on? 

[00:19:15] Vanessa Gazy I mean, I always am going from... by the time you are at that, especially with TV, by the time you're sitting down to write Episode three, as much as I think it's kind of against my sort of animal brain version of how I would like to write, which is just sit down and write - kind of the way you do when you're a kid. And you're like, I just want to write a story and I don't even know how it's going to end. And I still have an impulse often to do that because that feels like the most exciting place when you're really new surprising things can happen. But unfortunately, I think when you're at a certain level, people need to see so many versions of an outline. 

[00:19:50] Caris Bizzaca There's a there's a very clear structure that you're following.

[00:19:52] Vanessa Gazy And you have to and then it's like trying to be creative within that and trying to still find what's new and surprising within the outline that everyone's approved and everyone's kind of OK'd. And that in itself can be really exciting because it's kind of like in an edit, right? It's like you direct something. The editor does a first cut exactly as scripted. And you watch it and you're like, yeah, like it works. It's there but it's flat and then you start to play. So I think it's it's that process in writing as well where you don't want to just literally get your outline and like bang it in and that's that. You kind of need to find the thing that keeps on exciting you in that scene. 

[00:20:40] Caris Bizzaca Yeah. And you said before that you hate pitching. And so just quickly, doubling back to that moment, do you have any advice for people that are going into a pitch? Like what kind of advice would you give them as someone that does not like pitching?

[00:21:03] Vanessa Gazy That hates to do it? I think the best way to approach a pitch well, you've got to prepare. So that's something I definitely learnt. I once had this terrible thing happen where I'd gone to L.A. and I'd been working so hard on Eden and I'd gone to L.A., I think I was pitching Id, the other show or something. I was having a discussion about it with Netflix and I was meeting with my agent and my manager in Beverly Hills. And I'd sort of been working so hard on Eden and a lot of stuff had been going on in my personal life. And I just sort of rolled off a plane and I was in WME offices in L.A. and my agent, who I hadn't actually met in person yet, was like, OK, so like, you know, give me your pitch. Like, what's the show? She knew, but she was like, OK, we're going to practise. And I just was like, I couldn't remember the character's names. I just I hadn't looked at it for so long and I hadn't, you know, I'd been living in Eden. I couldn't even remember anything about it. And she was like, OK, this is going to take some work. So you just want to avoid that. So I think for me, what I really learnt is prepare, go back over the material, get it in your head, get it in your bones, feel it again, just try to get yourself back into that place where you were when you were writing it, when you were really excited about it and find that again. And but then I think when you're actually in the room, it's about trying to be as relaxed and conversational as you can. It's about just really trying to tell a story as you would tell a story at a dinner party or something, rather than feeling like it's this public speaking thing, because I think that's where you stiffen up. And I'm not saying I've mastered it. You know, when when you're doing a really long pitch the American way, when you're like going into a big room, you know, for example, in front of a bunch of Netflix execs or Stan execs and you need to pitch an entire series. I find that really hard because-

[00:23:05] Caris Bizzaca How long is that? 

[00:23:08] Vanessa Gazy It's so long, you have like half an hour or something to just talk. And, you know, I think because I'm a writer much more than a public speaker, I've always even you know, at school when I had to do speeches, I'd always write down the script and then sort of just rely on that because I knew that I could rely on my words, but I wasn't sure that I could kind of rely on myself. And I think that's a mistake because I think, of course, you know what to say. Of course you know your story. And if you just trust yourself, after you've done all that prep and you've really got back into, you remember the beat. You got to trust yourself to remember and to deliver it well, and I think if you put that paper down and just try to sort of engage eye to eye with the people you're talking to and get excited, then you kind of get swept up in the story anyway and forget that you're even pitching. And from the moment that you first start talking, I think a lot of that stress dissipates. I don't think I actually hate the act of pitching - that can actually be quite enjoyable. I think the idea of pitching makes me nervous and I'm trying to find ways to overcome that. 

[00:24:12] Caris Bizzaca The hours leading up to the pitch. 

[00:24:14] Vanessa Gazy Yes, it feels like this daunting thing that you have to kind of overcome, like this terrible day that's, you know, looming on your calendar. And I mean, I think other people don't feel that way. But that's something that I think I need to work on in my career, because it's just something that, I definitely fear the pitch. And I think it's a bit irrational because, you know, of course, you're going to be OK. And, you know, more often than not, you have this wonderful time, everyone's engaged and you come out in a better position than you were before. 

[00:24:44] Caris Bizzaca Yeah. Yeah. Just having to trust yourself, I suppose is the tricky part. And for Eden, how was. It kind of focusing on, you know, the writing and executive producing, because from what I understand, when you were working in shorts, you also do kind of direct your own material and things like that. How is it being kind of focusing on writing for a while? 

[00:25:07] Vanessa Gazy To be honest, it's been the hardest part of the whole journey for both of the shows. Moving from the mentality or, you know, the person that you become when you're a writer director, the person... of course, you kind of you kind of grow into that self of like I'm a writer director. This is my script and this is how I want to actualise it. And obviously working with a wonderful team of people and producers and we all, you know, we own it together. But at the end of the day, it's your job as the director to make calls on everything from, you know, costume choices to, you know, this prop or this prop and who do we cast and everything. And so it really is, you are the key decision maker. And you do have control, you have creative control over the final product. And so you get used to that, but then you kind of move over into being the creator of a TV show. And it's not that. And yeah, there are a lot of people who have much more control and power than you do in that process, especially as kind of someone who's never done it before. Of course, you don't have ultimate control over every aspect of things when the machine is that big and the stakes are that high. So, yeah, it's really hard to give your I mean, of course, we call work a baby. And I think it actually is a pretty, pretty fair analogy. Like you feel like you've birthed this thing and then you're-

[00:26:42] Caris Bizzaca You have to hand it over.

[00:26:43] Vanessa Gazy You're handing it over and you're like, 'my baby'. But I think in hindsight now, now that I've done the Eden one and it's the same sort of situation on the Netflix show, I think it's about just being kind of humble and going, yeah, I'm learning. I'm the creator of two TV shows. That's amazing. I'm not going to be able to control everything that happens. That's OK. You know, one day, hopefully, I'll get to that position of being a showrunner if I watch and if I learn and if I'm just really super engaged with what those showrunners are doing. 

[00:27:19] Caris Bizzaca And kind of using these experiences as like a learning thing to see how others are doing it.

[00:27:25] Vanessa Gazy Yeah because it's a hard job. Being a showrunner is an incredible job, but it's a super, super hard job because you are like a director, but you're also the producer and you're responsible for the entire heft of that thing is on your shoulders. And, yeah, that's big. And I am actually really grateful at this point that I've been able to kind of watch and learn in the process rather than, you know, if I had sort of just come to it without having done it before or seen it being done before, I think that would have been very, very hard, if not impossible, to just sort of pick up.

[00:28:06] Caris Bizzaca Very daunting. And so then what's it been like to say something like, Eden, come together and say this, you know, finished product and all the work that's gone into it from various, you know, heads of department. And it was shot during 2020 which obviously was impacted by Covid, but got through it and see kind of the end product. What's it like. 

[00:28:31] Vanessa Gazy It's pretty wonderful actually. I can say with all sincerity that when I watch the show I really enjoy it, I just really enjoy it. And I think unlike when I watch things that I've written and directed myself, you know, which it feels impossible half the time. It's like agony to watch something that you're that... where you feel so exposed because it's all you. There's a certain degree of like healthy separation at this point and I can just watch it and go, yeah, this is a really enjoyable experience I'm having. And it's wonderful to see how various people: directors, cast, producers, designers, DoP took that and created something that is both kind of, of me and not of me and some beautiful kind of combination of the two things. It's actually been really... I mean, I'm scared, obviously. I'm really scared. It's scary to release work into the world, but I can genuinely say it has felt really good to watch the show and to see how it's come together. And, you know, I think there are some really moving moments. I think it's very beautiful. And, yeah, I do feel really proud of what everyone has done. 

[00:29:48] Caris Bizzaca And, you know, you're also working on a feature film that's in development. What's it been like to jump back into feature film, having worked on television for a number of years? 

[00:30:02] Vanessa Gazy Oh, it's been really nice. I mean, it's just you. It's just you and your script. And there's a little more time. I mean, not a lot more time, but there's a little more time. I've been working with the great script editor as well, Lynne Vincent McCarthy, and it's been a really beautiful process to kind of go back to, especially because an early draft existed. And then I did all of this TV stuff. And I think in that process became a much better writer. I think pitching becomes a muscle that you start to use. And so you can kind of see all the different possibilities all the time for the story and you can be quite agile and flexible. So I think by the time I came back to the feature, I had a new skill set, which in some ways has been incredibly helpful, but in other ways has been a hindrance because, you are like constantly firing, sparking different kind of new ways that this thing could go. But it's been really nice to just come back to something that still feels very organic and it feels within my control, I suppose, which is a really nice feeling. It's like with TV, sometimes you're kind of halfway through a new idea and someone says, 'we don't have time for that. You know, sorry. It is what it is like. Moving on. We can't indulge this new thought bubble'. And you're like, what? And again, that's something you kind of have to learn. The pace doesn't allow for those kinds of things, you just move forward. But with features it's kind of nice to just be able to explore different creative pathways and sort of just meditate on different ideas and the pace feels much more gentle. 

[00:31:49] Caris Bizzaca Yeah, OK. And it's also in 90 minutes as opposed to eight hours of TV. Yes. It's a slightly different direction. 

[00:31:57] Vanessa Gazy Exactly. 

[00:31:59] Caris Bizzaca And so what kind of advice would you have for any writers or writer directors that could be listening to this podcast? 

[00:32:10] Vanessa Gazy Well, I think. Definitely apply for the things that come up, because I think that was huge for me. 

[00:32:18] Caris Bizzaca The whole like one thing leading to another to another.

[00:32:21] Vanessa Gazy Yeah, it's a series of doors that sort of my career at least it feels like I sort of stumbled in the door initially. But then after that I sort of was like, OK, well, I'm going to AFTRS now and, you know, and I'm going to apply for this Smart for a Girl program. So those things I think are important. From the perspective of like being a creator, I think it's going to be the same kind of experience as when you're writing, directing a smaller, short film. This is like a big machine that is incredibly well oiled. And if you see it as an opportunity to learn and to just embrace the fact that maybe it's not completely in your control and to actually, I think, just try to enjoy that. Yeah, just enjoy it. I think sometimes you get so caught up. And generally I think in this industry, like, you can forget how wonderful it is to be telling stories for a living. And yeah, I think sometimes I need to check myself and be like, hey, have fun. You're telling stories. It's good. And I think also self care, to use a bit of a hackneyed expression. But I think like last year in particular for me, I feel like I was doing too many things. I was in writers' rooms in the morning and then I was delivering scripts in the evenings and it was just non-stop. And you just kind of become a little bit of a husk of a human by the end. And you can forget about your health and your mental health and all of that and exhaust yourself. And I think we all just kind of need to, because we don't work nine to five. I think we can just work non-stop.  

[00:34:15] Caris Bizzaca It's that tricky thing of what you were saying before with the opportunities, but also not burning out from saying yes or going for too many options. 

[00:34:23] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. I mean, I think, now that I'm just at the moment I'm only just working on my feature and it just feels so nice to only have one story on my mind and one thing to concentrate on. And I know sometimes that's just absolutely not possible and definitely wasn't possible last year. And my mom keeps saying, 'you're taking too much on. You shouldn't do this again. I'm like I don't know what I could have done, mum, thank you for your helpful advice'. But, you know, I do think there is something to be said for trying to focus on one thing at a time and devote love and time to that thing and also kind of know when it is that you're productive and when you're not. And don't beat your head against a wall, which sometimes I do. I've only just realised this year that I'm way better in the morning and those are my good hours. And after like two, I'm just a bit of a blob, but I'm struggling through it. And actually, sometimes you could use that afternoon to read a book. I think that's really important. You know, read a book, watch films like that's the other thing. I don't think last year, I barely watched anything or read anything. And that's such an important part of what we do. How can we be sort of full of ideas and how can we understand what's actually kind of in the zeitgeist and everything if we're not engaged with it? So I think that's another bit of advice, which is probably very obvious. But watch lots of films and then read lots of texts of all different kinds. Like I've been kind of reading a lot of scientific texts at the moment because they're helpful for my feature. And it blows your mind. And then you're reading these papers and you get ideas all over the place because science, you know, scientists and writers have always had a really interesting kind of symbiotic relationship, I think, where sometimes one inspires the other. And so I've kind of been really enjoying looking at those possibilities lately. 

[00:36:20] Caris Bizzaca Oh, cool. And, you know, just to then finish on, I know you don't like pitching, as you've mentioned, but can you for what's kind of coming up next to you? Are you able to give us a bit of a picture of what you know Id is about and your feature or if you can't talk about them, totally understand. 

[00:36:44] Vanessa Gazy No, you're asking me to pitch. Yeah so it's about identical twin sisters. Um, I think that's all I really allowed to say about it. 

[00:36:56] Caris Bizzaca OK, OK. 

[00:36:57] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. I don't have the official- 

[00:37:00] Caris Bizzaca The official one-line synopsis. 

[00:37:01] Vanessa Gazy Yeah. And I think, you know, sometimes you can, you can just do a massive spoiler in a one liner and the other one is, it's an adaptation of my short film Highway, but it's kind of an adaptation that's taken an exciting new sort of sci fi direction.

[00:37:24] Caris Bizzaca So people can watch out for those and they, of course, can also catch Eden on Stan. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I really appreciate you coming in. 

[00:37:35] Vanessa Gazy Thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it. 

[00:37:40] Caris Bizzaca That was Vanessa Gazy and remember to check out Eden on Stan now. To keep up to date with new episodes of the Screen Australia podcast, subscribe through iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And you can also subscribe to the fortnightly Screen Australia newsletter for the latest news from the local industry. Thanks for listening.