Interview: Filmmaker Genevieve Clay-Smith on Optus’ Connect5 competition

Thanks to Optus, aspiring filmmakers have the opportunity to showcase their talents on a massive stage and stand to win upward of USD $30,000 with the Connect5 competition. With the submissions deadline of October 1st edging ever closer, the Connect5 competition has already seen many short films pour in that are definitely worthy of being celebrated and acknowledged in such a way.

Established to celebrate emerging creators of film and animation, Optus offers the winner of the Australian Connect5 competition $10,000 and an expenses paid trip to Singapore to have their short film entered in the regional finals, where the ultimate grand cash prize of USD $30,000 lay in waiting.

As the entries have continued to pour in, we connect with one of the industry experts who have made up the judging panel for the Australian competition, filmmaker and writer, Genevieve Clay-Smith.

“I think it’s great that Optus are supporting filmmakers,” she says of Connect5. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for grassroots, emerging and established filmmakers alike, to find an excuse to get some friends together and make something. I also think the theme is really meaningful; ‘connecting lives’ can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it conjures humanitarian themes, so it’s wonderful for filmmakers to be encouraged to make work about connection and humanity.”

As a winner of the renowned Australian Tropfest competition, Clay-Smith notes the benefits winning such a film competition can provide a filmmaker progressing in their career.

“The best thing about winning a film competition is the confidence and validation you get. This is such a competitive industry; any kudos is an amazing gift and will give you the energy and determination to keep going even when times are tough. Also, no competition hands you your career on a silver platter, you have to make the most of it yourself.”

“I used my Tropfest win to gain my first clients and I was afforded many opportunities to build my not-for-profit Bus Stop Films and Creative Agency, Taste Creative. I’m certainly proud of where I am today and I don’t think my life would look quite the same if I hadn’t won.”

When it comes to submitting your films to the Connect5 Australian competition, Clay-Smith offers some handy tidbits of advice for filmmakers looking to become competition entrants.

“Story is king.” she explains. “Make sure you tell a story that is feasible on the equipment you have. If you only have your smartphone, think of the ‘found footage’ genre, mockumentary or doco genres. You won’t be able to re-make Star Wars on a camcorder! But you can use the restrictions you have to make interesting work. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you shoot on, as long as it engages the audience and tells a great story!”

“The prize is amazing,” Clay-Smith says of the cash prize and international trip that awaits the winner of the Optus Connect5 competition. “I don’t know of many film competitions that offer up such an amazing prize of 10k and a trip overseas without the pressure of being at a professional level. Everyone is on a level playing field; it will all come down to the story.”

Currently in the midst of her own creative projects, Clay-Smith updates us on what she is working on while taking a spot on the Connect5 competition board.

“I have a few projects in post-production and a few that have just landed on the film festival circuit. I’m looking forward to a project I’m filming in Japan in January and also I’m in development on my first feature, which is also very exciting!”

For the eventual winners of the Connect5 competition, Clay-Smith keeps it simple. Use this invaluable opportunity as the perfect Launchpad it is moving forward.

“Make connections, take as many meetings as possible and don’t be afraid to self promote!”

Get your entries in for the Connect5 Competition before submissions close on October 1st! For more information, visit


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