Gizela inspires next generation with her creative journey

The transition to adulthood for many young people can be an anxious and overwhelming time.

Gizela Maartens was homeschooled during high school and has since flourished at SAE in her Bachelor of Film degree, going on to become President of the Student Council at the Perth campus.

Gizela explains how she was able to transition so seamlessly from homeschooling to the classroom, her passion for film and photography, and why she’s excited to enter the cultural and creative industries in Australia; an industry worth $91 billion and employing more than 200,000 people – which is more than mining, agriculture, forestry, and fishing combined.

Hi Gizela, what made you want to study film?

My Dad has always been a good photographer and he gave me his old Canon 650D camera to play with when I was around ten. I started watching stop motion videos on YouTube of other girls filming their dolls. All of a sudden that’s all I was doing through my own YouTube channel – it was fun.

So you’ve always loved film then?

I’ve always really enjoyed stories. I read heaps, watch TV shows, and I like the complexity of characters. I decided that I wanted to go into film when I was 13. By the time I was 16, I was doing freelance and wedding photography.

What’s your top tip for a killer photo?

When I’m taking photos, I like to make people laugh. Right after they stop laughing, that’s the moment when you get the perfect shot.

Great tip! I understand you were homeschooled growing up?

Being homeschooled was great during my childhood, but what I was really looking forward to was going to university and getting the opportunity to leave the house a little bit. I kind of knew I didn’t want to study at a traditional university, as I wanted to learn how to make films and be hands-on. I had a friend who had studied at SAE, so I checked out the website and that’s when I came across Create for a Day.

What did you like about Create for a Day?

I fell in love with the idea of SAE from the moment I went to Create for a Day. Having been homeschooled, the idea of a living and breathing teacher scared me, because my teachers growing up were my books! On the day I got to meet some of the lecturers, who would later teach me. Getting the chance to meet them and actually talk to them was really reassuring. Having studied at SAE for a while now, you’re made to feel welcome and part of a community. I think that’s partly down to the size of the classes, which I’ve always found super appealing. They’re so small, which makes it easier to get to know people and make friends a lot quicker.

What did you learn from the day that you continue to use in your filmmaking now?

There was one exercise that we had in regards to directing, where they brought in two professional actors, and we learnt how to give direction. For example, we would be asked to say ‘be disgruntled’, not ‘be sad’. And ‘pretend this has just happened to you, and the actor would then be expected to read the lines in that way. I wasn’t taught that skill until trimester three, so I was able to get a little head start, which I certainly think helped me.

You’ve been President of the Student Council and continue to be involved, what do you enjoy about it?

I try to be that approachable person for younger students, just to see who I can help. The volunteering aspect to the council is very selfless and is all about serving your fellow students; so that can be very enjoyable. From a networking perspective, it’s been super beneficial. My major project involves a student from almost every discipline at SAE – I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have the connections through the Student Council.

That sounds awesome. What’s it about?

The film is called Gamma, and it’s a family comedy, which is heavily influenced by pop culture. It’s a story about a grandmother, who wants to reconnect with her granddaughter, and she decides to rekindle this relationship by taking up a hobby they can do together, which is competitive online video gaming! Due to copyright, I thought it would be best if we created a game from scratch by games, animation and design students, which we could incorporate into the film. I’m really looking forward to sharing it, once it’s complete.

What are your plans once you graduate?

I’m really keen to become a producer eventually. I was really lucky to get an opportunity at a production company a couple of trimesters ago, and they’ve fortunately called me back for some work. Some friends and I created a production company called Red Scale Media. We’re going to start producing some short films together, hopefully with fantasy narratives, as we’re all into that!

Film students looking at a camera on a green set.

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