Shelly Lauman
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Shelly Lauman

Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Actor/Film Maker
 
Origin: Sydney, Australia
Currently based: Los Angeles, United States

 
 

 

Shelly has worked as a professional actor and theatre maker in Sydney and Melbourne, and is one of the founding members for the critically acclaimed company The Hayloft Project.

In 2010, Shelly was commissioned by the Bell Shakespeare Company to adapt and rewrite Hamlet into a one-woman show. She made the short film TWO DUCKS, in 2009, winning the Audience Choice Award at the World of Women Film Festival in Sydney. Shelly has been accepted into the 2013 American Film Institute Conservatory to complete her Master of Fine Arts in Film Directing.

 
 

 
Who are you as an artist?
My artistic training began as an actress at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. I developed a theatre practice working in both mainstage and independent productions in both Melbourne and Sydney. While my work for the last decade has been primarily as an actress, I have also developed work as a writer, dramaturg and theatremaker. Now I have begun the next chapter of career, in the States as a director and filmmaker. I am motivated by a need to create authentic, engaging, raw stories and characters that inspire and challenge. I am (eternally) interested in the complexities and contradictions of the human condition.
 
What prompted you to come to the US?
In 2009 I produced, directed and acted in my first film TWO DUCKS and a love of directing was born and stuck. I wanted to begin this next chapter with structured and immersive practical craft training. The AFI Conservatory is considered one of the best film schools in the world. I also wanted to develop a network in the States for future employment opportunities.
 
What did your course/project involve?
It is an intense, rigorous, practical training - we learn by doing. AFI simulates the industry experience of developing and producing a film so the graduates may enter the industry with a robust and practical understand of what it is to be a working filmmaker. I have made 3 films in 8 months. It has been an all consuming, wonderful process. 
 
What were the highlights of your experience?
The chance to experiment with ideas and stories in a school environment, that I wouldn't necessarily be able to pursue in the 'real world'. The opportunity to work closely with and receive feedback from working industry filmmakers. Most importantly it has been the close close creative relationships established with fellow graduates. I have met people I will work with for the rest of my life.
 
Where did you find inspiration?
In human behaviour, people watching, poetry, short stories, paintings, photography, philosophy, other films.
 
What will you take away from this experience?
A maturity and self awareness of my personal approach to filmmaking and a practical understanding of the filmmaking process and industry expectations. A new self confidence. A tight group of excellent collaborators with whom I will make work with for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
My second of the 3 films I made. Tulips. Based on a Sylvia Plath poem (also called Tulips). It was brave, organic and truly collaborative.

 
What are you currently working on?
My thesis project about a homeless street musician who is looking for his lost guitar.

What is your vision for the future?
I want to write and direct feature films that inspire, challenge and celebrate the human condition. Eventually I would also like to work in television but I think that will come later. I want to contribute strong female characters that explore the experience of being a woman in new, complex and 3 dimensional honesty.

 
What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
Trust your gut. Always. Embrace your Australian-ness. We are really great. I didn't realise how much I valued being an Australian til I came here.
 
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