Apparition

Unexplained occurrences take place at an eerie farmhouse, as two grieving sisters with a complicated relationship find themselves entangled between the past and the present, while trying to make sense of guilt, grief and loss.

  • Alicia Pavlis
    Director
  • Alicia Pavlis
    Writer
  • Alicia Pavlis
    Producer
  • Alicia Pavlis
    Key Cast
    Predestination, Glitch
  • Phoebe Wilson-Lee
    Key Cast
  • Vivienne Perry
    Key Cast
    Blood Vessel
  • Leo Evershed
    Director of Photography
  • Caroline Grunewald
    First Assistant Director
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Drama, Thriller
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 14, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,600 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
    Australia
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Alicia Pavlis

Some people have an energy that extends beyond their physical body when they tell a story. They excitedly throw their arms in the air as if they’re conducting an orchestra of fantasia paintbrushes on canvas. Narrating with emphatically emphasised vocal expressions, and a whimsical yet focused gaze into the distance that makes you feel as though the wild expedition they experienced while getting their morning coffee, might actually be something from a movie scene, rather than their ordinary daily routine. Alicia Pavlis is one of those people.

Like a manifest laser beam, Alicia is the kind of person who seeks out the magic in otherwise unexceptional experiences. Finding big stories in tiny moments, and viewing the world as the stage on which to express them.

With a background in acting and writing, Alicia has begun her journey into directing with her first short film, Apparition. Apparition is an exploration of mental health, a topic that Alicia is deeply inspired by when it comes to her work.

Influenced by science fiction, fantasy, paranormal phenomena and the human experience, Alicia’s ever-growing passion to tell stories can only be measured by the rate at which the universe itself is expanding.

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Director Statement

Apparition is short drama/thriller inspired by the complex emotions that can take place while dealing with grief. The story follows the distressing entanglement between two grieving sisters, living in a farmhouse that their late parents left to them in country Victoria, Australia.

The two women have very different ways of dealing with their grief. One of them is immersed in her emotions and openly expresses what she feels, while the other is completely shut down and defensive, so they struggle to see eye to eye. But not all is as it seems, and something paranormal seems to be going on around them.

The script for Apparition came about while I was in the throes of trying to finally unravel my own tangled grief after losing loved ones.

Late one evening I was having trouble sleeping and a large painting in my living room suddenly fell down. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I sat up for the rest of the night, writing this script around the concept of being haunted by grief.

In my experience, I’ve found that letting go of guilt has been a major part of moving though grief. We can feel guilty for the smallest things when we’ve lost someone. Beating ourselves up because we should have said this, or shouldn’t have done that, or could have tried harder, or should have listened more. The film explores that guilt, and for me it’s visceral. Guilt can feel so physical and real, so I feel like it’s really easy to latch on to when we lose someone. But in order to heal, it’s so important to appreciate what it’s showing us, and work through it to let it go.

The film explores mental health and themes of guilt, grief, loss, isolation, depression, self-medication through drug use, and the need for mental health support. It also touches on the subject of living rurally in Australia while facing the ever-present threat of seasonal bushfires.
Rather than shining a harsh light on these sensitive themes, I wanted to use artistic techniques to help convey the messages of the film through the use of colour and light, with the contrast between smooth shots, soft warm colours and glowing lens flares in early scenes, and the movement of handheld shots, and cold stark tones later in the film. 

An important focus of the film is a painting I created titled “Apparition”. The painting also utilises this opposing colour palette, and depicts a ghostly figure emerging from flames with a night sky of stars between clouds of smoke above, symbolising hope beyond the chaos.

The day after we finished shooting the film, another painting on the other side of my living room fell down. It felt like this beautiful book-end symbolism with these two paintings on opposite walls falling down at the start and finish of the shoot.
Maybe I need to invest in better wall hooks, or maybe it was a poetic message from beyond, urging me to share this film. Either way, Apparition is definitely a passion project. It came from an inspired place of wanting to share experiences around grief, guilt and loss, and to also draw awareness to, and help normalise talking about mental health. It’s my hope that this message is received by the film’s audiences.