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Directed by: Steve Anthopoulos
Cast: Aleks Mikic, Becky Lucas, Sam Neill
Synopsis: A florist with a stutter is forced to cooperate with a voice-activated car on the way to an important delivery.
Voice Activated is lightly based on events that have happened to you in your life. How do you rate lead actor Aleks Mikic's stuttering perfomance?
Yep! The short film was inspired by my failed attempts at communicating with Apple's voice-activated assistant Siri. It felt a like a comedy routine at times because I stutter. I'd get stuck on a word and Siri would misinterpret or interrupt me. And although I knew Siri's not sentient, there was this growing sense that she was running out of patience - which I found pretty funny. The film grew out of that odd-couple pairing.
Aleks did a brilliant job - both with the stutter, and bringing so much humanity to the character. When I screen the film for people who stutter they can't stop talking about how authentic his performance feels. Audiences connect with him on a human level and that's so important to making the story work in such a short time frame.
What was the casting process like? How did you come to settle with Aleks?
The casting process was so key and we spent a lot of time on it. Aleks sent through a self-tape that actually made me tear up which is a pretty good sign! Thanks to the producers and casting agent we managed to nab a supporting cast of experienced and talented actors who were all seriously a joy to work with. We felt so lucky.
How did you get Sam Niel attached to the film?
Yingna, one of the producers, had worked with Sam before and I knew he stuttered when he was young. So we decided to get in contact and I sent a letter through his agent. He turned up in a sound recording booth a month later and was a real pleasure to work with. It was very gracious of him to be a part of it. His voice role is legitimately the funniest and biggest audience moment of the entire short. I love it.
Is there a message you would like people to take away from the film?
For me, the film is about my journey from avoidance to acceptance of my stutter. We all have things in our lives that challenge us. And my stutter has been a challenge. But the most important thing I've learnt is to stop caring so much. It might sound minor but it was a real revelation to me, and it's changed the way I go about my daily life. Making the short film actually forced me to confront this even more. I feel like I've learnt a lot from this character even if it was based on my experiences.