Brooke Goldfinch is one of 21 emerging filmmakers shortlisted for the Lexus Short Film Fellowship, set to be announced at next month's Sydney Film Festival.
The four winners will receive $50,000 each to make a short, which will then premiere at the 2017 festival.
Goldfinch studied filmmaking at NYU, and her short, Red Rover, won her the award for best direction in an Australian short at Flickerfest earlier this year.
In what is shaping up as a banner twelve months, she also beat out a record number of applicants to become one of two director's attachments on the set of Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott's sequel currently shooting in Sydney.
"Last week we were doing night shoots and it was so cold", Goldfinch told IF.
"My wardrobe is becoming better at dealing with the cold weather. I don't know why four and a half years in New York didn't teach me how to dress for the cold. It's all about long johns. And beanies."
The young director said the production has "given me a lot of freedom".
"Literally I was standing in Ridley's shadow last night, shadowing (laughs). I'm standing right next to him most of the time when he's on set, but I mostly try to not be in the way that much. But he answers my questions, it's amazing."
The scale of the production is awe-inspiring, said Goldfinch.
"I've never really been on a big movie set, but it's interesting to see what problems are the same. It's just like being on a small set. It's still all about communicating your ideas to your team, or cheating a shot. The conversations are ones you would have with your DP on a tiny shoot. It is encouraging."
As might be expected from a former ad-man, Scott sketches out the look of a film comprehensively.
"He's somebody that draws everything that ends up on the screen", said Goldfinch.
"I've been told that The Martian storyboards are almost identical to the shots that ended up in the film."
Scott's approach reminded Goldfinch that "it's never too early to start mapping storyboards" – in this case for her first feature Splitters, "a sci-fi thriller set in Woollongong with a female protagonist", tentatively slated to shoot next year.
Should she get the Short Film Fellowship nod, Goldfinch's short will be a capsule version of that film, and she's particularly excited that Judy Davis will be judging the applications.
"I'm completely obsessed with her", the filmmaker told IF.
"I just went and saw My Brilliant Career. It was interesting: When I was younger, I kept thinking, why can't you marry Sam Neill? Because he's the best and he's very handsome (laughs). And when I watched it recently [and she turned him down], I was like, yeah! Almost out of my seat."
Davis' charisma is the yardstick by which Goldfinch is marking her own search for a young leading lady.
"Where are the Judy Davises now? She's just got so much chutzpah."
The four successful Fellowship candidates will be announced June 14 at the Sydney Film Festival.