Q&A with Vermilion director Dorthe Scheffmann

Posted Wednesday 07 Nov 2018

Correction: Lovely Dorthe Scheffmann thanks WIFT for the newly minted PhD we credited her with in the earlier issue of enews. She does have a wonderful Masters of Philosophy though - would that we had one of those! WIFT apologises for the error.

is written and directed by Dorthe Scheffmann, whose award-winning short film The Beach was selected in Competition Palme d'Or at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival and numerous international film festivals. She also produced Vermilion, with Nik Beachman (Mahana) and Michele Fantl (50 Ways of Saying Fabulous) and associate producer Paul Scantlebury (founder of the website Flicks.co.nz), for an alliance of their production companies - MF Films, Thick As Thieves and This Is It - with funding from NZ Film Commission, NZ On Air and private investors. It is distributed in New Zealand cinemas by Rialto Distribution.

Scheffmann says her inspiration for the story came from "a group of women that I've lived alongside for a long time. And a desire to make films for an audience of women."
She has identified that her cohort of women are avid movie-goers and yet there is a shortage of stories made specifically for them. "Why wouldn't you make films for an incredibly buoyant economic group who are desperate for material about their lives?
Women's films, she says, "send you right to a glass of wine with your best women companions afterwards and create a conversation. The domestic situation on screen is one that so many women in my age group will say 'oh I've seen that' and 'I recognise that', 'I've been there', or ' there's always one of those in my fridge too'. It's familiar."
She says the Vermilion story is not autobiographical, "but it is personal in as much as anything that you write and that you care deeply about is bound to be personal. It is about the issues that I find interesting, and it is the world as I see it.
"It is rare in New Zealand drama films to see an older woman in the central role who is intellectually, creatively, economically and sexually independent, and it is a personal goal of mine to reflect this world that I know so well."