Member profile: DOP Vanessa Vandy

Posted Monday 12 Dec 2022

Member profile: DOP Vanessa Vandy

Vanessa Vandy is a cinematographer and director who grew up in New Zealand and Finland. A former athlete who represented Finland in the 2008 Olympics as a pole vaulter, she fell in love with film while pursuing her other passion, composing music, which led her to compose several scores for short films.

Her directorial debut, the short film Farewell (2017), received official selections in LA Shorts International Film Festival, the 1.4 Awards, as well as a finalist spot in One Screen Short Film Festivals New Female Director category. She has done a lot of commercials and short films, and has also been
involved in several international narrative projects including a stint as Location Director for a segment of Chris Hemsworth’s Limitless (2022) and additional cinematography for the Nordic action feature film Attack on Finland.

Right now she lives in Auckland and is focusing on being a DOP. Her latest work is for a short film for Atlas Lens Co showcasing their new Mercury lens, and she's also recently completed a three-week DOP internship shadowing Mike Berlucchi on the set of Our Flag Means Death season 2.

WIFT NZ: How and why did you get into the screen industry?

VV: I originally got into the screen industry though helping out some friends with the post production of their indie films. Learning how to edit was a very useful introduction to the industry because it helped me understand how films were built up.

WIFT NZ: What kind of things could you be doing day-to-day in your job?

VV: I wouldn’t say there is a normal day-to-day scenario for me and that’s probably one or the reasons I love about working in this industry. If I’m in-between shoots, then my day may involve quite a bit of planning work or post-production work. During the days right before a film shoot I’d be doing quite a few calls and driving places to fetch or organise things.

WIFT NZ: What strengths do you need to do your role?

VV: Aside from becoming skilled at one’s craft, I think a crucial element is to learn how to be a great collaborator so that it is easy and enjoyable for people to work with you. At the end of the day people want to work with those who they enjoy hanging out with and who can handle difficult situations. This may at times involve taking a hard look at oneself to realize that you are in fact the one who needs to go through a bit of personal growth. I am regularly going through stages where I try to re-frame the way I see things or go about things to become a better filmmaker and collaborator.

WIFT NZ: What are the things you love about it?

VV:I love so many things about filmmaking. The teamwork and collaboration, the excitement and magic of it, the tech, the challenge. The fact that you will never run out of new things to learn keeps things interesting.

WIFT NZ: What advice would you give to other women who want to direct/write for the screen?

VV: One piece of advice would be to dare to invest in yourself or your own project even though there is a chance that it may fail in the short term. If the opportunities are not given to you, the next best thing is to create opportunities for yourself so that you get that learning experience. Be the person who opens doors for yourself or others instead of waiting for others to do it.