About

A chance comment gave writer Kate McDermott a new perspective on a commonplace situation and inspired the short film script This Is Her. “The middle-aged man leaves his similarly aged wife for someone 20 years his junior - it’s such a common story that it has become a cliché,” says Kate. “I became interested in exploring the story behind the cliché – the fact that this man wasn’t always a rat-bag, and that the couple weren’t always unhappy. The fact that the passing of time makes the implausible a reality,”

This is Her is a day-in-the-life story about Evie and Jonathan; a happily married couple who are having their first child. The dialogue is almost entirely a voiceover by Evie’s older self; as the film progresses, Evie reveals what life holds for her younger self, her nearest and dearest, and for ‘the bitch who will one day steal him and ruin my life’, angelic six-year-old Kylie,

Set in two distinct time frames, This Is Her shows us the present while telling us, via Evie’s voiceover, what the future holds. “I wanted to highlight how unbelievable and impossible to imagine the future is by layering words over images of the present,” says Kate. “Images which are in complete contrast to the description of where these people will end up. The stranger who just crossed the road in front of you could one day be the most significant person in your life.”

Kate sent the script to her friend and colleague, director Katie Wolfe. In turn, Katie suggested Rachel Lorimer and Felicity Letcher as producers. “When I first read the script I laughed – a lot,” says Katie. “I was attracted to its dry, wry tone, its clever structure, and the potential to create eclectic, surprising and imaginative visuals. I thought the structure was very sophisticated and the tone, the dark humour of it, really appealed to me. It was a very adult story, the story of a woman my age.”

Katie immediately knew the story would lend itself to being told in the banal genre, a style that brings out the extraordinary in the ordinary, the unease in the commonplace. “To me the banal is a beautiful metaphor for the stories I like to tell, which are the stories that we all have in common,” she says. “They are the stories of everyday existence; in this case, of friendship, motherhood, and betrayal. The banal allows you to sit back and observe the small moments of life; to play with life’s absurdities.

With thirteen characters, including two children and a newborn baby, and nine locations, including a hospital and a school, This Is Her was an ambitious short film project – but a great example of the principle that the right script will attract the right people.

This Is Her is a great New Zealand story with universal appeal,” says co-producer Rachel Lorimer. “But we needed an excellent team to do it justice. When people read the script and talked to Katie about her cinematic ideas, they wanted to work on the project.”

One of those people was Mia Blake, a skilled film actor who has worked with Katie in theatre. Mia was cast as Evie early in the process, and her input into the development of the film was very valuable, especially with reference to the voiceover that provides the film’s narrative drive.

More challenging was the casting of six-year-old Kylie – a process that involved auditioning over 70 children, found through agents, schools and personal contacts.

“Casting the two children was critically important,” says co-producer Felicity Letcher. “Kids are notorious for being able to do it one day and then not being able to do it another, which certainly played out in the call-backs. We went through a rigorous audition process to find the right actors.”

“Christina du Plessis was the only girl I saw who I was sure could play Kylie,” says Katie. “She was just excellent throughout the whole shoot and took direction very well for such a young girl, and when we put the cameras on her, we realised she has an intrinsically magical quality on screen. Once I had Mia and Christina, I built the cast around them.”

“Christina du Plessis was the only girl I saw who I was sure could play Kylie,” says Katie. “She was just excellent throughout the whole shoot and took direction very well for such a young girl, and when we put the cameras on her, we realised she has an intrinsically magical quality on screen. Once I had Mia and Christina, I built the cast around them.”

This Is Her was filmed over five days on location in Auckland - not the gritty or glamorous sides of the city, but the comfortable yet alienating homogony of the suburbs.

“We ended up shooting in Albany, a suburb I saw grow from country lanes to four-lane highways surrounded by mass housing. Everything was brand new; everything had been built in the past ten years. It was an environment that really interested me. I was creating a feeling of being trapped, a metaphor for marriage and the romantic myth.”

In the finished film the intimacy of Evie’s voiceover is juxtaposed with surprising, imaginative visuals; skin and plastic; children and adults; loneliness and community; reality and the fairy tale.

Another essential element of This Is Her is the music, composed for the film by Geoff Maddock from Goldenhorse. Kate McDermott is a writer whose work is informed by music, and Katie decided early on that she needed a hero song for the final sequence. After an extensive search, she found The Last Train from new Goldenhorse album, Reporter, a song inspired by another fairy tale – the story of Snow White.

“Bringing in Goldenhorse and Geoff was an amazing experience,” says Katie. “They agreed to let us use The Last Train, and Geoff, who had written the song, came on board to compose the rest of the music. His work added an important layer of meaning to the film.”

 

Technical Info: 
35mm, 1.1.85, Dolby Digital, Colour
Duration: 
12min
Production Year: 
2008
Production Company: 
Passenger Films
Festival/Awards: 
2008 Qantas Film & Television Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to a Short Film (Ginny Loane, Cinematographer), New Zealand; 2008 St Tropez Antipodes Film Festival, France- Baudin-Woodside Valley Foundation for Best Short Film, France ;2008 Best Audience Film Award - Prague International Short Film Festival, Czech Republic; 2009 Best Comedy Short -Aspen Shortsfest, USA; 2009 Future Filmmaker Award – Palm Springs Shortfest, USA; 2009 Audience Award for Best Short Film- Hamptons International Film Festival, USA; 2009 Venus de Badalona- Filmets de Badalona, Spain; also screened at 2008 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival, Scotland; New Zealand International Film Festival; Melbourne International Film Festival; 35th Telluride Film Festival; 46th New York Film Festival; St Tropez Antipodes Film Festival; Prague International Short Film Festival; 2009 Flickerfest; 25th Sundance Film Festival; Santa Barbara Film Festival; Aspen Shortsfest; International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul; Magma Short Film Festival, New Zealand; Arizona International Film Festival; Seattle International Film Festival; CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival; Palm Springs Shortfest; Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival, Canada; L.A. Shortsfest; Hofer Filmtage, Germany; Ourense Film Festival, Spain; Curtocircuito, Spain; 1-Reel Film Festival, USA; Hamptons International Film Festival; Filmets de Badalona, Spain; Aarhus Film Festival, Denmark; Asbury Shorts New York; 2010 Portland International Film Festival; Minimalen Short Film Festival, Norway; Feile na Bealtaine, Ireland; Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival, Turkey; Maremetraggio Film Festival, Italy; Show Me Shorts Film Festival, NZ; imagineNATIVE, Canada; 2011 Wairoa Maori Film Festival, New Zealand
Sales Agent: 
NZ Film

Key Cast

Key Crew

Director of Photography
Ginny Loane