Home' Scoop : Scoop 54 Summer 2010 Contents ictoria Midwinter Pitt possesses a rare quality. Denton has it. Oprah does, too. You say
hello. You shake her hand. Then you park yourself on her shiny black couch and blurt out your
life story. She’s tanned and toned with smiling cer ulean eyes that soak up every sentence, even
the ones that have no business polluting the air.
“Victoria has a superb ability to engage with the people she interviews, and a particularly
wonderful way of drawing out the best from them,” says producer and business partner Penny
Chapman, who has collaborated with her on four films through their Indian Pacific Picture Company.
Being entrusted with someone’s sacred story is a privilege Victoria guards like a lioness. “When a
person opens up to me, I feel a great deal of responsibility to be careful with what I’ve been told. I
don’t want to screw them over. If I had that intention, I think they’d smell it,” she says.
The 42-year-old filmmaker pauses uncomfortably when asked why she is drawn to stories of
human struggle and social injustice. Her 2007 documentary Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague
showed how Sydney’s sex workers, drug addicts and gay community helped halt the spread of
HIV/AIDS that ran wild in other cities around the world. Last year’s dual Emmy-nominated Sur viving
Mumbai (released in America as Mumbai Massacre) focused on the stories of the ordinary people who
were trapped inside India’s plush hotels when terrorist gunmen attacked in 2008. The upcoming Leaky
Boat will document the infamous Tampa affair nearly 10 years later.
“I feel pompous even saying this,” Victoria admits, somewhat apologetically, “but I feel I’m alive
to these issues. I’m interested in people who don’t have it easy. I feel for them. I have no interest in
stories about people who are glamorous or successful.”
Victoria learned the importance of empathy through her own dark days. As a g ay teenager living in
the southern suburb of Bateman, she had a hellish year at 15. Bullied at school, and terrified she would
lose everyone she loved if she revealed her sexuality, Victoria carried the weight of the world on her
young shoulders. She had no way of knowing it, but the experience proved to be the making of her;
she emerged with heightened compassion, iron strength and no sour aftertaste.
“If you can sur vive something like that without it twisting you up, you don’t regret it for a second,”
she explains. “That year formed my character. It’s partly why I’m so interested in people who have
struggles, who fall from grace, who end up at the wrong end of the mob and who form the mob.”
Up until then, Victoria had enjoyed a relatively idyllic childhood. Her Fremantle apartment block
overlooks the very stretch of water where she stepped off the boat from England with her parents
and two older sisters in 1970. The family, who left the ‘mother country’ seeking adventure and new
opportunities, first settled in the Perth Hills, where Victoria soaked up episodes of Daniel Boone and
turned into “a little savage” who ran around in gumboots exploring the bush. As a child she flirted
with the idea of becoming an acrobat and a dentist before discovering a love of writing in her teens.
A degree in arts and law followed, but upon her graduation, Victoria made what she now deems
one of the bravest and most fateful decisions of her life. She opted not to practise law. “I knew
if I started law, I would never get away from it. They pay you too much money. I was only 23, but
thankfully I had the sense to realise that.”
She started the hunt for an ‘interesting’ job and got her wish when the ABC offered her a
position as a researcher in their documentary department. Her first assignment was on The Liberals.
“I was lucky enough to work with brilliant people who g ave me unbelievable training. They taught
me the principled way of doing things,” she says. “If I’d worked under lesser people, I think I could
have picked up some pretty dirty habits.”
Victoria stayed with the ABC for six years, writing, producing and directing documentaries, and
producing for Four Cor ners. At 31, she was accepted into drama school in London. When Victoria left
Perth she thought she’d never return, but 18 months ago, after nearly two decades of living and working
interstate and overseas, she packed her bags and headed home. “I’m going to sound like a complete
EXHIBITING FINE ART,
83 Bussell Highway
Telephone: (08) 9758 7200
Email: gar email@example.com
Longboard Coffee Table by Jahroc
6’11” Fish Hall Table
Geoffrey Wake “Headland” 130x120cm
Jah_Roc_IS027 .indd 1
3/11/10 4:49:24 PM
Links Archive Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Scoop 55 Autumn 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page