I have always been fascinated by how people cope with difficult transitions in life — sometimes shutting out those they love most. My mother had a very complex relationship with her mother growing up in Greece. They didn’t speak for 25 years, but beneath the pain there was always love. I wanted to make a film that explored the complexities of a broken family relationship.
I knew I wanted to collaborate with my close friend and writer, Emily Carlton. ALL OF ME is very loosely based on a mutual friend of ours who is a brilliant creative living in London, but has disconnected from his family up North. As I got to know him, I became curious as to what led to this division and what would happen if he was forced to confront them.
From this initial curiosity, the character of Viv was born. Emily and I wanted to write a strong female lead with a specific, underrepresented identity — a mixed race, genderqueer, artist — but we were clear that we wanted these factors to inform the character, rather than dictate the plot. Ultimately, this is a film about grief, denial, and reconciliation. Viv’s cancer is a physical manifestation of the emotional block which runs much deeper. She realizes that she cannot take proper care of herself, or deal with her disease, without confronting her past.
The character of Viv was a very tough one to cast, as the actor had to embody her gender ambiguity but also appear physically ill, without these striking features overwhelming the performance. When Chereen Buckley walked into the room, I knew she was our Viv before she even sat down. She is a phenomenal and fierce talent. She took on Viv with such brave dedication, all whilst being 11 weeks pregnant!
It was an honour to work on this film alongside such a fearless cast and all-female crew. While we all enjoy working with men, gender inequality does exist in the film industry. By pushing ourselves to look hard for female crew members, and expose their talent in every role on set, we hope to contribute towards a shift in this imbalance.
– Daphne Schmon