|Teaser Banner for Bed of Nails by Pete Riley, starring me!|
Amongst all this, I was very much into acting, perhaps because I was such an extrovert child. I was part of my school's version of a Glee club (before it was cool!) and performed in all the shows it put on outside of regular drama classes. I have a variety of embarassing photos to prove it, and my memories from that time are what inspired me to make The Opening Night (see the trailer below).
I never really pursued the acting after a certain age. This was partly down to the fact that I wasn't exactly 'lead actress' material, physically, but I didn't have the shameless abandon needed for character acting or movement theatre. Although I think the main problem was that I loved dialogue, but it didn't love me; I've always had trouble with my speech - I've even had speech therapy, a fact which I've never really broadcast - and one of the smaller highlights of my job(s) now is that I get to subtitle myself.
They say that those who can, teach. Well, those that can't, direct. Which is why I first gave it a go, but discovered a love for it and a natural instinct for it, so I never looked back. I've certainly never watched A-Listers like Angelina Jolie and regretted not aiming for what they have.
But, in spite of all this, you may have recently seen me star in a certain video that's online:
Shot and directed by "Spooky" Pete Riley, to the beautiful music of Joel Wildgoose, Bed of Nails is a wonderful post-watershed mix of prostitution, (suggested) nudity, drugs and general griminess (although it does have some happy/cheesy counter scenes thrown in, which I actually found harder to do). So, after years of not attempting any form of acting, why did I choose to appear in a video of this nature? There are five reasons.
1) I knew that Pete was a talented filmmaker and Joel and equally great musician, so I wanted to help them out. You have to support your local creatives when they need you!
2) For the first time in my life, I'm comfortable and excited about my own sensuality, after years of being slightly afraid of it.
3) Ditto, I'm finally at a place where I'm happy with my body and my figure (it's just my face I still have issues with now!).
4) I thought that playing a prostitute would be a 'laugh' (it was).
5) The most important part of all. Next month I will be shooting a film with nudity and sex scenes for basically the first time, and I believe that no director should make an actor do something they wouldn't do themselves. I wasn't nude in any of the scenes - it was all implied - and the actors in Ashes will be in the same situation, but I needed to know how it feels as an actor before I turn around and ask someone to do it for me.
I think I definitely learnt a couple of things which will help me to direct those impending scenes. The main part being that, particularly when there's two of you involved (as there was in this shoot, although it's hard to tell if the scene I'm thinking of was cut in Bed of Nails, as it's wonderfully dark in places), it can feel a bit awkward. There's a forced intimacy element which can feel a little alien if it's not something that you're used to. But, if you're the more relaxed out of the two of you - as I was - it's also your job to calm your partner and bring them to your level of comfort. I found that making a joke about the bizarre nature did the trick, but always judge the mood of the crew around you before bursting into laughter!
|On Location in Burton for a cold night's filming. Photo: James Reader|
So, what did I think of the finished Bed of Nails video? I'd actually sworn not to watch it, a la Johnny Depp, but the curiosity got the better of me. Joel's song still sounds as beautiful as the first time I heard it, and Pete has created a striking little video for saying he had such a short piece of music to cut it to. Plus, due to the colour grading, my face was mostly in darkness for a lot of the film, so I find it somewhat easier to watch!
That's it then - the last hurdle I felt I had to go through before I felt ready to direct Ashes. All that's left now is to bring everything together in time for the re-scheduled shoot dates at the start of August. We have a guaranteed location now, funding or no funding (although I think fire might still stop us), so it's definitely going to happen, and we're all getting a bit excited now.
For now, I'm sticking to my various day jobs!