2 Days to Go... Sophie On: Sarah Lamesch

Hey Guys,

   Tomorrow is the big day. Or rather, the prelude to the big day. By this time tomorrow, my crew and half my principle cast will be here, and well involved in their pre-shoot preparations. I've been relatively calm up until now, in spite of hardly being able to move and in constant pain, yet today I am stressed out. As with any shoot, there are always last minute problems to sort out, no matter how much you get done in advance, and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

   But for now, I'm going to take some time out, and tell you all about Sarah Lamesch, the subject of the last Ashes profile.

   Most directors don't get the luxury of rehearsing with the actors before a shoot. What I got, however, was the chance to film Sarah in character (as 'Sarah' - the name match is a coincidence), seven months before the principle photography of Ashes. Such is the nature of indie filmmaking these days, where pretty much everyone is shooting footage outside of and before principle photography, in order to make Teaser Trailers and get more funding.

   In case you haven't seen it, (or if you want to help us get up to 2000 views before the shoot), the Ashes Teaser Trailer - shot and edited by Taylor | Winter films - is here:

   The Teaser Trailer shoot also gave me a great chance to bond with Sarah, and it gave Rena the opportunity to test out her make-up on her, which means she knew in advance which things will and won't work. But, due to the simplicity of the Teaser Trailer script (I wanted something which was striking but which cost little to make, since we were trying to raise money with it) I didn't exactly get to explore a lot of Sarah's character with her. My directions went little further than, "look peaceful... now you're scared.... you're REALLY scared now... and now you're less scared, more accepting but sad..." and so on, and so forth. Not exactly worthy of a Best Director OSCAR!

   We've also had minimal meetings. I'm based in Derbyshire, Sarah's in London, and we've both had lots of other projects in the time between the Teaser Trailer shoot and now. During the rare Skype meetings we have had, we've discussed the necessary things such as travel, costumes and other technical stuff. So, although I have no doubt in her acting ability whatsoever, I've not really given Sarah chance to prove how well she understands her character.

   This morning I received the following statement from Sarah, and then I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, she's completely in tune with who she needs to be:

    "Sexual abuse in a relationship is such a hidden topic, mainly because it's sometimes hard to tell where it starts, from an outside as well as an inside view. Where does someone  draw the line between sexual desire and abuse?

    "I feel that Mark and Sarah's story is such a complex one, they were very much in love and the love they had for each other was sincere (and real). Sarah isn't just the victim and Mark the evil abusive boyfriend. Over the period of their relationship, both of them changed without realising what happened to them."

Sarah's Audition at Studio 3b, Nottingham

   The first thing that impressed me about Sarah's audition was her appearance. Her hair type was ideal (I know that's changeable with actors but it caught my attention straight away), and she held her languid body with a vulnerable grace. I didn't notice her eyes until the Teaser Trailer; once they were well lit and lined with dark make-up, we were all blown away. Sarah Lamesch's eyes may be the most beguiling I've seen since Liv Tyler's, and are ten times more striking, making them one of the most valuable assets we have in this film.

   She brought a little vulnerability to her performance too. Immediately I imagined her in theatre, perfect in a period role, and I know that some of her experience is from performing on stage. But we both agreed that the character of Sarah needed to be more than vulnerable - she needed to be hurting, but to be strong as well. 

    So I made her do the monologue again (twice, if I remembered correctly), and got her to be progressively angry until she was staring directly into the camera, and nearly shaking. Then I knew that Sarah, the actress, had a fire inside of her as well as a sense of grace. And she got the part.

    Directing some of the scenes in Ashes is going to be one of the hardest things I've had to do, even though it's something I feel that I am ready to face. It's going to be equally as challenging for the actors, but I know that both Sarah and Adam can do it, and Sarah's closing statement shows that she is ready too:

    "Playing the role of Sarah is going to be challenging, one of many reasons why I wanted to be involved in this project. I'm looking forward to going on Mark and Sarah's journey and playing the different stages of their relationship."
Sarah Lamesch on the set of the Teaser Trailer shoot
   So that's it. You've read every one of the special Ashes profile blogs. If I get chance tomorrow, I'll pop online and do a little rundown of all of them, but I have lots of things to get ready which are much higher priority.
   It's time for me to stop writing about this film, and to stop thinking about this film, but to just bloody well go and direct it. Wish me luck, dear followers!

Sophie x


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