I’m going to be a film star! Well, not quite, in fact I may well end up on the cutting room floor but I have now acted in a film. How did that happen? Well, quite remarkably, on my doorstep. I am a member of Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group and a man called Guy Browning (former Guardian columnist, humorist and Radio 4 contributor) lives in the village and decided to make a film. He had written the script for a romantic comedy (The Husband Obedience Trials) and decided the only way for him to direct it was to finance it on a budget, using the Kingston villagers as his main resource. Professional actors were hired for the main roles but interested villagers and members of village groups were encouraged to audition for ‘bit’ parts – and I was given the role of ‘Po-faced Feminist’ – yes, I know I’m hardly going to be the next Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s a start (and probably, end!) to my film career.
The village really got behind the film – the WI provided the catering for the cast and professional camera crew, villagers offered accommodation in their homes for those who needed it, the owner of Kingston House kindly agreed that it could be used as the main location for the film. Villagers acted as ‘runners’ for the film crew, worked on continuity, provided transport, acted as extras, took charge of hair, make-up and costumes – in fact it was a magnificent effort and enabled the film to be made for a fraction of the normal budget for a movie.
And how did my filming go? Well, it was a very odd feeling. I am used to being on a stage, knowing my character thoroughly, feeling familiar with the script, being comfortable. And now here I was standing in the middle of a field, surrounded by a crowd of extras, with my two lines (yes, TWO whole lines) of dialogue and a camera staring me in the face. One of the camera crew was running round and round the field pretending to be twelve people in fancy dress undertaking one of the ‘Husband Obedience Trials’ at the village fete. Do I project my lines, do I try to act natural, do I look at the camera ….? It took lots of encouragement from the director and four takes for my two lines. I think I was probably terrible. I certainly felt terrified.
So if The Husband Obedience Trials finds a commercial distributor and actually makes it into the cinema next year, look out for my name in lights (well, more likely in very small type at the end of the credits). It was a good experience but somehow I don’t think Hollywood beckons.
*Update 23rd September 2009 – the film title is now Tortoise in Love.