I've taken support freely given from friends who want to see me succeed. It's extraordinarily humbling and at the same time some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life.
You're working on your latest feature, a ghost story, Widow's Walk, which begins shooting in November 2016. What inspired the story?
Creative England here in the UK offer grants for regional based films. I grew up in East Anglia. Good place to start. I googled “Beach house, Suffolk, film location” and found our hero's house on a location website and started writing a supernatural thriller/ghost story set there. When I realised the spirit of the woman in the house could have fallen in love with an American pilot in World War II, I saw that I could tell some of the history of my own life and of the USAF [United States Air Force] in Suffolk too. And then we were off!
Before we get to the Widow's Walk teaser, can you introduce us to a few members of the Widow’s team?
First and foremost, Matt Flanders (Producer), who is a long-time friend. He helped me get my audition for Titanic. He worked with Dede Gardner on projects such as World War Z and Twelve Years a Slave. He's been producing independently for a few years now and has a keen eye for the right notes and for bringing me back from being too sentimental or over explaining things.
Mike Myshko (Editor, DIT and Post Production Supervisor) is a digital genius of epic proportions. He is DIT, editor, VFX, colour grader, poster designer and post-production supervisor. We have worked on several short films together and he was the one that convinced me we could make WW for the much smaller budget we are going for.
Dan Milne (Producer)
[We] went to drama school together a million years ago. He's a theatre director and performance maker with his production company WONDERBAR. He produced the upcoming You Were Never Here directed by Camille Thoman with Sam Shepard and Mireille Enos.
Bronwyn Cornelius (Executive Producer)
Bronwyn produced You Were Never Here with Dan and came on board as executive producer after she read and loved the script.
James Seymour Brett (Composer)
James wrote the music for my short films Boxer on the Wilderness and A Kick in the Grass. He's based at Abbey Road studios and has promised me I can conduct the orchestra (for about 16 bars only!) when we record the sound track.
Mustafa Bal (sound designer)
He created the sound for Boxer on the Wilderness, which is one of my favourite elements of the film. So, much can be told with the right soundscape. He will record sounds on set and be the sound designer, again creating a one-stop-shop for that department.
I formed the company when I was fifty years old – because fifty is the new thirty, right? I needed a production company to make my projects, so at the moment we have in development, or are producing, the scripts that I've written. There's the boxing film (The Wilderness); the supernatural thriller (Widow's Walk); a TV series about the underbelly of London in post WW2 Soho, a sort of British Sopranos meets Martina Cole's The Take with a female Tony Soprano. And a romantic comedy (or tragedy!) about a woman who lives on a houseboat – my love letter to London and the river Thames.
Have there been any particular challenges you have faced between finishing your last film, Boxer on the Wilderness, and starting Widow's Walk?
Money. Money. Money. In focusing all my attention on getting Widow's Walk written, funded and produced, I've put less and less focus on my acting and other work. I've gone through my savings and pared down my life to the bare minimum. I've taken support freely given from friends who want to see me succeed. It's extraordinarily humbling and at the same time some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I'm on some self-centered and crazy wild goose chase that only I care about I'm crazy if I think it's never going to happen. But that is changing.
We like to hear what the chatter is around a filmmaker's environment -- as you are in the UK, is there a strong support for inspiring more women to get involved in the industry in your area?
Yes there is but I can't say it's in the UK alone. The views from Hollywood and the independent film world still filter through very strongly. It's already clear that having a female director is helping with this film. In preparation for the trailer, we made our new website for Widow's Walk and shared the new URL on Twitter (@Widows_Walk) and Facebook (fb.com/WidowsWalkMovie). After only a few days TWO female film festivals asked if they could screen the film this year. We haven't shot one frame yet.
After a stunning report by Directors UK that over the last ten years less than 14% of British films had been directed by women, the BFI [British Film Institute] have just pledged to make their financial support for women 50/50 by 2020.
I get the feeling that being a woman and saying I'm making a film has a resonating hashtag element to it but let's be clear, I'm not being 'held back' from making a film because I'm in a perceived minority or because the percentage of women directors is too low. I'd hate that anyway. I'm not making films because I'm not a man. The same rules apply. It's very tough whoever you are and being a self-starter is key. I'm making films because I love it and every filmmaker – man or woman – should be doing the same.
The teaser for Widow’s Walk; where did you film it and who’s the actress who braved those cold waves to give such a provocative glimpse of what to expect from the feature?
The teaser was shot in Suffolk in our hero's house location back in November 2015. That brave actress who got into the North Sea for us is Emma Connell.
First teaser released for upcoming Widow's Walk is here! Watch below.
For more info:
New Thirty Pictures: www.newthirtypictures.com
Widow’s Walk on Twitter: @widows_walk
Alexandra Boyd on Twitter: @AlexActWrDir
Widow’s Walk website: www.widowswalkfilm.com
Boxer on the Wilderness: @BoxerWilderness