The email came on a day I was having a classic actor stress fest about not having had any jobs (with the exception of voicework) in what seemed an age. 'Fancy doing a film with us for 50 Kisses? Pretty please?'.
Before I'd even read the script, I knew I'd probably say yes-I'd worked with the director (James Card) in his other career as an actor and was eager to see what his directing was like.
But the story made me giggle too - I don't want to give too much away, but it revolves round a man at a bar taking his friend's advice on how to chat up a girl he's got his eye on.
Added to that was the fact that James asked me to recommend two actors who were friends in real life to play the men in the film, so I was able to end up working with two of my favourite actors to work with from All Dressed Up With You ltd. (mainly because they have fabulous senses of humour and are ridiculously easy to work with).
We had one meeting at the pub we were filming in (in which we chatted about the film, accents, costume and lots of showbiz gossip on top of some truly awful jokes) before the shoot-we were lucky enough to be able to secure a lovely place in Stratford with wooden panelling and amazing food (always essential to keep the cast and crew fed!). Originally we had one day of filming planned, but because we had so many costume/ hair and make up changes (somewhere in the region of 6 in total-yes, my face was a spotty mess by the end of it and my hair was so damaged I looked a bit like a Barbie who had been sucked up by the hoover) we ended up having to extend the shoot for another morning (fine by me-another lovely free lunch and an excuse not to go into my day job! Hurrah!).
The awesome production team at Thorny Devil kept everyone buzzing throughout both shooting days, and even though the other actors and I were newbies to the team we never felt left out of the banter. The fact that we knew that somewhere there were more teams making films out of the same script was a bit weird to be honest (We speculated on what they'd do and nearly managed to convince our lovely make-up artist to sneak onto their set and somehow sabotage it with her ninja make-up skills before the lapsed catholic guilt set in and we just decided to try and win through hard work) but we mostly tried not to think about the competition factor of the film, which helped us just really enjoy the experience.
The costumes in particular were huge amounts of fun (80's hair and jumpers anyone?) although Bond girl dresses when you're feeling a little lardy are less joyous (but as I discovered, a marvy way to kick-start that diet you've been meaning to get on), and my 30's style look reminded me to dust off my hats and seamed stockings for the winter.
Some difficulty came when the 50 Kisses upload system crashed mere hours before the deadline to get the films in (cue panic from all corners, particularly James and Daniel Moses who had been furiously editing for two days prior, plus lots of swearing, hard booze and frowny faces) but luckily the chaos was noted and we were allowed to submit a little late.
And now comes the bit where we wait. It may be a while-they've got an awful lot to watch after all, but even if we don't make it to the final selection, I've had a bloomin' brilliant time creating the film, and it was a joy to work with an up and coming team as professional and with it as Thorny Devil (who are already onto their next project, so keep your eyes open!).
And I think I'll probably watch the feature film at the end of it all too-you don't do a competition like this without getting a little sucked into the other scripts being worked on, and I've been hearing some highly interesting rumours about some of the finished products!
If I were to have any advice for actors who might want to take part next year, it would be this-even though most of the shoots don't pay in monetary value, there are some seriously great teams working on the competition and the chance to be seen by lots of industry professionals so it's certainly worth it.
Don't mess it up by treating the shoot like it's not a professional job (massive mistake) because people who don't commit and waste time will rarely get recast and are fast to get reputations. Get to know the whole crew, they're the people who work hard to make you and you're surroundings look great and they work their bums off from before you get there till after you leave.
Finally, don't stress about the competition element. Yes, there is a competitive side to the project, but at the end of the day, you're creating a film that will be able to stand alone even if it doesn't make it into the final feature and the process should still be fun and a learning experience.
Fingers crossed for me Readers!