I joined a film club. The first rule of this film club is we don’t talk about film club. Sod that, I’m going to anyway!
Actually, I was ‘specially selected’ to be invited to join the film club. That made me feel quite special, actually.
For two reasons. One, that they were thinking of me when considering who to invite to the inagural gathering; and two, that I was thought of because ‘they needed some younger females’.
They needed some YOUNGER females and thought of ME! I don’t really consider myself *old* for someone who’s going to be 40 next year; but in an industry where most casting briefs are for 18-25 year olds; and people are posting in online actor forums “I’m 28, is it too late to go to drama school? Am I too late to become an actor”; that someone, anyone, remotely linked to this industry considers me a ‘younger female’, is a bonus!
However, just a quick glance through casting directories like “StarNow“, or others of its ilk, where anyone can sign up and ‘put themselves out there’ (There are some that require at least some proof of experience or professional training in order to sign up to); any number of young, good-looking, aspiring-model types list themselves; and jobs such as ‘reality’ shows (You didn’t think Big Brother and Love Island just found these people randomly on the street, did you?) and ‘promo people’, or even ‘normal’ jobs get listed to entice ‘resting’ actors to apply for… there aren’t that many ‘older’ actresses ‘starting out’; nor are there the job listings that are looking for them. I’ve seen a few more, recently, when you actually look, usually when looking for “Social worker 1” or “Mother of the lead character”. (Strangely, despite being a full-on mum to 3 little boys, I don’t get cast too often as a ‘mum’ – funnily enough, in TV land, even ‘mumsy types in their 30s’ still all look like a size 8-10 catalogue model who’s main experience of childcare is taking her niece to the zoo…)
And, more inspiringly, ‘older’ actresses are getting more press… Shirley Maclaine and Maggie Smith being the coolest characters in Downton Abbey? Diana Rigg ruling Game of Thrones? Everyone adoring Helen Mirren in pretty much anything she does? And my favourite person of the moment, who also happens to play my ‘sister’ in ‘medieval times’, wrote this blog piece about how she came to do Acting & Writing, instead of just day-dreaming about it.
The other day, I showed her something I am involved in writing. And she loved it. Despite the fact that the leads were not necessarily 18-25 year olds. And it reminded me of something my writing partner had been told, sometime last year, about not waiting for the parts to come up, but writing your own stuff was the way to go (of course…that depends on how well you write…but hey, there are ways around that!) and then…at this year’s BAFTA film awards, it was mentioned how successful ‘older’ women are successful, mainly, when they go out and write their own material themselves…because sitting around waiting for someone else to write you a character, well, may be a very long wait…
And so, back to Film Club… It’s, very basically, a group of people who just want to make stuff. Some of us get paid to do it, some of us want to learn, some of us can see a huge potential for this group to be a good lerning/teaching base, a forum for furthering causes (for example, mental health is a big focus at the moment, particularly mental health in the arts, and a current project deals with this) or just for producing entertainment; with no requirement for dealing with budgets or sponsors or ‘money-men’ – we have directors, writers, producers, actors, cameramen, sound ops, editors… and anyone at any time can opt to beome a student of any of these roles and learn from each other, depending on the project we’re creating. Just for the sake of creating. And being able to show something that we created. Just because we created it.