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June 2013

Here I am sitting at my desk in hot sunny Boise and can’t think where to start. It’s been very busy as usual, I thought I would have a quiet time here in Idaho, but having given myself the task of making a film anthology, there is always something to do...apart from the family and young nearly two year old Luke of course. He requires undivided and devoted attention when I am with him, I really am more of his playmate that his Grandma, or Mimi, as I am known to the grandchildren. The two things he adores is sitting in the front seat of my car pretending to be Jackie Stewart or similar or getting down to the playground to climb some kind of peculiar climbing wall up to the slide. His pleasures in life are simple at the moment!

We are getting ready to launch a Kickstarter(crowd funding) campaign to raise the money for the next in the series of films New Chilling Tales and have shot a short trailer or teaser, as it is known here in the States, maybe we call it that in England ....I don't know. Having picked up with David Hemmings’ third wife Prue, I asked one of their sons George to be in the film, so he kindly appeared in the teaser for us. George and Will look very like Dad, haven’t met third son Edward, so don’t know if he does too. Anyway seeing young George on set, gave me quite a moment, so like his Dad is he! We had an excellent shoot, our Director Jesse, who directed THE YELLOW WALLPAPER with me in it, decided to night shoot! Haven’t done that for a while, so off I went to a great location, all woods and large ponds, suitably attired in layers as one does for night shooting, putting on and taking off as necessary, this time it was putting on, as the night got cold after the heat of the day and taking lots of cookies, cakes, water, crisps etc. Usually the way to a crew’s heart is through their stomachs, as I learned from Katharine Hepburn, who would come to the set on her non shooting days on THE LION IN WINTER, loaded down with cakes, drinks, chocolate, cheese etc...all lovely food as we were in France through much of the filming. Needless to say Kate added to her already high ‘street cred’ by so much more, in the eyes of the crew, by being such a caring trouper.

We shot the trailer for the story THE DAMNED THING, a brilliant tale by a great American writer called Ambrose Bierce, who lived and fought during the American Civil War and who wrote wonderful stories. This one is so imaginative and ahead of its time. I wont tell you more at this point because I hope you all will see it. George will play a young journalist giving evidence at the inquest of his friend’s death. I started to say we shot the trailer on a RED camera, which was fantastic. This is the Rolls Royce of Digital cameras and they are already making films in Hollywood on it. THE HOBBIT, THOR and THE GREAT GATSBY were shot on it, to name but a few. I doubt that it will completely be the death of actual film, but it is so much cheaper to use, as there is no processing, which is a huge cost in a budget and it is more flexible and easier to light. It’s hard to say what will happen next in the field of film technology. I do know that the editing process takes much longer on digital, but maybe because so many special effects are now used. You don’t have to go to actual locations anymore, they can be “Green screened” in now. We actors really are becoming low man on the totem pole and I can tell you that green screen acting is incredibly boring. The danger is and I think this is happening already, that the studios and producers rely so heavily now on special effects and ‘the look’, that they don't worry too much if an actor has any ability, or if a script really works.....big mistake in my view, as the audience will not be fooled, or most educated audiences. Of course if your only reason to see a film, is to stuff yourself with popcorn and soda and snog in the back row, it probably doesn’t matter too much.

Oh yes the business is changing radically and I think it’s getting harder for actors to have a real journeyman career, using their talent and skills, unless you’re an A lister as the stars are now called. And of course the talent shows are there to persuade the young, untried and untrained to “have a go”. This is a sad train of events. We all know that those with the exceptional talent will rise to the top and stay there, but for many others it really is a flash in the pan, an overwhelming desire to be ‘famous’ and heartbreak at the end of it.

Beware the talent shows, the “acting schools”, the “fashion schools”, most of them are simply money making scams waiting to lure in the unsuspecting public, children with ambitious parents and those, we generally call the wannabes.

Well I think my writer’s block, unplugged itself and I’ve rambled on a bit.

See you all next time and thanks for reading.


All content copyright Jane Merrow