We were delighted to have the experienced Heather Walker join the cast of our latest short film Coming Out For Christmas. Here she tells us about her time on set of the festive film along with some of her inspirations in the film world and why more women over 50 need to be represented in the media.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE ON SET OF COMING OUT FOR CHRISTMAS?
HEATHER: From arriving at the location first thing in the morning to leaving in the evening everyone involved in Coming Out For Christmas was friendly, helpful but above all extremely professional. Caris gathered all cast and crew together where we introduced ourselves and got to know a bit about each other. She then went on to explain in depth how the day would run and her vision of the shooting schedule. We had a full read through of the script and then into makeup and costume. With all cast and crew briefed, each scene ran smoothly and so the day ran like clockwork. I really enjoyed my experience on this shoot.
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE COMING OUT FOR CHRISTMAS IN THREE WORDS, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
HEATHER: Funny, truthful, uplifting.
WHAT WAS IT THAT DREW YOU TO YOUR CHARACTER IN COMING OUT FOR CHRISTMAS?
HEATHER: Julie’s matriarchal role in the family as a strong, independent, single mother determined to keep her children and their families together whatever conflicting energies that may occur in the process.
DO YOU THINK THERE ARE A GOOD AMOUNT OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR WORKING IN FILM/THEATRE/TV IN THE NORTH EAST?
HEATHER: I think it’s certainly happening in the North East. I have been involved with an independent company based in Gateshead who have made regional commercials for a large home improvements company and also a small family run garden centre business. They also went on to film an educational training video for a national fraud prevention government scheme and produce a short film for them too.
I have also worked with producers who have made feature films in their own homes who have secured well-known actors and celebrities for roles and been proud to have them film in their house. The theatre based work I have been involved in has been with native North East writers who have performed from rooms above pubs and local community centres.
On the whole there is a lot of talent in the North East who are pushing the boundaries and succeeding. With plenty of lovely outdoor locations on both the coast and inland for shoots the North East is your oyster.
WHAT OBSTACLES ARE THERE WORKING IN FILM/THEATRE/TV IN THE NORTH EAST?
HEATHER: Firstly I think obstacles are those we put up in our own minds. If we really want to do something we will find a way, as many independent filmmakers have proven.
However from an actors point of view there is an obvious lack of professionally run acting schools and workshops to provide ongoing training. These are the places who identify and nurture local talent and their relationship between local theatres and filmmakers.
A couple of Leeds/Manchester based schools have tried to set up in Newcastle but unfortunately haven't had the support so at present the only choice is to travel to them instead. It's evident the good working relationships these schools have with production companies, agents and casting directors in both these cities. I wish we could get that going up here.
On a positive note however, Vera has given work to a lot of North East actors over the years and George Gently did the same for the region. Hopefully more production companies will see the benefits of filming in the North East in the near future and feel they can use the services of our talented homegrown filmmakers.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LGBTQ+ FILM AND WHY?
HEATHER: The one that immediately springs to mind is Accused (TV 2012) with Sean Bean in the main role. His inner turmoil was heartbreaking to watch. Beautiful, sensitive and, let’s face it, what’s not to like when Sean Bean is in it?
WHAT IDENTITIES DO YOU WANT TO SEE REPRESENTED IN A MORE POSITIVE WAY ON SCREEN?
HEATHER: Women over 50 who are not just grandmothers or the next door neighbour. Women over 50 have stories to tell. They are still working well into their 60s and beyond. They have achieved the highest positions in business, law, police/forces, medicine. They are writers, inventors, mentors etc. They are strong and invincible and not just grey haired, weak older members of the community as a lot of filmmakers like to portray.
IS THERE A FILM/FILMMAKER/ACTOR THAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO ACTING?
HEATHER: I just knew as a child going to my local cinema that was what I wanted to do. One of my first memories was the musical Camelot with one of my favourite actors of that generation, Richard Harris. His performance as King Arthur and the wonderful musical score just transported me to this mythical world and I wanted to be a part of it.
IF YOU COULD WORK WITH ANY FILMMAKER OR ACTOR (LIVING OR DEAD) WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
HEATHER: Filmmaker: Quentin Tarantino because he pushes the boundaries and makes us feel uncomfortable. Actor: Tom Hardy – is there any character he can’t portray? I feel reacting to him would push my skills to the limit.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST ANTICIPATED FILM THIS YEAR?
HEATHER: I can’t say I have anticipated any this year. I am more of a TV drama fan where I identify with lesser known actors, writers and directors who are sometimes more worthy of watching than box office stars.
WHAT’S THE BEST FILM OR TV SHOW YOU HAVE SEEN RECENTLY AND WHY?
HEATHER: So many to pick from here but on extreme ends of the scale: Game of Thrones for pure fantasy and staying power and Line of Duty for brilliant dialogue and intense closeups.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
HEATHER: At the moment I am studying with an Accent Coach to improve my American, RP, Scottish and Irish accents.
You can follow Heather on twitter @HeatherWalkeruk and watch out for the trailer of Coming out for Christmas soon!