I recently got the chance to talk to Catherine Balavage about her acting and directing roles in new film, ‘Prose And Cons’. Here, Catherine talks about how the idea came about in the first place and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Catherine. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Prose And Cons’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The film is about a poet called Sarah who gets writers block. She then steals someone elses tweets and passes them of as her own. Obviously this has far-reaching consequences. It is a black comedy with a really great cast. I play Sarah and Bo Wilson plays Paula, the writer I steal the tweets from. Lynn Howes plays my best friend, Spud. So it has a strong female cast.
We should mention that you both co-wrote the film and directed it – how did the idea come about in the first place?
The idea came about as I was looking to do a film with great roles for women. I tweeted that I was going to make a film with women in the lead roles and Richard Wright, a writer/director I had previously worked with said that he had a half-finished script. I got to work writing the rest and re-writing. So basically the original idea was Richards and I just ran with it.
How hard was it to put the film into production?
Hmm, that is a good question. Originally Richard was going to direct and I was going to co-write and star in it. Then Richard and I realised that we had different ideas of which way the film should go. So Richard left the project. It was all very amicable and Richard even did a cameo later on in a barbecue scene. Richard is great. I met him when I auditioned to be in his short film. He cast me so obviously has great taste!
After Richard left I was going to try to make it myself but I was finding it overwhelming. Then I met Steve McAleavy on the set of ‘Le Fear II: Le Sequel’, a film I acted in. I had decided just to make it and Steve saw my tweet about it and was interested. He became the producer, editor and co-director.
It got easier after that as I knew I had someone to film and to bounce ideas off. It was still hard though. I re-wrote the script a number of times as Steve wanted it to be perfect. I did the casting, the producing, the scheduling, the directing and I was also the lead. A lot of the actors had scheduling conflicts and the film was really stressful. In the end it was all worth it though. There are a lot of actors in the film, and we filmed in many different locations. Even though the advice you get when you make a low-budget film is not to have too many actors or locations. It was a real learning curve.
How has the reception been to the film so far?
It has been good. Really good. We have a lot of interest and we had some amazing actors in it. We filmed at the Phoenix Club in Charring Cross too. We have a lot of Twitter followers and people liking us on Facebook so we already have an audience.
The film stars Keith Ackerman, Richard Armah, Vanessa Bailey, your good self, Tom Bonington, Jack Bowman, Monty Burgess, Mary Burt, Jonathan Butler, Tim Cordell and Jason Croot – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
Wow. A lot. Jason Croot came to film in Walton-on-Thames and had no airs or graces, he even helped us move around furniture. We were filming in Lynn Howes house. Lynn plays Spud in the film. Then when we finished filming we all had wine and interviewed each other with the camera.
Bo Wilson is an editor at the Evening Standard as well as an amazing actor, we filmed around her work schedule and she was a real trooper.
Jack Bowman was endlessly funny. As was Lynn. We were filming a scene where Lynn and Jack had to snuggle up together and we filmed it in Lynn’s house. Just as they were getting intimate Lynn’s boyfriend came home. She was just like, “Hi, honey!”. He was really good about it though.
The same thing happened when I was filming a scene in bed with my ex in the film. My real-life boyfriend was in the bed upstairs doing some work and Steve went upstairs to ask him if he could vacate the area as his girlfriend needed to get into bed with another man. My boyfriend said: “Yeah, okay.” It was pretty funny.
Steve and I also had endless fun. We are both Scottish and have a similar sense of humour.
‘Game Of Thrones’ actor Forbes KB also came down to film with us when we were at The Phoenix doing the poetry reading scene. It was a really great, funny day.
Richard Armah was cast after I seen him in The Shakespeare Conspiracy at the Chelsea Theatre, which Jack Bowman directed. He was amazing.
Let’s talk a bit about you Catherine – I‘ve already interviewed you about your acting background, but what made you want to get into the director’s chair?
I just wanted to get better roles. When you are an actor so many things are out of your control, and making your own projects evens the playing ground. You get to become the artist you want to be. I think the age of the actor is dead now. You need to be able to write and produce too.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the film-making process?
Just get as much experience as possible. More importantly: do it. If you really want to make film then just make one. You do not need tons of money, you just need to work hard. Enter competitions, network and get noticed.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Rihanna, Sam Sparro, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Paloma Faith, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Les Miserables soundtrack and Now 83.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- David Attenborough – because he is just amazing. He has brought the beauty of the natural world to millions.
- President Obama – because I think he is the best President ever and just very cool.
- and Albert Einstein – I would just want to listen to him and become smarter.
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
Good question. Peter Rabbit. I loved Beatrix Potter as a child and I love animals.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
I will be acting in ‘The Secret of Botticelli’ and ‘The Botticelli Murders’. We will be filming in Italy soon. I have started a production company with Steve McAleavy called Foreshore Films and we will be making a film called ‘The Descending Of Fate’ from a script I wrote. I also have an acting book on how to be a successful actor coming out soon as well as a couple of other films and documentaries. I am also auditioning all the time. So fingers crossed for even bigger and better parts!
Thanks for the interview!