Your upcoming movie Three Days - in a few words, what is it
about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
Three Days is a short film which explores
universally experienced emotional journeys. These journeys are set in the
context of the passionate but problematic relationship between Sophie and
a much younger man, James. It observes the impact the reality of their
relationship has on Sophie and James and also Sophie’s sister Kate.
There’s more to the film than meets the eye, but I can’t tell you
Sophie is a sensible, intelligent, middle-aged
professional woman who is caught up in a love affair with a man
significantly younger than herself. The affair is complex and challenging
and has far-reaching consequences for everyone touched by it.
did the project come into being to begin with?
an actress I’m always fascinated by human stories. I’m also interested
in telling the truthful stories of women my age. I
hadn’t been offered any work which explored that kind of story, so I
decided to try to write it myself. I was particularly keen to look at how
a woman of my age might behave if she is head-over-heels in love with
someone that those closest to her disapprove of. What tensions that might
throw up - how might I express the fact that the heart and mind can be
just as unreliable and unhelpful at 46 as it is at 26? And then I wanted
to deepen that, too. I was chewing ideas over with Chris Jones at The
London Screenwriters’ Festival and he enabled me to have a bit of an
epiphany about one aspect of the story and it came from there.
your inspirations when writing Three Days, and is any of this based
on personal experience - and turning the question right on its head, how
much of Vanessa Bailey can we find in Sophie?
personal experience of being in a relationship with a younger man, no.
I’ve been happily married for the last 26 years! Though obviously I can
see the very real attractions there are. On many levels, not simply the
physical. But there is always something about the character you write or
act that you connect with that is a common denominator. Either you can
find a point of empathy with them, or a part of you is like them and you
build around that, or you just feel able to take their journey truthfully.
So yes, there’s a shedload of my heart and soul in Sophie, but we
don’t “look” like the same person or behave in the same way.
I feel her very keenly.
about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
I am still
pinching myself to be working with the other actors. George Taylor plays
James. I stumbled across George by complete accident while I was watching
some footage on my friend Seb Solberg’s website. George was giving an
interview for behind the scenes video for a feature film he was in and his
presence just knocked my socks off. So I googled his showreel and it was
really, really fabulous with impressive credits. I approached him direct
and after a phonecall, a coffee together and a look at the script I was
very lucky that he said he’d come on board. He’s a very exciting,
intelligent and emotionally open actor and I absolutely love working with
him. We have very similar approaches to
acting and character and developing scenes and even though the scenes are
raw in places I feel extremely comfortable working with George.
The same could really be said for Catherine Rowney,
who plays Kate. Cat is a very experienced actress who also happens to be
my friend. So the golden rule of “never cast your friends” was ignored
for good reason! We have a natural affinity on screen and hopefully
we’ll be bringing a lot of that to bear playing sisters. We’ve got a
good creative shorthand and there wasn’t any “settling in” to be
done so it’s been fantastic to work with Cat. I’m learning a lot
working with both Cat and George, it’s an absolute privilege.
far as I know, Three Days is your first movie as a writer - so why
exactly this screenplay, and what made you try your hand at writing to
love writing, but screenwriting was a whole new kettle of fish for me and
definitely a massive learning curve! I don’t have any formal
screenwriting training, but learned as I went and there are loads of
resources freely available which you can extract information from. Twitter
is great for that. This screenplay has been many, many, many drafts in the
making. Finding its true identity, an authentic voice, the right genre. It
all took a while to come together. I’ve had huge amounts of very
generous help from amazing professionals along the way such as Chris Jones
and Judy Goldberg at The London Screenwriters’ Festival, who have guided
and cajoled and inspired endlessly. Also script consultant Karol
Griffiths, for her encouragement and wonderfully generous input. And Lucy
V Hay is a constant source of amazing tips and wisdom and inspiration.
This story comes from the heart. It is real to me. That’s basically why
it’s has been written. I didn’t have a
What can you tell us about Three Days'
director Fi Kelly, what has your collaboration been like so far, and why
was recommended to me by Fiona Gillies at Scoop Films. I sent Fi the
script in fear and trepidation. Fi comes from many years of experience
directing documentaries and
was looking for a drama project to get her teeth into. Whilst she clearly
has strong vision for the film
she takes a very collaborative approach and Fi, George and I spent a whole
day recently improv-ing around the script and I’m now re-drafting.
It’s just brilliant to have the chance to workshop your writing with
actors and the director. It’s already richer and tighter and more
focussed, thanks to Fi’s creative input with both the story and the
characters. She’s a really superb actor’s director, the three of us
love working with Fi. It feels like a very strong team.
As far as I know, Three Days is
still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your
We’re a very
friendly bunch. My belief is that everyone who contributes becomes part of
the team. Our backers are not just a means-to-an-end. Without them there
is no film. It’s their film. So we try to treat both their money and
their belief in the project with the utmost respect and integrity. We keep
people updated and try to have a bit of fun in the process – let them see
into the journey as a whole. We’ve got a Facebook page which is very
interactive and also a Twitter feed. Both great places for our fans and
supporters to stay connected and catch up on news.
The campaign is
running on IndieGoGo and we’re looking to raise £3,250 to cover the
costs of shooting the film – equipment hire, insurance, catering, travel
expenses and locations. You can find out loads of information about the
team and their credits on the page. I’m very lucky to have an
over-qualified team on board. Collectively our credits include Doctors,
EastEnders, National Geographic, The Sarah Jane
Adventures, Hollyoaks and
more. We’re all working on this for nada because we love the premise and
we love working together. We appreciate any support that can be given! We
appreciate it a lot.
Once the budget's in place, what's the
schedule - and even if it might be waaay too early to ask, any idea when
the film might be released onto the general public yet?
have a fluid pencil for a shoot in early February, all being well with the
crowdfund and availabilities. As to the release – I want to enter the
film into festivals and hopefully be accepted! So the timings will depend
a little on that. But if people would like to see it hot-off-the-press
with the team you can contribute £15 to the campaign and come to our
snazzy London premiere event with a guest! Or watch it exclusively online. See what I
future projects beyond Three Days you'd like to share?
working on a feature script. And I’d love to do some comedy, so that’s
also in the pipeline.
got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
absolutely no formal training. I’d always wanted to act, but went into
teaching as a more sensible option. I had my three lovely children and
then one day they were all grown up and at school and I said to my husband
“I think I’d like to try acting, dear” and he said “Okay. But we
haven’t got any money for drama school.” Which was true. So I started
working as an extra in TV dramas and films, to get on a set. I watched how
it worked and behaved myself. I was offered the odd line here and there
which I was able to deliver well within the pressure of recurring drama
time constraints! I racked up enough professional dialogued credits to get
Spotlight membership. I paid for a very expensive headshot so I looked
like I knew what I was doing. I did some unpaid shorts. I put a showreel
together. And I got representation through Simon & How who were
looking for screen actors of my type at the time. That’s it, really. It
took about three years from the idea to getting my agent, but I did it!
I’ve just filmed my second appearance as a character in EastEnders, so I
feel the hard work and patience is beginning to pay off!
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Three Days?
been in a variety of indie shorts and features. My mainstream credits
include EastEnders, The Sarah Jane Adventures and
commercials (actors, don’t knock them – they’re paid and there are
great directors making them) including Boots, Hyundai,
Kwik-fit and Renault. Usually to do with wrinkles or being
a bit frazzled with your kids. And cars.
Vanessa in EastEnders
How would you
describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your
characters to life?
technique is just to try not to “act”. That’s the excruciatingly
hard bit. I have to feel the characters from the inside first and each
character is different. Everything they say, everything they do needs to
have a reason behind it. A thought process, an impulse, a desire. Emotion
fuels action. So for me it has to come from within before you see it in
their eyes. And also listening. Listening is the lifeblood of authentic
acting. You say your line or react in response to the dynamic from the
other actor, which might change. Stop listening and you’re back to
“acting” which is basically just saying some lines you’ve learned
after the other person has said their lines. That’s the other thing.
Know your lines really, really well. You shouldn’t be “thinking” of
your lines when you’re doing a scene. It should be coming from your gut,
not a place of panic! Be constantly respectful of the other actors you are
working with. Adjust for them, understand them as people. Of course, I
haven’t nailed any of that yet, but those are my ideals! It’s a
continual process of self-examination and change and growth. And lots of
You're also in senior management of The
London Screenwriters' Festival - so do talk about that aspect of your
career for a bit!
– well that’s a horse of another colour! (That’s from The Wizard of
Oz, I’ve never forgotten it.) I’m Senior Festival Co-ordinator which
means that I work alongside (and slightly underneath) Chris and Judy who
head up the festival. I work with Judy shaping session ideas for the
festival, then liaising with agents and speakers to book the appropriate
clients. Last year we welcomed Christopher McQuarrie and Stephen Frears
amongst others, so it’s a pretty star-spangled affair. And then during
the festival itself I’m the 1st AD on acid – running around
on the ground talent-wrangling, trouble-shooting problems before they
arise, working with our 50-strong volunteer team to try to ensure
everything runs smoothly for our 800 guests and 150 speakers. The whole
festival runs like a massive film location with actors, speakers,
moderators and various sets all needing co-ordinating. I help with that.
It’s fantastic. I highly recommend attending.
Actresses, writers, filmmakers,
whoever else who inspire you?
Swinton always captivates me. Chris Pratt - but that’s much less
inspiration and more just your basic hormone rush. I’ve watched many
interviews with Tom Hiddlestone and I find his gracious and respectful
bearing very inspiring. I love the work
that Amma Asante is doing, she’s fabulous! And she’s a very generous
person. Indie filmmakers inspire me constantly. They just do stuff fuelled
by passion, against the odds. They’re doing everything against the odds
but the passion and drive is incredible.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
always terrible at this! Before Sunrise
(for the chemistry), Primal Fear (for Edward Norton), Guardians of the
Galaxy (for the opening credits),
(for the sheer creative audacity, attention to detail and dark humour).
and of course, films you really deplore?
I’m in no position to judge until I’ve made the perfect film myself!
movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
for the interview!