I started to create a website for this film in development. However – my technical skills wouldn’t stretch that far…my lovely web master Aaron Day, was too busy and a bit expensive, I had sorted of played around with Wix.com, a useful do it yourself web builder and then had the brainstorm at 4am, lying in bed….just add a page to janemerrow.com ! Like most people I find that our “Light bulb” moments come in the waking hours when we are alone, trying to sleep. So here goes, this is a sort of website/blog/diary of getting this story from script to screen.
Raymond has ALS (Motor Neuron Disease), Raymond, a strong man, a successful former criminal lawyer, is reduced to living his life in a wheelchair, slowly degenerating, tended by his loving wife Antonia. Antonia is a Roman Catholic, deeply religious. Raymond wants Antonia to help him to leave his miserable life behind. They argue, reminicse and eventually…well – this is a love story….
I am on LinkedIn and noticed that this very nice man John Caine was endorsing me for various talents…so in the end I asked him who he was and what did he have to do with show biz, as his background sounded largely financial? Turns out that he was not only a well known writer, having received an MBE for his services to the theatre, but also an experienced theatrical Producer, having started out with the great Albert Finney. I asked to read something of his, always on the lookout for good writing. And goodness was I surprised and delighted to get and read John’s wonderful script for REUNION. Immediately I asked for an option to purchase the script and get the story made into a film. So here we are some months into the process. Part of the history of course includes the London Production of the play, which was really well received by critics and audience alike.
ACTOR/ PRODUCER: JANE MERROW
WRITER: JOHN CAINE
DIRECTOR : LINCOLN LEWIS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: MARION ROSENBERG
CASTING DIRECTOR: FERNE CASSEL
After organising an option with John, thoughts turned to budget, location, a Director and an Actor to play Raymond. Which way to go? My preferred route was and is for some kind soul to give us a dollop of cash and say, just get on with it, with the best Actor and crew we can put together and just go do it. We have a wonderful script, the budget is low and I want to make it in Boise, Idaho with people I had already worked with, in a location I knew to be easy and uncomplicated and cost effective for film making. I had worked with Lincoln Lewis on three films and admired him, his ideas and work ethic. He suggested moving it from the UK to the US to open up the story…it is after all a huge, universal subject of great interest to many people in many countries. He would be Director of Photography, both agreeing that this needed to look like a proper film and not a photographed play. In the meantime my Manager and friend, Marion Rosenberg, whose experience in development and Production is vastly superior to mine had agreed to take an Executive Producer role and help with key introductions. I knew we were likely to need a ‘name’ to play Raymond, to help with sales and Marion introduced me to Casting Director Ferne Cassell in LA, a significant step in the right direction. Ferne has an impressive track record and could get the script to the agents and managers of Actors, whose good will and co-operation is critical in finding an Actor. I cannot tell you how important and difficult it is to get those doors open in Hollywood and Ferne has the experience and credibility to do it. So there we are – at present looking for the lead actor and the finance! In the meantime after a couple of stumbles with Directors, Lincoln offered to direct and I gladly accepted and believe us to be in a safe pair of hands with someone who loves and understands the story and who will make it look like a proper film. Furthermore I know we need someone younger, experienced at working with current technology and cinematic trends.
In the meantime during our ongoing search for Finance in Idaho, I organised a stage reading with Jon Kane of NexStage directing,in Sun Valley, to get a feel for the words, rhythm and audience response. Plus there’s some significantly wealthy people in Sun Valley, who might be interested in putting in a few dollars into a film made in Idaho, an attractive place in which to make movies! I found a wonderful actor (alas too young to play opposite me in a film) Aaron Moore and we did a reading which fulfilled all my expectations and beyond….the audience response was excellent and immediate. (The REUNION Reading is available for viewing…filmed on an iPhone!)