Zoom is the new phenomenon and now the best way to hold meetings, meet friends and have events. I have met many new people through Zoom. I belong to an organisation, based in LA, called Greenlight Women…it’s a group of women over 40, successfully working in the film industry, in front of and behind the camera, who to meet, discuss, network and support each other in this challenging, largely young, male dominated industry. (What a mouthful!) I have belonged to this group for a couple of years now, but have not really had the chance to get know the women in it, having not been in LA too much, the last few years.
Zoom has changed all that and I have been able to join a weekly meeting once a week, online and hear and exchange experiences and ideas. It has been great and has kept me even more in touch with the business I love and people working in it. My US Manager, based in LA, Marion Rosenberg OBE introduced me to the organisation and I am grateful. Marion is and always has been a distinguished and committed member of the film business. She is a Producer – Stuntwomen, Hollow Man, Executive Producer on Revolutionary Road, Associate Producer on Deerhunter, among many other credits and was the Founder of BAFTA -LA , before adding management to her impressive career.
AMPAS ( the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) has been keeping busy during the pandemic, putting on Events etc via Zoom and online screenings. I am a member of the Academy and I am still much involved in the UK branch, having been on the Events Committee when I was more largely based in London. We were chaired then by wonderful Gary Kurtz Producer of Star Wars. Gary is sadly no longer with us, but he was a
special man, deeply involved in the Film Industry and keeping high the quality of film making. The business is full of these people who genuinely love and know film and are committed to maintaining the excellent standard of work, which keeps audiences entertained throughout the world. Often we don’t hear about them, but they are there and are those Producers and Directors, who have truly bolstered the high class of work, through all of the commercial demands to sustain film and media, as one of the highest ranking financial industries in the world.
Last week I joined a Zoom Event put on by Carola Ash Director of Europe for the Academy…a conversation with Mike Leigh OBE. I was in Idaho, there were members from London and around the UK and Europe, and from Hollywood. Thanks to Zoom we were all able to attend this interesting event. Mike is one of the most successful, talented, active Directors in the business – his terrific film about Gilbert and Sullivan – Topsy Turvy is released by the Criterion Collection. His film Vera Drake is one of my all time favourites…heartbreaking film.
Mike sent me an email after the Academy event was over reminding me, that we were acquainted, having been at RADA together and also that we had worked in repertory theatre together, one of my first jobs. I am ashamed to say I had forgotten both, however he kindly reminded me as follows:
“Not only were we at RADA at the same time, but just after that, we both fetched up at Leatherhead Rep, where I was briefly an ASM.
The brevity was due to my being accidentally hit rather hard in the eye by an electric plug I failed to catch when a guy threw it to me during a tech.
This resulted in my winding up on University College Hospital’s Eye Ward for six weeks, never to return to Leatherhead.”
I replied that I was too busy worrying about what the dragon of a Director of the Company thought of me…I knew she did not like me and thought I was pretty useless as an actress. This is what he came back with:
“Hell, yes, Jane – Hazel Vincent Wallace, the Ogre of Leatherhead! Awful woman! What a dreadful old-fashioned dump that place was! They gave us ASMs forty minutes for lunch, which meant that the only place we had time to eat was in the theatre’s overpriced restaurant, with its overbearing clientelle of Leatherhead ladies in hats! I think I was glad to escape. Far more fun in hospital, where I shared a small ward with a schoolmaster from Merthyr Tydfil who’d come to London with tickets for all the Proms, but had had his eyeball stabbed by an umbrella spoke in Oxford Street. As a result of which we listened to all the Proms on the ward radio (there were no headphones). Also resulting in my lifetime umbrellaphobia!”
Nothing like some real humour to finish this up and it couldn’t have come from a nicer, very seriously gifted Director.