The lowdown on behind the scenes gossip from Kerry Leigh (Jill).
Why oh why isn’t there a UK lesbian web series? Wonder no more. ‘She’s In London’ hits the screens on Sunday 27th September on tellofilms.com I was moist with excitement to hear I’d got a part in it. I realised how much I’d missed acting at the audition - loving that process in itself. It was almost a year since my last acting role and that had been in a stage play during the 2014 Women in Comedy Festival. Most of my work these days is facilitating for Laughology, performing stand-up comedy, and parenting my two girls and acting had taken a backstep.
My training in acting was in the late 90s at University in Western Australia, and focused on theatre more than film. I’m no stranger to the camera though – I was in an advert for ‘Toy & Hobby’ in 1985 (younger readers, that was THE toy shop to go back then – before the fluorescent-lit warehouses of ‘Toys R Us’), AND a comedy advert for the BBC in 2004 - so I’m a seasoned pro (wink emoticon).
Technically I was the outsider of ‘She’s in London’ being the only Northerner on the cast and crew, but I was never made to feel that way. It wasn’t all ‘luvvy’ and ‘dahlings’ though, thank god. It was friendly and fun without any power dynamics or daft politics getting in the way. Runners, actors, extras, make up, wardrobe, director, writer, producer... we all just got on with the job. Producer Kat Holmes threatened to be ‘Hitler with tits’ if she had to but the need never really arose - a little disappointing as the phrase conjures up such a cheeky image.
The notion of a moustache reminds me: I decided to tidy myself up before the first day of filming. You know - had a wash, a haircut, even got my eyebrows shaped. I’m not big on this stuff but my eyebrows can grow to the length of distraction. I didn’t want any awkward silences as the female equivalent of Liam Gallagher arrived on set. Just as the beautician leaned in very close to my face with hot wax she says: ‘And what are we going to do about this?’ pointing to the fine hair on my upper lip. ‘You wouldn’t want that showing up on film’. I am ashamed to say my feminist principles deserted me in that moment and aged 39 I had my ‘moustache’ abruptly waxed off seconds later. I’m so sorry I let you down sisters. I won’t be doing it again. It hurt.
My character in ‘She’s in London’ is Jill – she’s the ‘mama bear’ of the main characters. You could wither under Jill’s gaze if you upset her. I like to think she’s a bit sexy too. OK so she didn’t get any steamy scenes, but watch what happens in Series Two (stares wistfully out of the train window as she types).
The reality of acting for film is there is a lot of waiting around whilst other scenes are shot or being set up, so it was a relief that the rest of the cast and crew were friendly, and essentials like cake were never far away as we were in a central location - the main one being below ground in the fabulous ‘She Bar’ in Soho.
Filming indoors under the lights gets you moist in an armpit / upper lip kind of a way (you should never miss an opportunity to use the ‘m’ word). A few seconds under their intense glare and you really need water. I think I’ve actually physically grown since filming... Hydroponics for humans! We could set up studios for people who wanted to be that little bit taller – ‘Heels No More’...This is what my brain does. Focus Kerry!
Its funny how in a relatively short space of time when you are with a group of people working on a project together for days you create your own bubble of a life. Remember school camps when you didn’t want to go home at the end because you had a new family now and it was so much fun and felt safe and miles away from the humdrum of day-to-day?
So I decided to leave this world in style. At the wrap party I represented the North with typical gusto re my alcohol consumption, which ordinarily isn’t nearly that much. It had absolutely nothing to do with the alcohol being free. Ahem. Great night – the image that resonates most is of me doing what can only be described as ‘grinding’ my body against a table edge, whilst a queue of like-minded lesbians formed a grinding chain behind me – a bit like an inappropriate conga… the ‘wronga’? Kerry, focus. Focus.
There are more amusing drunken scenes in ‘She’s In London’ and a very juicy lesbian love triangle threaded through a storyline that unites the characters to save Jill’s bar, inspired by the reality of the corporate homogeneity now threatening to swallow London’s lesbian scene. Swallow that sentence if you will! (I thought it up all by myself using spellchecker only once).
I have had the pleasure of sneaky peaks at the edits of ‘She’s In London’ and I am proud to say it is looking good. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I have enjoyed being a part of it. Hello Tello.