Making a low budget periodic film sounds like an oxymoron. Cheryl Neve, a London based writer and actress, knew that the lack of a 'Hollywood budget' would be challenging, yet decided to follow her passion and write Gilded, a short drama about World War II. We asked Cheryl to join us for an interview.
Gilded is your 'baby' in many ways. You wrote it, produced it, acted in it. It must have been a difficult decision for you, whether to direct it or not. Why did you decide not to direct it, and what did you learn from wearing so many hats at the same time?
Gilded is most definitely my ‘baby’, and hopefully the first of many as I grow and evolve as a filmmaker in our wonderful, creative industry! Paul J Lane was always in place to direct and edit it, and I fully admire his artistic eye. He brought the script to life in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of doing at the time. With that side of things taken care of, I was able to concentrate on the writing, creating my character Rosalie, and also the production side of things – the location, the props, the costumes etc. I do hope to eventually try my hand at directing, however!
Gilded - Official Trailer
It's very challenging to produce a periodic film. Where did you find the passion and courage to take on such a demanding task?
I have always loved war films, because in the midst of terrible circumstances there are many stories of human courage and sacrifice – the recent Hacksaw Ridge is a brilliant example of this. Because I am passionate about this period, producing a film that touched upon the experiences of SOE agents in wartime France was exhilarating rather than demanding. The biggest challenge was not having a Hollywood budget to make it, but I was able to be resourceful, whether it was making my own props or visiting some of the many vintage shops in London.
How long did it take, from writing the script to the first screening?
I would say that it took about a year, from writing the very first page of my script, to Gilded being accepted into festivals and screened.
Julia Parker, our jury member, depicted Paul J Lane as the perfect partner for this film. How did you start this collaboration, and what was it like to work with him?
Paul J Lane was my acting coach, and we had already worked on some other films together, so I knew that he would perfect to play the ‘sinister’ character of Gunter. As a director, Paul knows how to coax the best out of his actors and the atmosphere on set always felt very safe and relaxed.
When writing the script, did you already have in mind the music and songs that you were going to feature in the movie?
When I wrote the script, I already knew that my character Rosalie would be singing “After You’ve Gone” by Marion Harris, so I focussed a lot on writing the story around the song and interspersing the song with flashbacks. The other tracks were chosen by Paul during editing.
What was the most exciting moment of the production, for you? What did you enjoy the most?
I love the process leading up to making a film, but most of all I enjoy getting on set and bringing my character to life. I think I most enjoyed filming at Westenhanger Castle, especially the scene where Rosalie comes face to face with Gunter in the barn. I very much felt in character, and remember my heart pounding in fear – not my fear, but hers!
What is next for you? Is there a role you'd like to focus on?
I am very excited to be involved in spy thriller The Doorman, to be directed by the talented Patrick Ryder. I wrote the script and came to Patrick with the idea, and thankfully he liked it enough to take it on! We are due to start filming very shortly, and we have a great cast and crew lined up. I will be playing a character called Gabrielle Rothchild, a mysterious woman who goes missing during the course of the film. After The Doorman, I would like to focus on sci-fi and also collaborating with other female filmmakers.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
I would like to add that I’m very grateful to all the people who have helped me along on this journey and brought me to where I am today.