EXCLUSIVE: Welcome To The Sublime Revolution: A Conversation with Mélissa Jean Woodside
Vancouver-born actress, director and screenwriter Mélissa Jean Woodside moved to the UK to practice law, but soon realised her talents were better served working in the film industry. In a relatively short time, Mélissa has successfully created her own film finance and production company, Sublime Universal Ltd. Mélissa acted in, directed and wrote Green Sweater Guy (2015).
In September 2016, Melissa was cast in Reconstructing Jack, a ground-breaking Jack the Ripper docudrama that is being shot in virtual reality (VR) by director Kara Kandarakis for Tri-Force Entertainment.
Another 2016 project is Mélissa’s highly anticipated short film, Podsnappery: A Question of Conception. This period costume farce was shot in the stunningly picturesque Bath, UK.
Podsnappery: A Question of Conception was written and directed by Melissa and she stars playing, Gwendolyn, the love interest in the film which also features Harry Potter star Jon Campling (Death Eater), amongst an all-British cast.
The Fan Carpet sat down with Mélissa ahead of Catfish Shorts! A Short Film night, taking place at the prestigious Tribeca Film Centreon February 8th. In our exclusive interview, Mélissa tells us about what got her started in the film industry, her friendship with John Rhys-Davies, working with Courtney Harmstone and what inspired her to create her eagerly awaited Podsnappery: A Question of Conception…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the Film Industry?
Yes, I remember my mum holding me in her arms when I was little back stage. She claims I was dancing around in the womb! I was struck with the love for theatre/film very early on. She wasn’t a stage mom but she actively put me out of my comfort zone, for example dropping me off at a play and telling me to just “wing it” when I was 7 years old. I did, and loved the energy from the audience. I also performed with Ballet, musical theatre etc in Canada so I had this desire to create, to perform, and to provide emotions for public consumption and to embarrass myself. It made me feel alive even when boo’d!
I started putting on plays for my parents dinner parties who often paid us! My little sister hated it, I cast her and printed out scripts for her and paid her out of what we made. She just wanted bubble gum or to run outside and didn’t care for my promises of bigger roles or cash. I wanted to always leave a message, and to create something out of nothing.
You founded Sublime Universal and work closely with Courtney Harmstone, how did that partnership get started?
I founded my production company a couple years ago with my accountant and a desire to apply for funding or manage existing private equity.
Courtney is great, I met her through a contact at APA Agency, she is an international sophisticated lady, and a damn good production manager. I’m lucky to have her on side and hope to be just like her when I grow up!
What can you tell us about Podsnappery: A Question of Conception, your involvement and how your character fits into the story?
A friend approached me to write some showreel material. We started hanging around theatres and costume departments, and simultaneously reading old Victorian newspaper headings. We dreamt up a truly hilarious period drama/comedy situation, that is light hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
My character kind of makes fun of the old adage or story of a woman waiting for a man. You know like you see in every period drama. The film starts with mother telling her what to do with her love life. I wanted to make fun of that and say hey, what if she is busy practicing magic or too busy with her own crazy issues to care?! She’s strong, mischievous and a bit mad. She’s the a strong little girl in all of us. Kind of like Peter Pan syndrome but for women if that makes sense!?
You’re going to be hosting a short film night called Catfish Shorts at the iconic Tribeca Film Centre in New York, what can you tell us about the event and what are some of your personal highlights of the Film Night?
This came naturally. We realised we want to keep links in both UK/US/Canada and somehow be everywhere at once. We want to be able to see great UK comedies, but American comedy as well. And to have conversations about the differences across the pond, and ask questions like do women find other women funny? Really? So we are doing a funny, thought-provoking night. But nothing too heavy hopefully!
My personal highlight is the fact that so many people have flown in internationally to attend this event! We are so grateful for the amount of support, and people flying from London and elsewhere to attend ! It amazes me!
Also the photoshoot with my cat was hilarious for the flyers. She is a true artist.
Are there any other aspects of the Film Industry that you would like to pursue?
I think I’ve got my work cut out for me for now. I know I would definitely not want to do casting, I’m so horrible at that. I would get inspired by the actors and keep re-writing the roles!
Who inspires you within the industry?
Apart from everyone who I worked with on Podsnappery: A Question of Conception.
Dame Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Drew Barrymore. A bunch of dead classic actresses especially from silent era.
My mentor and friend John Rhys-Davies – he makes me look lazy!
Other than Podsnappery: A Question of Conception, what else are you working on that you’d like to tell us about?
I have a slate of feature films in NY, LA, and Vancouver! They kind of increase in budget levels. Watch this space.
And what advice do you have for someone embarking on a career in the Film Industry?
Film is like a family, work together, build a team, learn as you go. It’s a collaboration and fun. If you have fun, it shows on screen.
Also, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not living! Just roll with the punches and enjoy the ride. If you feel passionate about something, explore that, follow it through, and listen to yourself.
For more information on Podsnappery: A Question of Conception visit the Official Website.