As a casting director, Andrea Kelland knows why people get booked for acting jobs. Perhaps that’s why she’s so honest about how she landed the role in gay short film The Colonel’s Outing.
“I’ve got a quirky face,” she laughs down the phone from her day job in casting at Shortland Street. “I’ve always been a character actress, even when I was younger. I was never the ingénue or the lead actress – I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride! But I always find the quirky roles much more interesting – it’s much more fun and challenging to be a baddie or a person with a vested interest in something. It means you don’t have to be nice and good all the time!”
In The Colonel’s Outing, Andrea plays a dour rest home Matron with a penchant for peeping through blinds and shooting unimpressed looks at rest home resident Tristan Arthur Jones and his new friend, Colonel Robert Leadley. This was the first time Andrea worked on a gay film, but says she is no stranger to GLBT theatre.
“I’ve worked on a lot of gay cabaret and theatre. Being gay in the ’80s and ’90s meant I was involved in a lot of feminist theatre with gay themes. This was the first film I’ve worked on, and being involved with gay people was really nice, but I didn’t play a gay character. There is absolutely nothing gay about my character!
“The Matron is set in her ways – very serious, very proper… she’s almost from another era. [Director] Chris Banks is vague about when his movies are set – the costume I wear is very 1918 and corseted, which led me to ask what era I was to play the character to. Chris said he didn’t like to put his finger on that and that’s where a lot of the film’s magic comes from. With the use of antique cars but no others on the road to compare them to, the heritage-listed Alberton as the location of the rest home, and antique dinnerware used throughout, the film is sort of suspended in time so you don’t know when it is set.
“This suits the character of the Matron just fine – she herself seems like a woman of another era; she is not a contemporary woman by any stretch of the imagination.”
Andrea says despite the vagueness of time, being on set with a director like Chris Banks makes everyone around calm and comfortable. “Chris is gentle and nice, but he also absolutely knows the piece inside out, back-to-front and upside down. He knows every aspect of the film and how he wants things to be. You feel very held and secure! Sometimes you work with people and you almost feel like they’re experimenting with you. With Chris, because he absolutely understood the piece, we didn’t need to be directed in a way because we could see where he was coming from and what he wanted out of the characters we were playing.”
Andrea says the film was “a brave thing to take on” and congratulates production company Number 8 Films on choosing the story they did. “The Colonel’s Outing is about older people falling in love and having a special relationship. In the media – on television and in films – you hardly ever get the stories of older people, particularly people in their 80s. We hope the younger part of the community sees this film and realises there’s hope for them yet! Love, companionship and sex don’t stop after your 20s!”
The Colonel’s Outing premieres at the next Auckland Gay Film Night – 6.30pm, 14 July at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket. See the film, behind-the-scenes clips and take part in a Q&A. For tickets, visit www.rialto.co.nz.
| Hannah JV