Working with Stars

The Stars rehearsing

Following my previous post of 28th May regarding the making of the short film, ‘Striativus’, which deals with mental illness and loneliness, written by Chantelle Dickson, the whole crew and cast were bursting with excitement to welcome the actor who would play the male leading character, Tristan, and was scheduled to shoot all his scenes yesterday,  Saturday 8th June, at our base at the Jeneses Church and Art Centre in Bognor Regis.  This was no other than Alexander Vlahos, whom you may have seen on BBC’s Merlin, playing the part of Mordred (he killed King Arthur) and in Versailles, the Franco-Canadian historical fiction show in which he shone as the brother of King Louis XIV, Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, which he impersonated with brilliant flair and charisma and, in my opinion, the most endearing character of the whole show.

Alex Vlahos (middle) with Tom Flynn (Grip & Electric and camera on the left) and Theo Wyzgowski (Sound Recordist on the right)
Alex ready for rehearsal
Vanessa Mayfield ready for rehearsal

I had the great honour of meeting him at Barnham Railway Station late on Friday evening in order to drive him to his accommodation for the night at Slindon, a few hundred metres from our current location, but even better was the unexpected privilege of playing alongside him all day yesterday, which proved to be a very exciting and almost surreal day for most of us. Alex proved to be utterly charming and funny, with a gift to make us all feel relaxed and at ease, whilst having a lot of fun into the bargain.  His enthusiasm and professionalism were infectious and I know we all (professional actors and amateurs) gave it our very all, heart and soul.

And for the first time in my life, I was made-up and dressed for a film set, for which I was required to age somewhat, walking stick and all! My character is called Winnifred.

All dressed up and somewhere to go!

Look at those wrinkles! How old do I look? Don’t answer that!!!
Siana Smith (left) and Vanessa Mayfield, who play Hannah and Kacey respectively
And I just couldn’t resist a picture with these amazing ladies!

And, of course, all these people need to eat and drink at some point, so we had amazing chef and friend (and PJ’s adoptive mother) Clare Ockwell on set to cook for us all and made sure we had plenty to keep us going, serving both cooked breakfast and lunch: a true unsung hero!

Clare Ockwell hard at work in the kitchen assisted by Robin Hughes

Even the local press was interested and the Bognor Regis Post came to write and article and take some photos!

Photographing the Photographer from The Bognor Regis Post

During our lunch break, Alex was entrusted with the task of presenting a belated birthday cake to our main leading lady, Vanessa Mayfield, who plays Kacey, as it had been her birthday on the first day of shooting, which we sadly and shamefully overlooked.  Vanessa is a fine actor in her own right and also completely delightful and a wonderful team player.

A belated surprise birthday cake is presented to Vanessa Mayfield by Alexander Vlahos

But, however special and magical that meeting Alex was, I was also very fortunate to meet the other members of the cast that were scheduled for filming yesterday and I ended the day having made more friends with whom I hope we will be working again in future.  I fear we may all have caught the acting bug!

Having a bit of fun waiting to be called. With fellow fellow cast member Elliott Crossley, who kept us laughing all day long
Cast and Crew getting ready for filming
Myself on set, middle with Elliott
Alex with ‘The Therapy Group’ with Harriet Porter (left of Alex), Jane Baxter (sitting on the right in green top) Melissa Buckland and Debby to the right of Alex
Abigail Ockwell (playing schoolgirl Olivia), Harriet Porter (Brianna) and Jane Baxter (Joan)

And just as before, it wasn’t just the acting members of the show that were vital to the film’s completion, but the crew members working behind the scenes, who are also essential on any project.  So here are a few shots behind the scenes of the making of ‘Striativus’.  Enjoy!  We did! 

Crew on the sidelines, with Samson Croucher (Grip) and Megan Pritchard (Hair and Make-up) on the left, Jade Cooke (Unit Stills Photographer) on the right and Script Writer, Chantelle Dickson, walking away on the right
Cast and crew keeping out of shot, with Set Designer Kathleen Lamb, and George Shillingford, 2nd Assistant Director on the left, Abigail Ockwell dressed as a school girl, Aston Buckland, Megan Pritchard and Daniel Foss (Stills Camera) on the right.
Kathleen Lamb (Set Designer), George Shillingford (2nd Assistant Director) and Poppy Cheeseman (Standby Costume Assistant and fellow cast member)
Fiona Calllingham, one of our wonderful PAs doing a fine job
PJ giving instruction to the ‘The Therapy Group’ with James, our new Script Supervisor
PJ with script writer Chantelle Dickson, Director of Photography Boryana Dzhivdzhanova, and Vanessa Mayfield in costume ready for shooting
Key Make-up Artist Alice Osborne putting finishing touches on Alex, with PJ and Boryana. Photo credit to Jane Baxter

Aston Buckland, PA to Alex, and Elliott
PJ carrying cake to celebrate film completion. Photo credit to Jane Baxter
What beautiful touch! The second cake of the day!
Getting ready for group photo after filming

And after all the excitement of the day, we celebrated with an Indian meal at Cardamon Bay in Bognor Regis and I finally got my selfie with Alex and my wonderful son, who made it all possible. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

The end of a hard, but very rewarding day with Alex Vlahos and PJ Saysell-Rosales

With huge gratitude to all the cast and crew of ‘Striativus’: YOU ROCK!

14 thoughts on “Working with Stars

  1. This is SO exciting . . . all of it! Producing and getting cast in a play, Fatima! You really rocked that walking stick.

    You all are having your cake and eating it too. Best wishes for a good reception for the film. I know you’ll keep us posted all the way through.

    You must be VERY proud of your son!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Marian. I am still pinching myself. I am just so very proud that my son, only 26 years old, has pulled this through! I am just hoping that it will succeed and make some money for all the people who believed in him and volunteered to work to make this project come to life, many of whom worked for free! I am overwhelmed by their generosity and good hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am still floating on air, can’t believe it happened. The whole thing was so surreal and having him in my car all the way from Barnham to Slindon, just the 2 of us, it just didn’t seem real. He is, however, a very down-to-earth type of man and made everyone feel like we had known him forever. A true Star! Of course I will share next Monday. There should be an article about it in Bognor Regis Post this Friday. 👍❤


  2. Amazing!! I loved Alexander Vlahos in Versailles. Lucky you. What a great experience. It looks like everyone had fun too. All the best for this film and to Peter. Well done!!


    1. Thank you, Darlene. It really was an amazing and fun experience and we’ve just seen article in local paper. I am extremely proud of PJ and all involved. Alex was very professional and easy to work with. Just Fab! 👍❤


  3. Don’t know about that! I will be more involved with the organisation of things thanks to my admin background as my role is of Production Coordinator, but who knows? I will assist in an acting role as an extra if required. I just hope we can attract more famous names to help us get noticed.


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