By Pamela Drake Wilson
It all began from deep within me. I sat on the Senior Diversity committee, season 2018-2019, listening to the lamented woes of difficulty obtaining gainful employment after 55. I’m a problem solver, not a whiner, and I felt like I had been pretty lucky having begun acting as a senior (refusing to reveal my actual age at auditions….appearing 50ish. Casting sites said, “We want your appearance age”, so when we call you in ….you look like what you have represented yourself to us. Made sense to me! From the “cougar” seduced by a young rap artist’s music to the “witch” in the European film Torquemadas’s Curse, I am grateful for every role.
I’ve made many friends since moving to Los Angeles in 2011 upon retiring as a flight attendant from a Delta connection carrier. It became clear, early on, that this town was the right fit for me. I also have a repertoire of friends born of volunteering at Sundance Film festival for the past 13 years, all people who devote time each January to support independent film! In fact Monteque Pope-Le Beau was working as Press, covering my son’s band, SanguinDrake, while they performed at multiple venues at the fest. Our friendship grew from there.
All great stories unless one is named “Stephen King” come from personal experience, essays of life, and motivation to contribute to society in a good way. It was at Sundance 2018 I began to explore my concept for this parody. Sundance is very stimulating, witnessing filmmakers telling unique stories and being appreciated for their efforts. I sat with Ellen Barkin during the premiere of her film “Another Happy Day” and she shared her motivation for making this film with me. That was a few years back, but our conversation stuck with me like 2 velcro tapes.
I had been dealt some bad blows in life based upon other people’s greed leaving me shorted (as many of us have). As the years mount, not much is unique only to our own experience. Yet I began to observe that many over 55 think they are special if they have acquired considerable wealth, even if it was by wrongful means. Additionally, at social settings most persons spoke about who they used to be in the past, or the job they once held to provide their identity. Then they segwayed to all of their health problems almost as if these health problems defined their current existence. Youthful chaps had dreams, goals, furloughed through their health issues, and did not seem to obsess about the money unless it was missing from their pocket……..!
In my move from the Midwest to Los Angeles I had met 55 uppers who were acting, writing, into maintaining good health in so far as possible, not eating animals (usually), had dreams, plans, and futures, not solely defined by the goal to acquire wealth. After all, we all knew by this time it is too late. Their propensity toward sustained creativity kept them young at heart and interesting to talk to! Spiritual wealth seemed ever present. I’d found my home!
It was my second time around, attending “Digital Hollywood” that I decided to produce this Short Film. The complete storyline was in my head and I decided to share the concept with my lunch mates, one being a director, one being a “branding expert”, another being a friend who had previously asked me if we could write together. We all harbored a compatible enthusiasm for the industry and, more importantly, integrity. The initial crew was born in my mind, right then and there. Our talented director, Sharon Kay Duskin, will shape our Short into an award winning film……we humbly pray. Sharon has been nothing but an asset to me in pursuing this endeavor. Her commitment and brilliance has already touched this project!. Paul Katona, first AD, will assist in this debut spot for himself (also one of our main cast as an actor). Every communication I have with Paul has led me to write the following paragraph!
I truly believe there is a correlation between being a terrific human being and being able to act. “Inside the Casket” is loaded up with the finest of people as far as being giving, enthusiastic, kind, gracious, free spirited, and certainly living their best life, welcoming change, embracing new challenges, and being truly talented artists. I even think they all realized what a wonderful family we are when they became acquainted at our Venice Beach photo shoot January 1, 2020. We have a story to tell that crosses economic barriers and gives society a “seeing eye dog” view at how seniors are living and how they may better serve themselves and others.
Much about this film is a bit of a stretch from the norm. I’ll briefly describe my process which emanates from my own personal experience as an actor (for 6 years now).
- I did not hold auditions. 90% of my cast are actors I have previously worked with and well known to me. I know what they are capable of and believe in their talent. An audition can put pressure on actors rendering their performance anything but indicative of their best work. With love, support, inspiration, clear direction, and my belief in them, I guarantee we will get their best showcase, which leads me to one of my main objectives…….to showcase the talents of my crew and cast. The festival circuit is a prime goal for “Inside the Casket”.
- I am listening to my co-producer, Steve Allgeier, better known for his nickname “Norky”, having given me worthwhile advice and direction; he is a “branding specialist”, a creative, brilliant guy (and a lawyer…….lucky me).
- As a producer, I am welcoming new ideas from all of my cast ( a penny for every minute we speak John Skoubis…..ha). Joyce, writing with me, is a multi-faceted, multi-talented, very special person (also cast as one of our actors). We were having a lot of fun PRE-Covid 19. Our swing back will come soon, God willing! I was discussing with Noel Schwab his role as funeral director in our Short, and his feelings and thoughts about the evolution of his character led me to come up with the treatment for the series I plan to produce as a spin off from “Inside the Casket”. Same team we hope. I am embracing suggestions, creative critiques from our film family. 55 plus folk are ahead of the game! And the stories planned for our series will prove cathartic and profound, especially now in light of so much happening in the world today!
- From the moment I put a post on facebook sharing my plan to produce a Short promoting “baby boomers” and even better……casting only “baby boomers”, this Short has taken on a life of its own……until Covid 19. My timeframe, sponsors, locations, discipline, and enthusiasm has been somewhat derailed. We will get back…….Brian Sebastian will interview our cast and crew as previously slotted for! Dates are pushed back, but our love and agenda is unfaltering.
- In less than a day this film was cast. We have an exceptional cast. I felt so happy and so honored to have heard from top notch actors here in Hollywood (to include the phenomenol Dennis Nicomede, now residing in Texas). I never thought twice about bringing him back for our shoot. To know him is to love him and admire his immeasurable abilities! I will admit I did lean toward those who reached out promptly and enthusiastically. But since I was familiar with everyone’s work whom I cast both as actors and as people, I thought…….Why not cast the ones who are hungry for this opportunity? I had to turn so many fine people away. That part was not fun.
- Now that I had my dream team I set up a facebook page so I could communicate easily with our cast and share our fun journey with the public. Interestingly, this page has attracted responses from A-listers and industry people, bringing wanted attention to our project! https://www.facebook.com/babyboomersshortfilm/
- Movie posters were a success and there are more to come, thanks to talented Mousa Akeel and his contribution to our project!
- Our background actors are made up of good artists in their own right, all seniors with personalities and style, bringing a lot to this Short. They will be named shortly, but they all have been personally notified.
When we are past Covid, and now (tragically) George and the egregious taking of his life………a moment of reflection…………………, my crew will do a reboot. Look for planned rehearsals, a welcomed script, our eventual shooting days, much more publicity featuring our superstar theatre professional, Jeffrey Winner, who is lucky to be lying down in a casket while we are standing…….lol.
The wisdom and love and loss encompassed within “baby boomers” needs to break out. My favorite quote from Robert Plant is “Bust Out With All You Got”. Well, we plan to get YOU, our viewers, outside the casket with our mystery comedy. What are you doing in there so soon after age 55?
Pamela Drake Wilson
Baby Boomer Filmmaker
I am so blessed, and so excited to be directing “Inside the Casket”! 🙂 One of the many reasons that I am excited to be directing “Inside the Casket”, is the wonderful people that I get to work with. Pamela put together an amazing cast, and crew! 🙂
I love working with Pamela. She is so amazing, and really, she is a genius. She somehow knows how to make things happen that normally are very difficult, or impossible. She never stops, or gives up on her projects , and the people that are involved! 🙂 I love her heart! ?
I also love that she is sticks to what she says, and she always tries to do the right thing. Pamela is also an amazing, and very talented actor! It will be my pleasure , and joy to direct this cast! ?Super excited about this film! 🙂
Sharon Kay Duskin
Just a note on our talent:
Joyce Lakin / overqualified, yet here she is with her talent and her heart!
Sharon Kay Duskin / experienced with SAG directing, appropriately ambitious/ and credited with casting another Short starring Robert Amico and Pamela Drake Wilson…..she moves fast!
Steve Allgeier / everything is better with him on board / even the title of our Short…….great mind!
Dian Van Patten / would you like a book?/ she has done it all, and her extraordinary beauty takes a backseat to her professionalism / steps up to the plate ready to impress!
Pamela Clay / ever so nice to each and everyone / amazing singing talent / young forever too!
Rhino Michaels / what’s not to love? / he’ll show you how great he is / if I were a man……..I wanna live his life!
Dennis Nicomede / one of the finest actors you’ll ever get the privilege to work with / he’ll keep you laughing at the same time! When you think he’s done giving; he will give you some more! / 156 acting credits are not there for no reason!
Michael Barnard / being overqualified for most everything won’t stand in his way / not this time
Jeffrey Winner / irresistible trivia……we graduated from high school together and landed out here in the same industry / many of the best film stars come from theatre…….his legacy I suspect will be no different!
Graham Mackie / to date “best film face ever” / and hell of an actor / we have been wanting to work together for years!
John Skoubis / serious actor and now is his shot / many abilities….thinks out of the box, which I embrace!
Ken Phillips / words cannot express how lucky we are to have a performer of his calibre in our film!
Noel Schwab / photographer / adventurer / dog whisperer / an example of who we strive to be / natural actor!
Paul Katona / writer / director / poet / serious actor / deep thinker / he will bring great talent to our Short!
Debbie Kindred / co-acted with her so many times / always a stellar performance and loving spirit on set!
Evelyn Brinson / her kindness, talent, and desire is our gift!
Kelly Kaminsky / lucky I got him and I won’t let go / highly professional, highly skilled / perfectly cast if I may say!
Katherine Lansing Davis / selfless creativity and consummate teacher by nature / she will nail her part!
Angelica Neece / natural ability / classic example of how great people make great actors!