Cultmachine’s Sharon Jordan and Shannon Luster sat down with SHONA MCWILLIAMS for an interview centering around her thoughts on producing, acting, editing, and more. Shona McWilliams is a well-respected producer collaborating with Andrew Tiernan on several projects including “DRAGONFLY” that she also edited. Shona is a well-known actress too, acting alongside such notable actors like Andrew Tiernan, Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, and others. This interview explores Shona’s experiences in film both in front and behind the camera.
SHARON JORDAN: You are talented in many venues, including acting, editing, and producing. And you are nearing the release of releasing the first feature you produced, “DRAGONFLY.” When will “DRAGONFLY” be released? What can you tell us about this film?
SHONA MCWILLIAMS: Well, we’re currently finalizing the post-production on the film and doing a sound mix, so once that’s complete, hopefully we will be taking the film to Festivals in 2014 and attaining Sales and Distribution. It’s a neo-noir thriller set in London, about corrupt police and politicians. But Andrew Tiernan, the Director, is so secretive about it, I can’t give too much away just yet; he’s always shouting at people for posting things online. I know he won’t mind me saying that. Ha ha. It was a challenge for me to produce, act and edit the production, but it was a really fulfilling experience. Some days, I had to remind myself which hat I had on, when you’re trying to do an emotional scene in front of the camera, and the sound person is asking you about the location next Thursday.
SHANNON LUSTER: On your upcoming film, “DRAGONFLY,” you were also cast as one of the lead actresses. What was it like working with Andrew Tiernan and Ann Mitchell? What are some of your favorite memories from “DRAGONFLY?”
SM: “DRAGONFLY,” is an ensemble piece, starring some very experienced Actors and Actresses, like Mark Wingett (“QUADROPHENIA”) and Ramon Tikaram (“THIS LIFE”), for example, have done a lot of work, sometimes I could feel very intimidated by that, but they were so kind and made me feel very relaxed. For me, working with Ann Mitchell was a pleasure, as she is an actress I have always admired the work of, especially Widows, so getting the opportunity to talk to her and hear her advice was fantastic.
A favorite memory for me is getting to work in a beautiful Country House owned by Martin Gore, of Depeche Mode, I’m a massive fan of the band so was over the moon, but unfortunately, he wasn’t there. But I got to see how megastars live.
SL: You acted as Gracie Kramer in the film “MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS.” What was it like acting with Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins? Any favorite memories you would like to share with us?
SM: I use Final Cut Pro for editing. I had previously used tape to tape editing when I was younger and learnt how to use Cubase for sound edits. So learning Final Cut was a challenge for me, as I was teaching myself from scratch how to utilize and manipulate a new software, but you make mistakes and learn from them. Quite literally. Also we’re very lucky to live in the age of the Internet, as there’s always search engines and YouTube to get “how to” advice from. Luckily, I have some great friends around who were able to give me pointers when I felt unsure of myself. But my tips would be to any aspiring editors, is firstly, just give it a go, you never know until you try and don’t be afraid to be daring in how you edit, try to have your own unique style as well as conforming to what is required technically.
SM: I’m still being inspired by people, probably too many to mention. I was born at Bellshill Maternity, and firstly lived in Hamilton, Scotland, but my Father’s work took my family up and down the UK.
SL: Is there anything else that you'd like to talk about that we haven't covered?
SM: I would only say that my best advice to anyone whether it be Acting, Editing, Producing, Writing, Directing etc is to get out there and do it, nothing is stopping you, you don’t need backing, you don’t need approval, and don’t wait for the phone to ring, as it probably never will. You create your own destiny and it’s not queuing up going into talent shows on TV, it’s being prepared to starve and live like a struggling artist and being happy with that life. And when you do get a job turn up on time, learn your lines and leave your ego at the door.
SM: I have a couple of ideas in the pipeline for future projects, but I’m just waiting for Mr. Tiernan to decide which he’d like to do. But in the meantime, I’m going to go horse-riding lessons and maybe bake a Victoria Sponge as I’ve rekindled my love for Baking and enjoying finally having the time to do it.