A Conversation with Olivia Maiden, Angel-May Webb, Ilirian Bushi and Anais Jessica Berinde
Olivia Maiden is an actress and director, known for Peace in Our Time, The Trial of Rebecca Worlock (2017) and Kat and the Band.
British born actress Angel-May Webb was born in Nottingham England in 2004. She is known for her roles as Young Nicole in Homeless Ashes (2019), Young Kayeight in V vs V- Odins Abomination (2020) and Nikita in Last Village on the right (2020). She has also worked on a variety of short films and online videos.
Ilirian Bushi was born on March 5, 2005 in Hitchin & Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. He is an actor, known for My Time (2018), The Force of Nature (2019) and The CFF Story (2018).
Anais Jessica Berinde has appeared in various TVC’s and Films . She is studying acting for screen, commercial dance and commercial vocal at House Of Talent Performing Arts School in London. She is committed to enhancing her skills so she can build her career in film industry.
‘When Emma heads into the wilderness with “The Explorers” for a weekend of fun survival skill training and outdoor activities, what she finds in the woods is more than what she bargained for!’
Written and Directed by Laura Ellen Wilson
Co-Directed and Produced by Laura Saxon
In our interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Marc Jason Ali sat down with Olivia Maiden, Angel-May Webb, Ilirian Bushi and Anais Jessica Berinde to talk about their Short Film In Bluebell Wood, they tell us about how they got into the industry, how they got involved and what they hope for the future…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the Film Industry?
Ilirian: I’ve always enjoyed acting and regularly performed at our local theatre in various stage plays and pantomimes; and was a member of a local part time stage school, who had their own agency. My first paid professional job was through them, for Samsung. I played the role of a young magician and spent a day filming on location in London. I’ve been hooked ever since then and definitely wish to continue developing my career in the industry.
Anais: Ever since I was young, I have always played different characters in the mirror, at school and anywhere I could. It was a big part of my childhood. So, for me to now be fulfilling my dream is such a blessing.
Angel-May: My defining moment would probably when I got cast in the feature film homeless ashes, as it was one of my first ever professional works.
Olivia: My first introduction to the industry was when I made and acted in my first short film when I was fourteen. I had no prior screen acting or filmmaking experience, I was just so excited to tell a story close to my heart through film, but it was all very new to me. I learnt so much with the help of some incredible and experienced industry professionals, and since then I have just fallen in love with all things film, screen acting especially, and haven’t been able to stop.
How did you get involved with In Bluebell Wood, and what can you tell us about your involvement in the production?
Ilirian: I already knew Laura Ellen Wilson, the talented writer of In Bluebell Wood, through another project I’m involved in: Day One, a fantasy horror series, although we are yet to meet as Covid-19 has postponed the scenes I’m filming.
I am playing the role of Toby, in In Bluebell Wood but can’t tell you too much about his character yet, just that you’ll meet him at the Scout Camp the Explorers are staying at.
Anais: I met Laura Ellen Wilson on set of the pilot ‘Day One’ and we instantly got along so well. We’re both crazy and are always laughing together so, it was very easy for us to get along because were so alike. Laura Saxon and I met on set of ‘VvsV’. She is such a wonderful person and is always trying to help others. I am looking forward to bringing my character Chantelle to life and to work with such an amazing cast and crew.
Angel-May: My mum applied when she saw the film advertised on Facebook and I was offered the role of Holly who’s a teenager that likes to do Tik-toks. The role suits me really well as I’m literally addicted to Tik-tok.
Olivia: I was invited into the production back in January as ‘Kat’. As soon as I was sent the script, I fell in love instantly. It’s such a unique story about friendship and courage. Laura S & Laura W have created a huge buzz around the film, on social media and with the cast and crew, and we are all so excited to get on set and start filming.
What is your preferred genre, and do you have any favourite films?
Ilirian: My favourite genre of film to watch is adventure and action films because I love escaping into the exciting story lines and watching the high energy fight scenes, explosions, physical stunts and disaster sequences. My favourite films are The Maze Runner trilogy, Jojo Rabbit and 1917. Although I’m also a fan of Back to the Future and the Harry Potter film series.
Anais: I would say horror and action are my two favourite genres. Although I do love every film genre. My favourite film at the moment is Bad Boys for Life. It is such an exciting movie! I would say my top two films are the James Bond or Fast and Furious film franchise.
Angel-May: My preferred film genre to watch has to be comedy. For example, Step Brothers with Will Ferrell, or White Chicks. To be honest I love all genres even horrors, even though I still hide behind the blanket when watching.
Olivia: I am definitely most experienced in dramas and period films so as an actor, I would say that is probably my preferred genre. But I love watching horrors, especially ones with a good story and during lockdown, comedies are also great for light-hearted relief. So, I guess it depends on the occasion! I don’t think I could choose a favourite film, there are just so many to choose from, but I love Greta Gerwig as a modern director and Gil Kenan’s ‘City of Ember’.
Are there any other aspects of the Film Industry that you would like to pursue?
Ilirian: Although I love acting and I am hoping to pursue a career as an actor, I am also interested in developing my skills and gaining more experience behind the camera. I have written a few show reel scenes and have started playing around with editing. I’m currently considering studying a 2 year extended diploma in creative media production for film and TV after my GCSEs next year.
Anais: I love photography and working with a camera so I would definitely consider working as a director.
Angel-May: I have always wondered what it’s like to have written a script and watch it being performed. I think witnessing my own idea being executed infront of the camera is something that has always interested me.
Olivia: I’ve fallen in love with everything about the industry so definitely! I hope in the future I can pursue or try every type of role in the industry at some point, but other than acting, I would love to focus on directing, 1st AD-ing and screenwriting. Producing is hard work, but I love the satisfaction of completing tasks and organising too. I think both filmmaking and acting go hand in hand and help the other immensely.
You have an eclectic range of credits, are there any genres that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?
Ilirian: You’re right. I have been lucky enough to have: played the lead role, Charlie, in a comedy, coming of age feature film, currently in post-production; worked on a horror series; been cast in lots of dramatic short films; been a warrior contestant on a CBBC adventure game show; been an interviewee in several documentaries; featured in commercials and walked the catwalk in House of Ikons during London Fashion Week. I would love to be involved in a Science Fiction or Fantasy series and am honoured to have just found out that I’ve been cast in an ecological sci-fi TV pilot called Moon Fish.
Anais: I would love to do a comedy project or period drama!
Angel-May: I would say that dramas are quite interesting, as it’s something I feel most comfortable doing. For example I find it easy to portray emotion and I think doing a drama would best fit that.
Olivia: So many I would love to try. I really enjoy acting in dramas and thrillers but I think it would be really great to have the opportunity to try more comedies and horrors.
You’ve worked with a great crop of talent, do you have a wish list of who you’d like to work with?
Ilirian: I would love to work with Dwayne Johnson, Jody Whittaker and Matt Lucas.
In fact whilst in isolation I’ve been involved in a project created by Steve Leeds called Isolation The Series; all filmed from home in lockdown and Matt Lucas was in one of the episodes, so technically I could say I’ve worked with him, even though we’ve never met.
I’m so excited to have joined the cast of In Bluebell Wood and can’t wait to work with everyone; we seem like one big film family already.
Anais: If I could work with Judi Dench I think my life would be complete.
Angel-May: After watching stranger things, I grew interest in Millie Bobby Brown. I think she’s an amazing actress and it would be a dream come true to work with someone that talented. I think she’s accomplished so much and she’s only 16, which gives me hope for my future in acting.
Olivia: In terms of more mainstream talent, I’ve always been a huge fan of Tom Hanks and Saoirse Ronan, so it would be a dream come true to work with them. In Indie Film, the wish list is endless, there are so many incredibly talented and hardworking people and I am so fortunate to be able to work with lots of them in ‘In Bluebell Wood.
Who inspires you within the industry?
Ilirian: I am inspired by the passionate, creative, independent filmmakers who have worked for years to produce their feature films; throwing their own money into projects and raising more through crowd funding and other sources to pursue and achieve their dreams, that others said weren’t possible. People like Marc Zammit, who directed and starred in his debut feature film Homeless Ashes, which another cast member of In Bluebell Wood was also involved in (Angel-May Webb); and Simon Cox, who wrote and directed Invasion Planet Earth, both of which I’ve watched since being in lockdown.
I am lucky to have worked with some inspirational female producers and directors, including Jane Sanger from Lumino Films, Anette Martinsen, an award winning actress and filmmaker, originally from Norway and Giulia Gandini, whose latest award winning short film My Time (that I was involved in) was long-listed for the Academy Awards 2020.
I have also worked with some young talented filmmakers: Sam Hartshorn, Olivia Maiden and Mollie Leviars, who are all definitely ones to watch.
Anais: There are so many actors within the industry that inspire me. For example, Judi Dench, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Sandler, to name just a few.
Angel-May: Lucy Fallon, who plays Bethany Platt in coronation street, inspires me a lot. When she did the story line about being groomed, I feel as though she portrayed a very powerful message which opened up a lot of young girls eyes, including mine. Also, Bella Ramsey of Game of Thrones and The Worst Witch inspires me, as she trained at the Television workshop in Nottingham, which is where I attend. I think what she has achieved at such a young age is amazing.
Olivia: Every single person – it takes so much sacrifice, courage and hard work so just watching everyone’s creations is so magical and inspiring. My first screen acting role was in a film by Adam J Morgan, so he’s been a huge inspiration of mine from the start. Greta Gerwig is my favourite director at the moment, her characters always have so much depth, so that definitely inspires me as an actor and screenwriter.
Fandoms are a big part of the industry, who or what are you a fan of?
Ilirian: I am a big fan of Doctor Who and more recently Torchwood. David Tennant and Matt Smith are my favourite Doctors to date and I love John Barrowman’s portrayal of Captain Jack Harkness. I recently enjoyed watching The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End; bringing together characters from Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, in an epic battle against the Daleks; whilst following the tweets on the #SubwaveNetwork event.
My favourite companions have been: Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper; Amy Pond played by Karen Gillan and Clara Oswald portrayed by Jenna Coleman.
In fact, I’m such a fan, I own a small TARDIS and I’m currently constructing a life size model Dalek during lockdown.
Anais: I would say any films that star Judi Dench and Daniel Craig. I think they are amazing.
Angel-May: I would literally die if I ever met Adam Sandler or Jennifer Anniston as they’re my most favourite actors and anything with them in it I love. It would be my dream come true to work with them.
Olivia: I’m not a fan of a particular show, I just enjoy watching and following storylines and the actors journeys within the show!
Is there a book that you are a fan of that hasn’t been adapted to film or TV or Netflix yet that you’d love to be a part of?
Ilirian: I am currently a beta reader for a friend in Canada, Mark Carroll, who is writing his debut novel and I would love to see that adapted to film. Without giving too much away, it’s a historical fantasy novel and the main character, Shaughnessy, is basically written with me in mind.
Anais: Restless Earth by John Dolan, part of the karma’s children trilogy. If you haven’t read it yet, I would very highly recommend it!
Angel-May: When I was younger I quite liked the book “girl online” by Zoella, and always imagined it being made into a film, as it’s a good story line to it. I think filming in that would be my child hood dream come true
Olivia: I love reading, so definitely, so many books I would love to see adapted. Some of my favourite that I would love to be involved in are: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer. Slated, by Teri Terry. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I’ll Give you the Sun, by Jandy Nelson. One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M McManus.
With the popularity of streaming services like Netflix, what do you think the future of Cinema is?
Ilirian: I enjoy the range of films and series that are available on Netflix and Amazon and other streaming services and have binge watched several series during lockdown, including Torchwood and Stranger Things. I love the opportunities that these streaming services also give to independent filmmakers to share their projects and films with wider audiences around the world. But nothing will take away the feeling of watching a huge blockbuster on the big screen and the whole cinema experience!
Anais: I think that although Netflix and other streaming services play a big part in the entertainment world, cinemas will always be around. You can’t beat the experience of watching movies at the cinema.
Angel-May: Honestly it can’t be predicted. I’ve always been a fan of going to the cinema with my friends, and when we’re there we have a good time. However, there are people who’d prefer to have a cosy night in watching a film of their choice. Personally, I hope that cinemas are still there in the future, because as an aspiring actress, I find it exciting knowing that you are being watched “on the big screen”.
Olivia: I think streaming services are a huge part of the industry, especially for Independent film. It’s easy to think that it’s a competition but I believe there will always be a place for both. There are some films that just really come to life on the big screen and others that are just as magical at home. Streaming services are increasingly popular, and fortunately for Indie Filmmakers, hugely accessible to the wider community which is great for promoting shorts and features.