There’s this thing about onscreen chemistry. You gotta have it. No matter what else you have going for you – giant budget, A-list stars, whatever. If your cast doesn’t have chemistry, well…I think we’ve all seen at least ten minutes of Gigli.
The Wasting hinges on its relationships. Between Sophie and her parents, certainly, but especially between Sophie, her boyfriend Liam, his brother Kai, and her best friend Grace.
Those four young adults are at the core of the story and for any of it to matter, the audience has to buy into their friendship. So, in a kind of anti-Big-Brother move, I figured the best way to create chemistry was to chuck the actors into a house together for the duration of filming, and let them bond. In retrospect, it could have been a disaster. They might have hated each other, driven mad by one another’s living habits. One tube of badly squeezed toothpaste might have spelled doom for the film.
But, buoyed by the eternal optimism that has guided us thus far, I didn’t even consider that. I went looking for a four-bedroom cottage where Lauren, Sean, Alexz and Brendan could live during the shoot. I didn’t find one. I found a freaking mansion. It's called Malt House. An enormous Queen Anne showpiece on vast well-manicured grounds with outbuildings, a river view and a million bedrooms, at least one of them the size of my entire house. There’s even a music room, a perk that did not go unnoticed by our cast, who all happen to be musicians. Oh, what joy was mine! And theirs!
Lauren arrived first, so she got first choice of the impressive array of rooms. She chose wisely and got her own ensuite. Brendan was next. He took the room that was big enough to run laps in, which I think he did on his days off.
Alexz and Sean did okay too – there’s not a bad room in the joint. But the house was more than just spectacular surroundings – it really did exactly what I’d hoped it would. The four of them hung out every day, going for workouts and dinners, running lines, watching Band of Brothers, bonding. Creating chemistry.
They became the friends I’d hoped they’d become, and it shows up in spades in front of the camera. The onscreen chemistry between Sean and Lauren – as Liam and Sophie – was so powerful it prompted Twilight references from everybody on set.
Sophie and Liam’s innocent love is balanced beautifully by the sexy, fun and more worldly relationship between Grace and Kai, as played by Alexz and Brendan. Those two became such good real-life friends that sometimes I just let the camera run on their banter after the scene ended, and it became an integral part of their characters’ relationship and their dynamic with Sophie and Liam.
Mission accomplished. Bonding complete. Chemistry created. Watch out!
And by the way, did I mention the Malt House is for sale?
I'm the writer-director and more or less the mother of this film.