Claire Conroy: Finding the art in acting

Claire Conroy studied acting at the London School of Dramatic Art in Kensington after being nominated for an Equity Bursary. She graduated with honours and has acted in short films. Wilby Park was her first feature film experience. Claire’s challenge was doubled because she played two different characters, Monica and Amelia Hamlyn in the film.

CR: How did you manage to divide the roles?
Claire: It’s hugely challenging to divide them both. They both have great traits. Monica is a fighter with all the things that are thrown at her. For me it’s about how her character responds to her crazy journey into madness. How does anybody respond? At the start she lives this nice normal lifestyle where nothing’s a problem. She has these two sides to her personality. Monica is a people pleaser, warm, she takes the easy route. Her real ambition is to be a good person. There are so many things standing in her way, she wants a peaceful option to her own detriment. She is slightly naive and has a martyr quality about her. When researching Monica I looked at Amy Adams from the film Enchanted.

Amelia is feisty, playful, dirty dealing and melancholy. She gets away with a lot of things in contrast to Monica. Amelia is fun to play. I based her on Angelina Jolie character Lisa Rowe from the film Girl Interrupted.
I tried more to differentiate between the body movements as well as voice and expression. I use the Irish accent for Amelia compared to neutral RP (Received Pronunciation British) Standard for Monica.

CR: Was it difficult moving from a short film to a full length feature?
CC: Because this was my first feature film I wasn’t sure how I’d adapt. I really enjoyed making this film. Natural acting is very very powerful. What I want to keep on learning is how less is more. I’m used to full characters that have a lot of energy with facial expressions. I’d fully love to pursue the perfection of doing nothing but showing everything. I am naturally very energetic and I want to learn how to move as little as possible but still project that energy. It’s an art in itself.

CR: Which do you prefer theatre or film?
CC: It depends on the project, if it’s good, substantial and interesting with highs and lows and intriguing psychologically then that’s good. Of course it also depends on the context and I really enjoyed the process of making this film. I’ve been learning about my strengths in filming and discovering more about me as an actress.

CR: What would be your dream role?
CC: One of my favourite roles was in the showcase at Soho Theatre. The character was Di from the play Inside Out written by Ruth Little & Emily McLaughlin. She’s similar to Amelia, someone who is robust and fun with spunk.

My dream role would be a substantial role in a period film or drama. An Irish history set around famine time or a television series like The Tudors. I like parts that are set in other eras that tell strong stories. I love stylised and moral characters that are strong visually and play strong personalities.


Ian Fielding: How does Wilby Park relate to filmmaking today?


Ian Fielding: Now is an exciting time for filmmakers in general, the advent of sophisticated and realistically priced digital technology means that the field is open for anybody with a story and a scintilla of determination to go ahead and make that flick.

As broadband sizes increase film distribution faces its biggest commercial hurdle since its inception. It also means that if you make a film of any length you can put it out there and it will find an audience whether it’s forty people or forty thousand.

Later this year sees the tentative UK commercial launch of the red camera, the camera they used to shoot the recent Che biopic with. That’s world class imagery becoming more and more accessible to the guy or girl on the street.

When that thing comes out, the old idea of industrial film making being the sole providence of big studios will be blown out of the water forever. In a couple of years you could envision a small troupe of passionate teenagers on minimum wage drubbing up the cash between them to make a story completely viable for the commercial market. With lowering costs you get greater freedom, more room for creativity, I’m not saying that’s all there is to it, you can buy the best guitar in town but you still gotta know what to do with it.

If you’re lucking enough to live in a developed country from Andover or Andalusia making a film could become as common as starting a garage band with your mates. As Marx might say, the means of production are now in the hands of the workers – the revolution starts now.