Filmmaker, writer, actor, and producer Ruth Lawrence is set to begin filming her short, Two Square Feet, in January. And she’s bringing in Jeanne Beker – yes, that Jeanne Beker – to play the lead.
Lawrence has been working on Two Square Feet for about three years, and it paid off – literally. The script won her this year’s RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award. The film is about two strangers, Pearl and Lucy, who wind up being roommates after Pearl leaves her drab, unsatisfying life. Beker will play the role of Pearl.
We caught up with Ruth Lawrence to ask her all about it.
Okay, so how did you land Jeanne Beker for this role?
Well, I’ve known her for about four years. We spent a bit of time together this summer in Toronto and she was telling me about these acting workshops she was doing.
So between me being in Toronto and talking to her there and me writing this film and finding out that I got the Michelle Jackson Award, when we both ended up in Woody Point together, I knew that I would really like to work with her. And Because I knew she had been doing some acting on the stage, I thought maybe she was looking to diversify.
So, I asked her! And she said yes right away. I said that I would not take yes for an answer until she read the script because, to me, it’s very important that you have people who love the project, so I sent it to her and I didn’t hear back from her for almost two weeks. So I wrote her back and said, ‘Please don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t like it, it’s not for everybody,’ and she wrote back two days later and said, ‘Oh, sorry, I’ve been somewhere exotic and I just got it and I love it and yes!’
She used to live here, right?
Yes! She actually started out as a mime in Paris – I think it’s Paris, anyway – and then moved to St John’s with her husband at the time, and she ended up working in radio here!
Why did you want her, specifically, to play this role? What was it about this role?
Jeanne’s going to be playing Pearl, who has just left her husband after raising her family. She’s going out on her own and she has a lot of fear about doing that. But I had recently read Jeanne’s memoir, Finding Myself In Fashion, about being a fashion journalist. At Woody Point this summer, she joked that her mom says she often reveals too much, and her book is a very revealing look at her personal life. She talked about how she developed as a person in the fashion world, and there’s a very touching story about how her second marriage broke up – she didn’t see it coming, that marriage ended very suddenly.
For me, it was interesting to see someone who looks so confident and incredible, and was surviving in that world, and it was powerful to read that part in the book and I thought, ‘Okay, well, she’s been here.’ So, knowing her and reading that part in her book, that was what really tipped the balance for me.
Why did you want to write about this?
The germ of the idea was just a moment that a friend of mine had told me that happned to her. I took that moment and exploded it and sort of made it my own. There’s one scene in the film that actually happened to a friend and this film just grew around it. The best thing would be that she doesn’t even recognize herself in it.
I’ve heard so many women say, ‘Oh, I’m not doing that again,’ and that was what I was looking for – some sort of reflection on some of the choices I made.
[laughs] I guess, in a way, I’m kind of preparing myself for middle age!