Last year was a really challenging year for all of us. And I added to this by deciding to create and direct a new season of Shakespeare Republic, set and filmed entirely in lockdown. It was the most wonderful, crazy, sometimes difficult but absolutely rewarding experience I could have had. The creative family that formed around the new season, made up of existing Republic ensemble joined by a whole new swathe of actors and regular Republic crew, creating a total of 24 episodes, was one of the best things about 2020 for me.
It was an absolute privilege to work with these extraordinary actors, based in Melbourne, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Los Angeles and New York and I am so grateful to all of them for jumping on board and lending their talents to “The Experiment” as I still lovingly call Shakespeare Republic.
This new season has been on the international film festival circuit since November last year and I have been so thrilled and awed by the response it has received to date. The season has been officially selected for 20 International Film Festivals so far, with 32 award nominations and 10 awards and to say I am thrilled with this response would be an understatement.
I love my work as a director, but my first love is acting. So it was a really emotional moment when I found out that I had been nominated for both Best Actress for playing “Macbeth” in the final episode of the season and Best Director for the series overall at the 2021 Unrestricted View Film Festival Awards in their Web Series category, which take place in just under 12 hours’ time in the UK. The season was also nominated for Best Actor (Frank Collison & Mark McMinn) and Best Web Series.
I am so grateful to the UVFF Jury for the love they have shown to the season and for these two award nominations for myself personally. While I don’t do the work for the awards (they are never guaranteed), it always provides such a boost of inspiration and energy when the work is acknowledged in this way by my fellow industry practitioners. The UVFF Awards Jury is made up of agents, actors, directors, producers, screenwriters and broadcaster & streaming platform executives, so to have this acknowledgement from my peers is always something I am so grateful for – especially when the festival is based in one of my creative homes and the place where the engine for this work began to be built, which is the UK. I also attended drama school in Islington, which is also the home for this festival, so it feels akin to coming home – very much a sense of full circle.
Thank you also to the fabulous James Wren, UVFF Festival Director and fellow filmmaker and actor, for the lovely interview he conducted with me for UVFF 2021 via Zoom. It was so great to be able to chat with him about the work in this way. While this pandemic has been a trial for so many of us, it has also brought me great connection and opportunity for creative expression and I am so grateful to have been able to find these silver linings amidst the chaos of the past 12 months.
Tickets are still available for the final day of online screenings and if you buy a Festival Pass, you’ll also get to attend the live, in-person screenings taking place in June & July (this really is the festival that keeps on giving!). Get your tix here: https://uvff.co.uk/uvff-2021
Finally, thank you to all my fellow cast in this new season and congrats for the acknowledgement of your work via the Best Web Series nomination. This series has always been a team effort and I couldn’t do what I do without my Republic village. Thank you also to all our supporters, donors and audiences who always make me feel so lucky to do what I do.
Feeling very blessed and very grateful.
All best wishes, as always, Sal x