IRTTwo years ago I was blogging about the International Day of the Older Person. At that time, a few of us residents had agreed to be filmed about our thoughts on retirement and getting older.
IRT (Illawarra Retirement Trust) is the operator of the over-55s village where I live, and they are very interested in creating age-friendly communities. As part of “supporting initiatives to change people’s perceptions of older people and of ageing” they came up with the idea to have a monthly, thirty minute, internet-based, news programme.
I had already featured twice in their quarterly glossy magazine. Once, on the changing face of retirement – where they featured my decision to go to university at fifty-five – and the other time, on the release of I Belong to No One. I’m not saying I have become their “go-to gal” for these kinds of things, but, well, one thing led to another, and a few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in the gig as the newsreader for this latest venture.
Well, there’s not much I won’t try at least once – and hey! – sitting in front of a camera has to be less daunting than a tandem skydive, wouldn’t you think? (note to self, must use that skydive voucher before it expires). Besides, I was being asked to talk. Great! My nickname wasn’t motor-mouth for nothing!
I wasn’t a shoe-in for the role. IRT advertised a casting, and a number of men and women were short-listed. They settled on Pete Gatwood for the host, and then came – a screen test! Hilarious. I walked into the studio, was introduced to Pete, sat on a couch, had a few key phrases on a teleprompter pointed out, and then the idea was that Pete and I were to ad-lib from there! I had never seen a teleprompter before, and the subject of our banter was soccer (football). Most people know I am less than interested in sport. Pete threw me a line about my opinion of the game. For a moment I was tempted to throw back, “is that the one with the round or the pointy ball?“. I was also tempted to go off on a tangent, debating rugby league versus Australia rules football – and my preference for the latter because the guys wear very short shorts and sleeveless vests. In fact, my mind was so full of word pictures that I had to think fast to come back with a quip. That wasn’t too easy, I was still snuffly and thick-headed with a cold.
Well, we must have done all right together, as a few days later I heard the role was mine. I received a script shortly before filming, which included some complicated word structures (e.g. “intergenerational socialisation tool” ????? Ya what? Come again?) but I didn’t want to memorise the text in case it sounded too rehearsed. Learning how to read a teleprompter was a funny experience, a bit like the story of the Three Bears. The first run was too fast, the second run was too slow – but that run was just right. Except that it took more than three takes to get it right, and paragraph spaces had to be inserted to give me a chance to take a breath. At one stage I said, “I can’t even listen that fast – let alone speak!” Also, I am known for talking with my hands, and I was terrified I would let them flutter all over the place, so I anchored them firmly and didn’t move.
The programme was launched on – you guessed it – the 1st October, International Day of the Older Person. I have added a link below. You will note I have had a huge change of hairstyle in the subsequent two years since my first cameo appearance. You may also note where I take a deep breath, ready for the following sentences. And when you watch the segment on the 75 year old who still plays soccer every Saturday morning, you will realise why soccer was top of mind at the screen test.
Filming for the next episode is in a few day’s time. The producer went for “voice of authority” for the newsreader first time, plus I was trying to be serious for a change. I think it can be improved if I loosen up a little. In the voice-over I was smiling, and you can hear the difference in the voice. See what you think . . . (and yes, that complicated phrase was dropped!)
Garrulous Gwendoline 🙂 October 2015