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Film North September 27, 2011
Posted by
Kathryn Griffiths
Film North Interview with Jim Calarco (director) and Claire Kingsley Calarco (actress) of ‘The House’
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Jim Calarco (director) and Claire Kingsley Calarco (actress) of 'The House'

K: Would you describe 'The House' as a personal film?

J: For me it was, I wrote it originally as a short story several years ago and when Claire and I were talking one day she suggested that it might make a good little film so we did. We transferred it over to film, it's kind of a personal story about people getting old together. And dying's a comedy!

K: Now you decided to play the roles yourselves, how did it work acting on screen while trying to direct what's going on behind the camera at the same time?

C: Claire we've been doing a number of things for the past 40 years together: we did a lot of theatre together and a lot of two-handers at a dinner theatre for about four years. I think we're just used to working together: Jim directed me and I didn't listen...that type of thing, we go on after being married for 42 years, and I think it worked well for the most part.

J: One of the comments I got was that the couple in the film are very lovey dovey, and some people said Claire is a very good actress because it looked like she's really lovey dovey - in real life she's really mean to me, it's really awful. In real life we're very comfortable together and there's a rhythm that develops and we have a pretty good rhythm together, we don't fight much.

K: How have you found the audiences have been responding?

J: It's been amazing, we've done very well with it: we won in Mexico, we won a Silver Palm award, we were in the Milan film festival. And we got picked up in Cinefest in Sudbury the same time we're playing here. They asked if we were attending and we said no I'm going to Huntsville because I like this festival: its small its intimate and I really like the response I got from the people. It wasn't a hard choice to make at all.

K: What got you to choose film as your artform?

J: I was a drama teacher for 32 years and I always liked film. I did a small part in a Christopher Reeves movie in 1984 was it?

C: Yep

J: First time on set I fell in love with film and I told Claire that when I retire that's what I want to do full time and that's what we did. I retired in 2000, we had done short films and films together and in 2000 we moved to Toronto and jumped into it with both feet and we've been very busy! We've probabally done 8 films in the past 3 years. It's crazy - I tell people in Toronto we're doing that and they can't believe we're getting that many roles. What I don't tell them is that we're really old and there aren't many old actors left.

C: We have our own background company and now our own casting company - Casting North/Northstar Talent, and so we read the roles that are needed and then we choose some people and they come and do an audition for it. So the roles we really like we only get ourselves to audition! I'm just joking!

J: If only we could! But actually if there's a role we really like I generally talk to the casting agent and ask would you mind if we auditioned for this role too and say 'no not at all.' As a casting associate I want to find the best people for the role when they're casting a film - if I don't bring in the best people I don't get any work so I always bring in the best actors we have in the north. We're busy.

K: What advice could you give to people starting in the industry?

J: I guess the first thing is to make sure you have a good screenplay and then find a lot of your friends that will work with you. If they're ACTRA you'll have to go through the union. The House is an ACTRA co-op so we only have professional actors in it and basically you work for free but when we make money you get your money back. If they're just starting out, use as many relatives and brothers and sisters as you got. People who work for free are great on films! And try to hook up with somebody who knows a little about it, somebody who's an experienced cinematographer or maybe get a director to mentor you or that kind of thing, it really helps.

K: And what's next for your both?

J: We just finished shooting a 1930s drama, short film, 22 minutes called "One Wish," and it's the story of a man who abandons his family in 1905 and shows up on their doorstep 30 years later expecting to pick up where he left off.

For more information on the house please email Jim at, the film can be seen on YouTube under the Milan International Film Festival.

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