Lifestyle

Familiar faces in Lifetime screening

  • Pointing the way: director Lucinda Spurling talks to Maternal Secrets cast members Owain Johnston, Kelly McGillis and Terlena Murphy in preparation to shoot a scene at the Southside Police Station. Maternal Secrets will get its broadcast debut on the Lifetime network on Saturday at 9pm
  • One take Chardonne: Bermudian actress Chardonne Paynter, centre, acting with Kate Mansi and Sean Stolzen in Lucinda Spurling’s Maternal Secrets, to be broadcast on the Lifetime network on Saturday at 9pm

Tune into Lifetime this weekend and you may see a few familiar faces. Maternal Secrets, a movie made in Bermuda, and featuring several local actors, will debut on the cable channel on Saturday.

The film was directed by Bermudian Lucinda Spurling, who wrote it with Louise Burfitt-Dons.

“It is very exciting because it feels like the film has finally found its home,” she said.

It’s expected that Saturday’s screening of Maternal Secrets will draw as many as 2.7 million viewers from around the world.

The film was made in 2017 and picked up by American film distribution company MarVista in 2018.

“Their role is to sell the film on,” Ms Spurling said. “It was released on Apple TV and Amazon in 2018. Then they commenced international sales. It did very well internationally but we have never had a US television broadcast, until now.”

She thought the film would be great promotion for the island.

Fourways Inn, Harbourfront Restaurant, Coral Beach & Tennis Club, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Jobson’s Cove and the Fairmont Southampton are featured as backdrops.

“Bermuda is a beautiful location and offers a lot of production value but is very expensive to pull off,” Ms Spurling said.

Maternal Secrets follows Aubrey, a pregnant woman who visits Bermuda with her boyfriend Jackson, a United States senator.

When Jackson disappears without a trace Aubrey doesn’t know who to trust and is forced to fight to find him.

Golden Globe nominee Kelly McGillis and Emmy Award winner Kate Mansi, play leading roles.

Ms Spurling said that the largely local cast helped save on production costs as accommodation, travel and food expenses were all relatively low.

Owain Johnston, Chardonne Paynter, Terlena Murphy, Paige Hallett and LeVar Hollis were among the Bermudian actors cast.

The film marked a first for Ms Paynter, who has worked in New York as an actor for some time. “The fact that I booked my first speaking role in my home country was really special,” said Ms Paynter, who played a waitress. “I had about four lines.

“Lucinda came up to me and told me she really wants to get my part in. She wanted to give me my screen time, so I had to get it right on the first take.”

As a result, the crew praised her by calling her “One Take Chardonne”.

Ms Paynter, who has had background roles on the Netflix series Luke Cage and the television show Knife Fight, is hoping Maternal Secrets’ Lifetime screening will lead to bigger jobs.

Terlena Murphy, who played a police officer in the film, said acting was a childhood dream of hers.

“It was surreal being in the film,” she said. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date. My first day I felt like a ‘real’ actor.

“I remember standing and having someone touching me up with make-up, while I was being fitted for my costume.”

Ms Murphy added: “Everyone was super positive and professional. I thought the production team was great.”

Maternal Secrets involves a car crash, but even the stunt driver for that scene was found locally.

Jevaughn Simons, a security guard and customs officer, learnt defensive driving as part of an intensive six-week course in South Africa.

“The movie was the first time I’d ever done stunt driving,” he said. “I practised a bit ahead of time at the Southside racetrack in St David’s.”

He was thrilled and a little nervous when it came time to film, worried he would flip out the car.

“The first time it didn’t spin all the way,” he said. “I thought the back wheels would hit the curb. It was very fun, and something I really didn’t expect to do.”

He is telling everyone he knows to watch Saturday’s screening.

Ms Spurling thought the timing — during a pandemic with many people around the world subject to curfews — was perfect.

“There are also no sports, so hopefully the women will rule the remote,” she joked. “Hopefully, we will have good viewership.”

Her ultimate goal is to see Maternal Secrets picked up by Netflix.

“A lot of MarVista movies will end up on Netflix eventually,” she said. “That is something we are hoping for in the future.”

Watch Maternal Secrets on Lifetime on Saturday at 9pm