Hagersville resident gets first role on the big screen

Hagersville resident gets first role on the big screen
HAGERSVILLE—Sandra House of Hagersville was teaching in Romania when she heard auditions were open for an upcoming film. She decided to try out, and a few days later learned she had been chosen. The film premiers next month, and has already been nominated for an award for best picture. House is shown above in Romania. —Submitted photo.

By Kaitlyn Clark

The Haldimand Press

HAGERSVILLE—Sandra House of Hagersville may have found a career in education, but she has always enjoyed acting. So, when the opportunity came up to audition for a movie in Romania while she was teaching there last year, she knew she  couldn’t let it pass by.

“I became aware of the call for auditions and learned that the film needed an English-speaking lady of ‘a certain age.’ I thought, ‘Why not?’” said House. “I have had some previous experience in musicals and plays. I enjoy acting and I thought that this would be an exciting adventure and a great opportunity to learn about the film industry.”

Only a few days later, House was offered the role of Mrs. Nottoway in the film The World to Come, which follows two neighboring couples as they “battle hardship and isolation, witnessed by a splendid yet testing landscape, challenging them both physically and psychologically,” said the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) synopsis.

“I would soon have the opportunity to work with an incredible cast and crew on location in the Carpathian Mountains,” said House, who worked alongside actors such as Casey Affleck, Vanessa Kirby, Katherine Waterston, and Christopher Abbott. “It was very exciting and at times intimidating.”

House describes the film as a period drama, set in the mid-1800s on the American east coast, and explains of her character: “Mrs. Nottoway lives on a farm in a spot where she is able to see people coming and going. One day, a farmer named Dyer (Casey Affleck) comes to visit Mrs. Nottoway to ask her about some people who are missing.”

House has yet to see the completed film and is still unaware of the whole story: “Due to confidentiality agreements, parts of the storyline were unknown to me and that made it challenging to fully understand the characters and events.”

Unfortunately, House will have to wait a little longer to see the completed project. While the premier is set for this September at the Venice Film Festival, House is unable to attend due to COVID-19.

“I am disappointed,” said House on having to miss the premier. “However, I am excited to attend the Toronto International Film Festival and participate in some other premier screenings and celebrations with my family.”

While she may have to wait to view the completed film, she is confident in the work they did since the film was nominated for the Golden Lion Award for Best Picture. It was an experience that took plenty of hard work, and House noted the most difficult part was having to quickly adapt to changes from Director Mona Fastvold during a scene. Despite the challenges, House says it was “such an incredible experience” and that she has many favourite moments.

“I loved watching how different parts of the story were created, and the ways in which everyone needed to work so closely together – the writers, directors, producers, actors, and technical crew. The logistics of making a film are amazing,” explained House. “My favourite part though, was the time I had between the scenes, when the cast had to wait for the technical crews to readjust some details in the set. It gave me a chance to have conversations.… I asked a lot of questions and everyone was very friendly, helpful, and easy to be with.”

While House was in Romania as a teacher at the American International School in Bucharest, and previously was a principal in Zagreb, Croatia, she has also been a teacher and principal for the Grand Erie District School Board.

Having grown up in Hagersville, many locals may have known her family, including parents Paul and Lois Personnic. She now lives in Hagersville with her husband Dave, and their three children are now grown and living in Edmonton and Hamilton with their families.

House lives by the words of Helen Keller, quoting, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

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