For filmmaker Pamala Hall, this is her moment
A Harlem woman who tries to bring down mobster Lucky Luciano, the chilling story of Harry Thaw, who murdered architect Sanford White, and the secret life of Emily Dickinson. Those are the plots of just three films a Weston filmmaker is bringing to life.
Pamala Hall has a lot of irons in the fire. As the head of LionHawk productions, she is working on numerous major film projects all at once — across the board in subject and theme — from factual to science fiction.
Most of her work, surprisingly, is being done from her Weston home. “I love the woods and the solitude of Weston. Writers do well with solitude,” she said.
Ms. Hall wears a number of hats on her films. On some she is the screenwriter, on some she is the producer, on some she is both.
Her background in theater and television has served her well. The ultimate multitasker, whether its books and lyrics for stage plays and musicals, scripts for film, television and theater, fiction or non-fiction, name it, she’s written it.
She is thrilled to be heading LionHawk Productions where she can work on a wide variety of films at one time. “People tell me this is my year and I’m starting to believe it,” she said.
Originally from Huntington, Pa., Ms. Hall started her career as an actress in Hollywood in the 1960s. She worked on the TV show That’s Life, with her family friend, actor Robert Morse, who’s enjoying an acclaimed career resurgence on the show Mad Men.
While staying at Anita Louise’s estate, she said she felt an unusual energy that convinced her to start writing. “I realized that I would rather convey what was on the screen rather than being in the center of all that,” she said.
Ms. Hall eventually moved to New York, but it was too urban for her so she decided to move to Connecticut to find peace and quiet. She lived briefly in Shippan Point, then made her way to Weston, where she enjoys the woods, squirrels, and other wild animals that seem to have adopted her home.
A warm-spirited woman, in addition to Robert Morse, she has many friends in and out of show business. For 17 years, she has enjoyed correspondence with Dame Judi Dench. “I saw her in Mrs. Brown and sent her a letter, and we’ve been pals ever since,” Ms. Hall said.
She’s also close friends with Jackie Zeman, best known as Bobbie Spencer in the TV show General Hospital.
For years she has given out literary awards with her friend and producer Tod Jonson.
While Ms. Hall said she loves what she does and loves talking about her projects, she acknowledges that filmmaking can be a daunting career path for women.
“It can be a difficult industry for women, especially older women. Most executives are 25 years old these days. But life experience means a lot,” she said.
Uninterested in making films just for the sake of making films, Ms. Hall has a strong social conscience that is reflected in her work. She’s expecially impassioned about the care and protection of children and animals. “When people watch my films, I want them to leave the theater talking about things, stirring their emotions,” she said.
One of Ms. Hall’s upcoming films that is certain to stir emotions is The Promise Cage, a tender film about a controversial topic — assisted suicide. “I think assisted suicide is something we need to discuss. I tried to present all sides of the issue,” she said.
The Promise Cage was directed by Eoin Macken, an actor/director best known for his TV series Merlin. “I was looking for a director and I was contacted by Eoin. He said he wept the entire time he read the script and it touched him profoundly. I was moved. I thought, this is the kind of director I want,” she said.
Some of her other projects are Bringing Down The Luck, the true story of Eunice Carter who tried to take down gangster Lucky Luciano in the 1930s; Harry and Evelyn, a musical she wrote for film and stage about Sanford White’s murderer; Bluebell Cottage, a science fiction trilogy; Shadow Dive, a 3D film about the deep sea, dolphins, sharks, and whales; and Serenade for Eight, the true story of a family who adopted special needs children no one wanted and then suffered a major setback when the mother developed Parkinson’s disease and died.
In a film series, Thorn, her main character is a private investigator who solves crimes with tongue-in-cheek humor. He has just one dirty little secret though — he’s a vampire. “I just love vampires. Christopher Lee is my favorite. Writing Thorn was fun and relaxation for me,” Ms. Hall said.
She is also working on a TV series set in a women’s prison called All Day and A Night, a phrase which means life without parole. “The series was originally called Keepers and was presented to CBS but they said it was too controversial, so it didn’t run. But now two studios and a network are interested in it,” she said.
Ms. Hall is also bringing the lives of several diverse women to life on the screen.
She is adapting Jerome Charyn’s book, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, which focuses on the famous recluse poet’s passionate side. “There’s a lot of surprises about Emily Dickinson that people don’t know. The story’s intriguing,” she said.
She is working with Frank Burmaster on Bridge of Silence, which explores the mysterious death of gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.
In addition, she is working on a project about Ivy Compton Burnett, who is considered one of the most original and strangest British authors. “Ivy was the ‘English Secret,’ a real character. She wrote 19 books but hardly anyone has ever heard of her. But they will soon,” Ms. Hall said.
With so much on her worklist, Ms. Hall said she is fortunate to have a good business partner, agents, and staff. “I have aggressive support,” she said with a laugh.
With a positive can-do outlook, she is someone who sees the glass as half full. “The film business can be challenging, but I never give up on something. There’s always a path,” she said.