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Corner Brook teen went to casting call for ‘Hunting Pignut’ just to see how things worked

Jamie Merrigan poses at the Rotary Arts Centre moments before the Corner Brook premiere of the film “Hunting Pignut.” Merrigan played the role of Sinead Pretty.
Jamie Merrigan poses at the Rotary Arts Centre moments before the Corner Brook premiere of the film “Hunting Pignut.” Merrigan played the role of Sinead Pretty. - Chris Quigley

Whether it’s stepping onto a cross-country ski trail, onstage or before a camera, the nerves Jamie Merrigan feels are all the same.

But they don’t last long, said the Corner Brook teen, one of the stars of “Hunting Pignut,” a film written and directed by Martine Blue.

“Once you start doing it, it’s all fine,” said Merrigan, 17.

While Merrigan has been hitting the ski trails for much of her life, acting is a relatively new pursuit.

She was 13 or 14 when she joined Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s youth program. It was something she had wanted to do for a long time.

“I like anything with a story. I like telling stories,” she said, adding that acting and writing come naturally to her.

It was through Theatre Newfoundland Labrador that she learned of the casting call for “Hunting Pignut.”

She went for an audition, which took place in Corner Brook, in February or March 2015, just to see how it all worked.

Not long after, she got a callback.

Merrigan said she won’t forget that moment — she was in a Pizza Delight parking lot in St. John’s and got a text from her dad saying she had a callback.

“And at the time I had no idea what a callback was,” she said.

After trying to figure out what the text meant, she called her dad, who told her it was for the movie she had auditioned for.

“I had no idea how it worked,” she said. “Now that I know more about acting and stuff, a callback is really good.”

So she went to the callback, this time in St. John’s, and was asked if she wanted the role of Sinead Pretty.

“I was super excited and also kind of surprised. And I said yes.”

Sinead is the best friend to the movie’s lead, Bernice Kilfoy, played by Taylor Hickson.

Bernice runs away from home to look for the man who stole her father’s ashes.

She’s a quirky character, Merrigan said of Sinead, a bit of a worrywart who really cares about Bernice.

She also has obsessive-compulsive disorder, which Merrigan said was interesting to play.

“She had a great imagination. Being Sinead was really fun.”

The movie was filmed over about a three-week period in September-October 2015.

The Western Star spoke with Merrigan on Monday morning, just hours before the film was to have its Corner Brook premiere at the Rotary Arts Centre.

She was feeling a little excited and nervous.

“You don’t know how people are going to react, but I really hope that people are going to like it.”

Homeschooled, Merrigan is working toward finishing high school, and hopes to do more acting in the future.

“If everything goes well, I’ll be in all kinds of stuff.”

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