A few screengrabs of my most recent short film role to tide you over until editing is complete, the film is out there on the festival circuit and I can slip some footage into my showreel.
A few screengrabs of my most recent short film role to tide you over until editing is complete, the film is out there on the festival circuit and I can slip some footage into my showreel.
I’m delighted to announce that I’m now working with Harry Vella Thompson at Vella-Wozniak, who is representing me for both acting and literary works! I look forward to a long and productive working relationship 🙂
You can visit them at https://vwtalent.com/
Well hasn’t the time flown?
It’s been a busy ol’ few months – let’s see what I’ve been up to, shall we?
Having secured touring work as part of the cast for Jurassic Earth back in January, the next job was to rehearse the show and work with the puppets. Cheeky things they are too! My first show was postponed by the dreaded Covid but I eventually went out to perform on the show last month, which was tremendous fun. More dates to follow!
Short Film at Media City.
I’m just back from filming a lead role on a short film in Salford, including some studio time over in Media City – genuinely one of my favourite places in the world.
It was a great script and a great idea, which I won’t spoil here.
I look forward to seeing the finished film once they’ve graded, edited and scored it. News and clips when I have them 🙂
New Theatre Show for July.
An opportunity to create a new show with my longtime collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre presented itself in February, too.
Beverley Puppet Festival were offering Scratch Space showings and funding for new shows in July and we pitched one that’s been sat on the backburner for a while. We were delighted to be awarded funding and space to develop, and premiere, the show.
Work has begun in earnest on “Seven Songs of Love” – a combination live-action, storytelling, musical shadow show based on traditional folk songs. You can see an example clip below. You can see the scratch performance over the weekend of 15th-17th July and we hope to be touring the full show in 2023.
In February I started working with casting director extrodinaire Sarah Leung, picking her brains on the industry and how best to navigate castings. We also arranged some one-to-one workshops to polish my film performance. It’s essential to know what casting directors are looking for and what they need to see when you put yourself forward.
Of her many invaluable suggestions, one really resonated: tape constantly.
Don’t just wait for a casting to come along – find scripts online and film yourself daily. Keep practicing. Keep improving. Keep working, even if you’re not in front of a casting director. This will keep you sharp for that moment that you do step into that audition.
It also means that you can build a library of performances that you can send to Casting Directors later.
I put this advice into practice immediately and it came in handy when I was asked to audition for the TV show Whitstable Pearl a few weeks later. This was a self-tape audition that I ran a few takes together for. I wanted to give them a few choices to pick from and I enjoyed the process immensely. I was also very happy with the results.
Sadly, the role was eliminated in re-writes so nobody ended up being called back. As a practice exercise it was invaluable, however. It also validated my approach to representing myself while I’m in between agents. Which was nice.
I’ve not even mentioned playing hide and seek with the tremendous Sarah Punshon or discussions on directing a shadow short movie.
There’s plenty more to come!
Until then, stay Frosty!
In 2022 I’ll be Working with Dinosaurs (see what I did there?) as I join the cast for the national stadium and walkabout touring show “Jurassic Earth”.
While my focus into this next year is on Film and TV work, joining Jurassic Earth was too tempting a gig to pass up. I’ve a very long history of performing in family shows and street theatre, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Working an audience, interacting in unpredictable situations, improv and just plain making people laugh: it’s in my DNA.
So I’ll be touring the country throughout the year as part of the ensemble, hosting, educating and compering events and stadium shows with some of the biggest dinosaur puppets in the UK.
So expect to see me guiding, entertaining, acting alongside and (probably) running away from T-Rexes near you very soon!
So it’s a red hot start to my year, with a casting right out of the gate – but there’s so much more to come. My previous acting agent retired before the first COVID lockdown and I’m searching for a new one to partner with me on the journey ahead.
I have also set myself a few goals for the year, the first of which is to step back in front of cameras for two TV gigs in the coming year, minimum. To help me do this I’ve given myself a goal of 5. Always aim high: you won’t always get there but you’ll get further than you would if you didn’t.
I will be working with a Casting Director this weekend to learn more about her work and how I can improve my chances of remaining in the eyeline of the CDs I want to work with.
I’ll also be creating my own work – both with long-term collaborators Rough Magic Theatre and other creatives. I want to display my ability and make my own opportunities: sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring doesn’t cut it in the 21st century. You have to get out there.
I’ll be talking more about my writing work in the upcoming year, too. I have one eye on writing a full novel this year and I hope it’s something I can find time to do. My work in short stories and flash fiction is fairly well established – it’s time to try long form.
So there’s a lot to be doing in the year ahead and plenty of exciting news to come! Say hello and follow the blog to keep up to date.
Until next time: stay frosty!
Adding new skills and,…. Learning Satanic Verses?!
I’ve just completed filming a,… devilish role for a short film. Two wonderful new experiences in this – my first time being filmed specifically in black and white (some lovely lighting work to excentuate my features) and my first time filming against a green screen. I’m amazed that I’ve not filmed against a green screen before now!
It’s a role that I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into for a while, and I look forward to sharing more details very soon, including, perhaps,…. some footage?
In other “new experience” news, I’m deep into riding lessons. Yup: me on horseback!
It’s always a good idea to add to your skill set, as an actor. The more skills you have, the easier it becomes to meet a niche. As casting directories can be filtered by skills, having plenty of them puts you in a better position.
In my case, with my voice – a voice that’s ideal for period drama – having the ability to ride a horse is a no-brainer, and something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS. Now I can.
There’s plenty of other news, and some more career thoughts, coming soon – so click that subscribe button and keep in touch.
Until next time: stay frosty!
Being a working actor can be terrifying. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most fickle and over-subscribed industry on Earth, with hundreds, if not thousands, of actors applying for every single role that you apply for.
To make matters worse, if you don’t have an agent you’re probably only seeing 10% of the roles that are being passed about by those most terrifying, and wonderful, of gate-keeping humans: Casting Directors* (pay attention to the asterisk – it’s coming back later!)
I’m reminded, now that I’m back pounding pavements, just how difficult it is to be seen by the right people to make any progress in this business. The level of anxiety that can produce is very real. But how can we overcome it?
I’ve been reading up on advice given by Casting Directors and one phrase really jumped out at me:
Christ alone knows how difficult that can be when you’ve sent off your 10th pitch of the day and recieve crickets for your reward. The sheer force of silence on the other side of the casting divide is both deafening and deeply disheartening. But I understand what they mean when they say Stay Positive. I get it.
Because if you have the tenacity – if you get out there and be positive about yourself, your ability, your look and your aims, the right casting director will eventually see you at the right time for the right audition. You just need to trust the process.
Here’s the thing about that: *Casting Directors are lovely people – I know a couple of wonderful CDs (hello you!) and I can say this with complete conviction. Casting Directors want to find great actors and put them forward because they love TALENT.
They love finding a great actor as much as an actor loves finding a great role. If you are confident in your ability to deliver a performance that will win the part why should you be afraid to reach out and ask to be seen? I mean, don’t do it constantly – god no! They’re busy and don’t want to be bombarded – but a very occasional hello to remind them you’re active is fine. Encouraged, even.
Belief in your ability is what will hold you together. Not to a concieted or egotistical level (no no no no) but with a confident conviction that, actually, you are good at what you do. That you can demonstrate this. So long as you have this belief, you’ll be able to keep on punching through. Keep on fighting. Keep on reaching out to the people who need to see you.
Sometimes that belief will falter so go out and talk to other actors, directors and producers. Get out there and become part of a supportive network who will keep you fresh, keep your talent sharp and help to remind you that you deserve your part in the mix.
I was very humbled to recieve some beautiful feedback on an audition the other day. I was so nervous heading in for it – I hadn’t gone in for a face to face audition since long before Covid, but I had a monolgue that I knew I could deliver really well (rehearse, people!) and an idea of the character I was casting for that I knew would show thought and consideration.
Indeed, I used the nerves I felt outside that room to enhance my monologue – a character filled with an internal rage and self loathing. I turned that nervous energy inward, just as I’d learned to do over the decades I’ve been at this.
I came out of the audition knowing that a) I’d done my very best and the applause I’d recieved meant I hadn’t fucked it up (phew!) And b) that, actually, I probably wasn’t a perfect physical fit for the role, compared with other actors there.
I was very happy to hear, afterwards, that my instincts were right: the Director and Casting Director loved what I’d done. They loved my audition and my monologue to a point where it made them reconsider the character.
I’d come so very close to the lead role I’d gone for,… but my physical look meant there was another choice who – rightly – got that part instead.
(NB: I never feel bad about loosing a role if the right person gets it. Never. I love film. I love theatre and TV and drama and creating great work: why would I be upset that the film I wanted to be in is now cast perfectly? Makes no sense.)
But what it gave me was reassurance: I’d proven to myself that I was needed in that room. That I was worth their time. That I can deliver a performance that can make Casting Directors, Directors and audiences sit up and pay attention.
And for that I was so grateful.
It gave me my Positivity.
What else do you need? Well I’ll be going into that in some depth over the upcoming weeks – how to plan, who to connect with, what to create yourself (and why) and more. Hit subscribe and keep up to date to learn more about my process and my progress.
See you next time!
I find myself rediscovering the joys of Self-Taping. Well, I say “rediscovering” – it wasn’t as much of a thing before Covid. But I enjoy it.
That seems to make me a bit of an oddity.
Reading through the interweb’s numerous actor messaging boards, I can see that Self-Taping is generally more tolerated than enjoyed. Most actors hate seeing their work back and self-taping forces you to do just that. Over and over again until you’re happy enough with a take that you’ll send it off.
It also take time to set up a shot, learn the lines, record a few takes, watch them back, make some changes, go for a few more takes and watch them back. All of that before you edit them down, produce a take and send it. That’s if you’ve got the right kit to tape at quality in the first place.
That’s a lot of work to just put your face up in front of a director or a CD, without any guarantee that you’ll get anywhere near a face to face audition.
But I enjoy the process. I suppose it comes from a history of directing as well as acting. It also helps that I like to watch my work back because, uncomfortable as it can be if I see something to improve on, I WANT to see where I can improve. I WANT to get better with every performance. So working through a character in front of a camera and being able to watch for the beats and tics is so interesting to me.
Why didn’t that work? Did that come over as stagey? Why? What’s going on behind those eyes? Would thinking about something else bring an interesting subconcious flitter of emotion here?
I find Self-Taping to be invaluable. It also means that you can ALWAYS be at your best for you CD because you get to choose the shot they see, rather than hitting it up once in a studio and hoping you nailed it.
As for the time it takes and the effort needed: this is an industry and acting must be treated as a business.
I am a commodity and my job is a) to be the very, very best product I can be (IE – a brilliant actor) and b) able to demonstate this effectively. I’ll do anything I need to do to hit those two briefs. Self-Taping actually helps out with both, as it keeps me practiced, improving and gives me the ability to display my work.
So embrace Self-Taping! Show it some love. Use it to learn, grow and, most importantly, to show what you can do, however scary it is.
In my last post I mentioned having new headshots taken – and here they are! So many thanks to the brilliant Ania Pankiewicz for doing such a wonderful job and being such a complete pro throughout. You can book her for your own headshots at https://www.aniapank.co.uk/
Apart from applying, and auditioning, for roles that suit me, I’ve been back playing The Mad Hatter for the final performance of Alice in Wonderland for Rough Magic Theatre, which took place just over a week ago. While we think the show could technically continue, it’s time to ring the changes. It’s bitter sweet when you reach the end of a run.
The show itself was wonderful! What an audience! So much noise, so much joy, so much energy! High octane doesn’t touch it.
I haven’t just been auditioning: I’ve been knocking on doors and saying hi to CDs and producers. Creatives appreciate talking to creatives, though you should never become a nuisance – know when to say hi and when not to, folks!
To be honest, returning to the industry after a short family break has been faster and more rewarding than I’d ever expected. I hope to have more news about where you can see me next very soon.
Until then: stay frosty.
You could argue – with some success – that I hadn’t actually left acting in the first place, but it’s true to say that I stopped actively chasing work after the birth of my son in 2017.
Anthony was born very premature and required a lot of time and care in the early months of his life. I needed to be available and I needed to secure a steady, reliable income to be so. As such, I became a permanent member of staff at my local GP surgery (where I’d been temping for many years).
I settled my finances and secured my immediate future but lost my ability to audition.
It needed to be done.
Some work still came my way even without chasing it. I find this a constant, though very welcome, surprise when it happens. A publisher in New York approached me to narrate an audiobook for a NY Times bestselling author (through ACX) in 2018. Working around my surgery hours, I completed the project in early 2019. I’ve also had consistent work from a medical roleplay company that has kept my acting tools sharp throughout, with 2 or 3 one-day gigs a month.
I also gained very strong interest in providing the continuity voiceover for a medical fly-on-the-wall documentary series that was pitched to BBC2. Sadly, the pilot didn’t result in a series comission and Covid meant that the project fell by the wayside.
See what I mean about not actually leaving acting work? It’s probably more accurate to say that it never really left me.
So why am I going back now?
To answer that I have to go back to 2012 when I started a one-person Copywriting and Public Speaking Agency to support my acting and writing ambitions. Having worked as an award-winning copywriter for BT for many years, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to provide income and freedom – and it was immediately successful.
Sadly, in 2015 I suffered a bout of depression. This was compounded by the passing of my mother and grandmother in 2016. My agency work was placed on hold while I got myself back into shape and returned to a lesser degree when I worked at the surgery.
I’d always promised myself that I would move back into performing if the agency started to take up slack from the surgery. In late 2019 this seemed to be happening, with a run of success that closed off the year with a bang.
And 2020,…. we all know what happened.
2021, however, has seen the agency take off once again, with enough work to support myself and my family, and the freedom to choose when I do it. It’s my “side hustle” once more.
You HAVE to have a side hustle as an actor and performer. Unless you’re already independently wealthy, you won’t survive the infrequency of the work you get as an actor until you “make it” – and 99% of us never hit the dizzying heights of “main stars” like David Tennant or Idris Elba, though we must fight to.
My good friend and colleague Catherine Balavage (http://www.frostmagazine.com) once put it best: you have to be an Actorpreneur. Give yourself the income to support yourself and the freedom to chase the work. She wrote a fantastic book on the subject that you can read here.
Which is why, now both of my children are more independent and my side-hustle is secured, now is the time to pound on doors and chase the work once more.
I am intensely proud of my work at the GP surgery and forever grateful for them for providing me the stability I needed when I needed it most. It was with a heavy heart that I handed in my notice in August and left for the final time in September.
So I’m back. Properly back – applying for castings, dialling up old contacts and hitting the streets once more to fight for my place in the great market of creatives. I have already secured a new showing of Alice in Wonderland with my long-term collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre and am waiting to hear on a few other potential opportunities that have drifted my way.
I had my first new headshot photoshoot in many, many years last week with the BRILLIANT Ania Pankiewicz (https://www.aniapank.co.uk/) and will be sharing the results very soon.
And let’s not forget The Secret Keeper, which continues to bubble away as we re-submit funding for the pilot, which will be back in the hands of Arts Council England some time next week.
This is where I’ll be updating you on my progress and sharing my insights as I move forward – it’s very exciting to me and I hope that you’ll find it equally interesting.
Subscribe to the blog, follow me on the ol’ tweets and I’ll see you all again soon.
I have not been posting on the blog regularly for a while because I only have a limited amount of time each week to work on our Rough Magic Theatre projects. We decided the time would be best spent actually making the puppets, as they are very time consuming. Trying to make the puppets and […]Happy New Year…..Happy New “Hero Face” Puppets
The trouble with starting again is that you get very attached to scenes and dialogue that you’ve already put together. Something said by your main character gets a giggle or sounds profound,… is there a way to keep it?
Simply put: No. You can’t be precious or sentimental when writing fiction. You’ve got to be brutal and ruthless or you’ll end up going in circles.
I wrote three chapters of a disaster story many years ago and I could not, for the life of me, figure out why chapter four wasn’t working and why I couldn’t get beyond it. Eventually I realised that I’d made some psychological errors back in Chapter 2 that meant the main character’s headspace was wrong by the time it came to concluding that act. Two chapters had to go. And they did.
Because the beauty of starting again is that sometimes the new stuff that you write is better than you wrote before. You’re working with new ideas and new challenges and that takes you in different and interesting directions.
Sometimes you can recycle a line or two, sometimes not. The trick is to not get attached.
I’ve now worked out a new plot to run through the series. It’s more intimate, more detailed and more interesting than the original. Starting from scratch allowed me to look at the format again and concentrate more on individual motivations. Maybe it’ll make the crafting and shooting process a bit more complex but it’ll also make the finished series better.
And that’s the aim.
The Secret Keeper will be as rich and fully-formed as any HBO or BBC drama. It’s a full-fat sci-fi thriller,….. just animated with shadows. A Film Noir mystery in light and dark.
The pilot version of episode One is in Pre-production, with puppets now being drawn and cut. Audio for this rough-cut (to be used to gather funding for the series) will be recorded in the next two weeks. Filming is likely to start in November.
For more information visit Rough Magic Theatre’s blog puppetlady.wordpress.com. See you soon!