Category Archives: It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Overcoming the Anxiety of Getting Seen.

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:

Stay Positive.

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.

Tim x

See you next time!

Tim is currently seeking representation and casting opportunities. If you like what you see on his showreel and gallery, he welcomes approaches from casting professionals.

Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

Back In The Game: Why Now Is The Time I’m Returning to Acting and Writing.

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.

Stay frosty!

Tim

https://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502

https://www.mandy.com/uk/actor/timothy-austin-1

https://www.thetalentmanager.com/talent/157692/tim-austin

Tim is currently seeking representation and casting opportunities. If you like what you see on his showreel and gallery, he welcomes approaches from casting professionals.

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

Narration: a New Blog Series

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Ahoy one and all!  Time for a bit of an update and some news!

Since my last update, I’ve been a busy bunny – not all of my business on the acting side, but a significant chunk.  My work within the NHS as a Simulated Patient has been frequent and productive and I’ve been out and about as a storyteller on a few occasions.

My main focus in recent months has been in setting up my own home narration studio.

During an acting gig earlier in the year I got to reading aloud a selection of my One Word One Storys.  I was made aware of, and strongly encouraged to join, ACX – Amazon’s audio narration exchange, where authors and audiobook narrators could come together for projects on the Audible platform.

A few years ago I contacted a few audiobook companies to sound them out about lending my voice to their clients’ works.  Sadly their interest was almost solely in using “established” (read: famous) names.  To be honest, I’d written the notion off as something that would wait until I had risen in stature as a screen performer.

ACX turned out to be something quite different – a place where the only thing that really mattered was the quality of your work.  Speaking to a few colleagues assured me that my work was of a standard that would stand out on ACX and so I set about building myself a voiceover booth.

I could’ve approached a local studio but I felt a need for flexibility.  I wanted a studio space of my own.  And that’s what I created.  In the walk-in closet of my home I set to adding sound-deadening insulation.  I then purchased a quality condensing microphone, stand, pop-shield and digibox (to turn the analogue signal from the microphone into data for my laptop).

I’ll be writing another blog to properly detail my rig, if you’re curious.  I may even include a video.  Suffice it to say, however, that the booth has been a tremendous success, with an extremely low noise floor and very creditable sound deadening.  In layman’s terms, it produces a good, clean, rich sound.

I’m now busy auditioning for audiobooks and recording a few works of my own – including a full reading of Christmas Tails and The Santa Beneath The Ice – both to be completed and available on Audible in time for Christmas.

If you’d like to hear samples of my work as an audiobook narrator, do check out my ACX profile here.   If you’re an author, drop me a line and we can have a chat about working together on your book.

I’ll be writing a series of blogs about my audio work so keep those eyes and ears peeled!

Until next time,

Stay Frosty.

Tim.

P.S.  If you haven’t checked it out already, please take a moment to read my short story blog over at onewordonestory.org.  You won’t regret it  🙂

Storytelling, Upcoming Gigs, Beowulf and “The World’s Most Insane Writing Project”

Didn’t I say something about making this blog a daily thing?  Yeaaaaaah,…..

ANYWAY

A lot is happening at the moment so there’s a lot to say.

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First up, I’ve been contracted to be the official Bentham Storyteller at the “Bentham Carnival” for the second year in a row!  I had tremendous fun at the last Carnival (read about it here) and am expecting to enjoy this year’s just as much!

The title for the storytelling is “Rain or Shine – Umbrella Tales”.  I’ll be performing 4 stories through the day.  Just like last year, I’ll be writing them in advance.  Come along to High Bentham on Saturday the 4th of June and enjoy!

There’s a good chance that I’ll be returning to my role as DCI Clueless in “Clueless and Wuffles: The Case of the Missing Jewels” a little later in the year.  Situation still developing on that.  News soon.  If you recall, that’s the show that I took to Glastonbury Festival in 2014 with Rough Magic Theatre. It’s about time the ol’ trenchcoat was dusted off again!

ANOTHER thing I can’t talk about is Beowulf – a show that’s currently undergoing very early funding talks.  I hope to be able to tell you a bit more about this once things are firmed up.  Again; more soon.

So what CAN I tell you about?  Well, I can tell you all about One Word One Story: a short story marathon of quite ridiculous insanity.

I recently challenged myself to write a brand new 100 word short story every single day for an entire year.  Yes, really.  And I’m doing it – you can go and read them right now over at https://onewordonestoryblog.wordpress.com/.   It’s already got more than 700 views and it’s less than a month old.  It has also garnered a few celebrity fans, including Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules.

There will be more to say and talk about next time!

Until then, stay frosty!

Tim.

Books, Acting and Things: ActorTim is BACK, baby!

Where does the time go?

But let’s not start with all that!  I have been having a very busy year as a performer and as a novelist.  Let me tell you all about it,…

As you’ll have seen in my last post – oh, so long ago – I spent part of my Summer working as a storyteller in my home of Bentham.  I have also been hard at work as a medical roleplayer in Lancaster and Manchester.  It’s one of those jobs that is an enjoyable and reliable “filler” between more visible acting work.

I continued my association with Rough Magic Theatre last year, returning to perform as Lewis Carol and The Mad Hatter in a short summer tour of their “Alice In Wonderland” show at a number of festivals.  I also returned to the role of Fred Fettler in “Fred Fettler’s Pony 3000”, a street theatre show that went down a storm at Lancaster Encounter, a summertime festival in Preston.

 

Beyond acting, I have been busy writing.  My “Christmas Tails” collection of short stories has been selling well over the holiday season and I’ve been typing out stories for the sequel collection, due out later this year.

Santa Cover

Just before Christmas I released “The Santa Beneath The Ice”, a short comic/Noir crime thriller set in 1900 New York.  It quickly drew a set of Five Star reviews and sold in good numbers – though the fashion on Kindle these days seems to favour full-length novels.

With that in mind, I have already begun work on my first full-length novel featuring Keegan and Lestrade, characters that I grew very fond of during the writing of “Santa”.  Their first full-length adventure (currently under the provisional title “The Ripper of Red Hook”) will be written over the course of 2016.  I’ve already mapped out the mystery they will face and many of the characters they’ll meet on the way.  Lets see what happens!

I’ll be blogging solidly about my experience writing this first full-length work over the next year.  If you’re curious about how it feels to write a novel and what challenges a writer faces, subscribe to this blog and keep updated on my progress.

Which reminds me: this blog is going weekly.  After an eon in suspended animation, I’m ensuring that I update it every Wednesday from now on.  I hope that you can join me.

Until Wednesday, though,…

Stay Frosty.

Tim xx

4 Days To Go – Clueless and Wuffles are Heading to Glastonbury (and other BIG news)!

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Rehearsals for Clueless and Wuffles: the Case of the Missing Jewels are now complete, with a dress and tech rehearsal dusted over the weekend.  Now it’s just a waiting game before we head down to Worthy Farm for the festival itself.

Wuffles Poster

In case you didn’t know (or you’ve lost the ability to scroll down to the post underneath this one), I’ll be performing as DCI Clueless – a hapless and unbelievably vain detective who, along with his faithful Sergeant, DS Wuffles, must hunt down the stolen Crown Jewels.  The show will be performed at the Panic Circus Big Top on the Kidz Field from Thursday the 26th until the close of the festival.

If you’re at Glastonbury this year, keep an eye on the hashtag #wuffles for show times, pictures and all kinds of random micro-blogging goodness.  I look forward to seeing you there!

I’ll be writing up my experiences and thoughts on the festival for Frost Magazine upon my return.  Keep a weather eye out for that.

In other news, I’ve recently been cast in “Justice”, a site-specific theatrical event being held at Lancaster Castle over the Summer this year.  Work has already begun on the show, with showings taking place on weekends through July and all week through August.  More on that in my next blog post.

Plans are progressing on a funding application for a big show in March 2015.  The project, which I’ll be keeping under wraps until things are a little more firmed up, has a producer, director and musical director attached, with work due to begin on the script and music in August/September.   We’ve finalised an initial budget and our first funding bid goes in this week, with a further GFA bid emerging in July.  I’ll update you on details for the show once we know that it’s definitely happening (fingers crossed!)

And, to round things off, I’m continuing my work as a medical role-player and enjoying it immensely.  It’s a fantastic team of actors to work with and a marvellous team in charge.  I’ll be jetting back up from Somerset for another performance the day after Glastonbury (I know!)

Until next time, stay frosty!

Down on the (Worthy) Farm: Glastonbury Festival 2014

Today I can officially announce that I’ll be starring in a brand new stage show at Glastonbury Festival in June 2014.

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The new show, Clueless and Wuffles: the Case of the Missing Jewels, is a family comedy farce.  Packed with slapstick, song and puppetry, the show has been put together for Professor Panic’s Big Top and will be performed on the Kidz Field.

I’ll be starring as DCI Clueless, a vain detective who’s as inept as he is self-absorbed.  His faithful canine partner, DS Wuffles, supports him by,…. well, by solving all of his cases for him!  But have they met their match when the Crown Jewels are snatched from the Tower?

It’s a fantastic show and a brilliant showcase, and I’m thrilled to be taking on yet another leading role for my long-time collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre.

If you’re at the festival, do make the trip across and enjoy the show!

Glastonbury 2014 takes place between the 25th – 29th of June at Worthy Farm near Pilton in Somerset.  For full details of this year’s festival, click here.

Winning Awards in a Fascinating Year.

At the start of 2013, I acted in a short film called “Life Like Mine”.  As the year draws to a close, then, it’s a great time to announce that the film has now garnered not 1 but 3 awards at the Angel Film Awards at the Monaco Film Festival.

The awards, now in their 11th year, are among the most prestigious on the short-film circuit.  These three awards are a testament to the hard work and talent of the crew and I’m delighted to share in their success.

What a lovely way to end the year.

And what an interesting year it’s been.  I’ve continued my successful partnership with Yorkshire-based Rough Magic Theatre, performing a number of street shows with the company and starring in their brand new theatre piece “Officer Buckle and Gloria”.

I’ve also spent a good chunk of the year training my screen performance with the help of Beverley Keogh in Manchester, as well as auditioning for a number of shows, among which was a brand new BBC sitcom.

The feature film that I shot last year, The Rise, has also had its cinema release and is now out on DVD.

My work with the local Equity branch has also been rewarding, with recent discussions and efforts delivering real benefits for performers in the region.

All in all, a fascinating time.  What will 2014 bring?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, all!

Tim

New Headshots And a Robin Hood Cameo

Hello All (and, indeed, Sundry)!

You may have noticed a new look to my website and blog, as well as my Spotlight page.  A week back, I jetted across to the grand old Roman city of York for a headshot photoshoot.  An hour or two later, in the company of the charming (and frighteningly good) Tom Jackson,… ta daaa!

Do take a look at my gallery page or hop over to my Spotlight page for a good look at the results.

A couple of weeks back, a friend and I popped across to Williamson Park in Lancaster to watch The Dukes’ “Robin Hood”.  We were particularly keen to support the play as  a year back it looked like the Park Plays would be gone for good.  But thanks, in part, to the hard work put in by my local Equity group (of which I’m a committee member), The Dukes decided to push ahead with future Williamson Park events.

And boy was it worth it.  It was a great little play – all dystopian, Orwellian steampunk (which I love).  I was glad to see that the Dukes had gone non-traditional with the story – it’s such a well known story that it borders on cliché.  Taking a different tack made it surprising and engaging in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

And there was plenty of audience interaction – which is where my wife and I come in.  We’re old thesps, she and I, so when Robin came into the audience looking for food (a plot point) our hands, naturally, shot up.  Donating a family-sized bag of Lancashire Crisps (always keen to feed our fellow actors in time of need!), we were, for a minute, the centre of attention.

A few lines to Marion on Robin’s behalf (and some wonderful ad-libbing from my wife) later, and the play continued on its way.

After auditioning for The Dukes’ “Merlin” a couple of years ago, I was glad to finally get my face in a Park Show,… even if it was just for the briefest moment.

Another One Bites the Dust,…

After a frantic few weeks of rehearsal and revision, “Officer Buckle and Gloria” finally went before audiences in West Yorkshire at the end of June.

Amidst sweltering heat and occasional torrential rain, I donned a fat suit and baked in the name of my art.  Jumping around, running about and performing pratfalls is a bit of a challenge when you’re lumbered with a belly the size of Texas – subtle it was not (fun it was)!

But Gloria is now resting comfortably in her basket and I’m thin and trim once more, eager to push forward into my next project.

Which will be?  Ah, well that’s the thing: you never can tell.

I’m due to return as Fred Fettler in Rough Magic Theatre’s street show “Fred Fettler’s Pony 3000: the Transport of the Future” in late August and early September.

I can also announce that I’ve been commissioned to write a brand new stage play for a theatre company in York – all a bit hush-hush but I’ll be back with more news on this soon.  I’m going to be writing and sketching out the script later in the year, with “mood” scrap books and character breakdowns already under way.

On the performing front, however, I’m searching out new roles and new challenges going forward.  I’ve found the screen acting course I’ve been doing in Manchester recently (see posts below) to be invaluable in this regard.  It’s been extremely helpful in fine-tuning my screen presence and I look forward to taking these new skills into auditions through the rest of the year.  I’ll be doing a whole blog on screen acting soon so keep a weather eye out!

So meetings, contacts and auditions will be filling up my calender in the months ahead.  Stay tuned!

Tim Austin is an actor, writer and Dramaturg based in both London and North Yorkshire, UK.  Take a look around the site to find out more.