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

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.

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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.

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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.

Life Like Mine Update.

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I should be getting the rushes of the scenes I filmed for “A Life Like Mine” this week.  With these in hand, I’ll be putting together a new showreel very soon – keep a weather eye out!

So how did the filming go?  I had three scenes to shoot and all were completed in the space of a day.  Location shooting took place at the University of York’s frighteningly expensive-looking new Media Campus.  Only completed last year, the whole place looked so new that I was scared to sit anywhere in case I scratched something.

Cue “it wasn’t like this in my day” grumblings.

But it was a great shoot for a fantastic team of film makers.  My scenes were shot with former Coronation Street regular,and two-time rear of the year (No I didn’t look!), Scott Wright.  Charming fella and a good laugh – we now tweet,… it’s the 21st century “Let’s stay in touch!”

It was a comedic set of scenes, which will be nice for my (currently) comedy-lite showreel.  If the raucous laughter of the crew after each take is anything to go by, the producers should have a hit on their hands.

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In other news, I’m now a month into my TV acting course with Beverley Keogh and I’m enjoying it immensely.  I’ve found it incredibly useful in fine-tuning my screen technique and, as an actor who has worked and trained for the stage before now, I feel sure that this will help me to stand out in future screen castings.  I’ll be blogging about my work on the course over the next few weeks.

I’d say this though:  never be afraid to keep training and improving, as an actor.  If you’re a professional, you’ve got to keep working to be the best you can be and not rest on your laurels.  The industry is full to the brim of laurel-resting actors who think that, now they’ve graduated, the work should fall in their laps.

It won’t.  You’ve got to work hard to get anywhere in this industry and I’m putting that work in.

See you next time!

Setting Up and Getting Going!

Hello and a warm welcome to 2013!

It was certainly a hectic end to the year for me, with performances with Rough Magic Theatre taking me right into the tail end of December.  I also performed on stage at The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster in November for the 2012 Theatre Uncut, with a fantastic monologue that went down a storm.

That said, 2012 wasn’t a break out year for yours truly.  I spent much of the year building up my finances and launching a part-time copywriting business to support my acting career.   While this took up a lot of my time, it has now set things up admirably for 2013.

So the push is back on:  further training, more meeting and greeting, more blogs, more networking, more VideoTim clips and more!  I hope to hit the ground running, with more film work and, hopefully, my first TV roles in 2013.

In other news:  I’m now the press secretary for the North Lancashire and Cumbria branch of Equity.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I think it’s important to get stuck in and take control of your career, and one of those ways is to become an active member of your local Equity branch.

Even before its official launch, the North Lancashire branch had successfully lobbied for the return of job-creating theatre projects in Lancashire.  We’re now working hard to ensure that there are more training opportunities in the North West, now that the Actors Centre in the North has closed its doors.  Get in touch with me if you’re interested in getting stuck in with Equity in the North West! You can find more information at http://www.equity.org.uk/.

And finally, I’ll be investigating the possibility of working as a “simulated patient” at a few local hospitals.  A question to other actors:  have you worked as a Simulated Patient and, if so, have you enjoyed the experience?

Stay Frosty!

Tim