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.
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/
What have I been up to?
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.
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 […]
Hello lovely peeps! Here’s the latest installment of behind the scenes footage with story-boarding and experiments in shadow puppetry techniques from Collette Knowles and Tim Austin of Rough Magic Theatre: We intend to film the series in our house and we happen to have an underground store room with no windows which we use for […]
Despite my initial suspicion, given the lack of puppets, the new reboot of Thunderbirds for ITV (Thunderbirds Are Go) has a lot of merit and is great fun to watch.
I tend to find in general that films and television that use CGI rather than puppetry are just not as effective. You can always tell when something is CGI rather than animated or using live puppetry and it does tend to feel a bit cheap, fake and disappointing. There are obviously exceptions. The work of Pixar for example does not attempt to make CGI look naturalistic but instead uses caricatured visuals which are much more effective.
Puppets have a character and expression all of their own and unlike CGI where every action is programmed a puppeteer can be surprised by the things their puppet does. A puppeteer does not impose a set of actions and movements upon the puppet, rather the…
On the 30th of May, High Bentham will see the world première of 3 new short stories by celebrated local actor and writer Tim Austin. Told to visitors in venues around the town as part of this year’s “Carnival Bentham”, the event marks a departure into straight storytelling that Tim has been planning for a long time.
“I’ve been writing for stage, page and audio for a while now,” explains Tim. “And much of my work has been short stories. I’ve already performed self-penned shadow theatre shows and even a monologue or two on a West End stage but this will be the first time I’ve written and performed a story without props or puppets – the purest kind of storytelling.”
Tim will be telling stories about life and fantastical events on the River Wenning, which runs beside and through High Bentham. The hubris of kings, magical creatures, an adventure in the undergrowth and the great Wenning Oak (a local landmark) will all feature.
The River itself provides the inspiration for this year’s Carnival Bentham; an event that’s now in it’s 4th year. Along with Tim’s storytelling trail, the carnival will include a vibrant mix of street entertainment, a street procession, live music and fun competitions for all.
“I’ve been involved in the Carnival every year since it started,” continues Tim. “It’s a great event! This is the first time I’ve been presenting my own work there and I’m really looking forward to it.”
As well as a busy Actor, Tim is a prolific writer, having penned many theatre plays and shadow shows for long-time collaborators Rough Magic Theatre. He is also a published short-story writer, with his “Christmas Tails” collection riding high in the Amazon book charts every December and another collection on the way later this year.
Tim will be performing on streets and inside shops around the town. Carnival Bentham takes place on Saturday the 30th of May. For more details on the event, please visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CARnivalBentham
(From a press release submitted to local newspapers)
As 2014 chugs merrily on, I’m encouraged by the opportunities that are springing up – some on the acting side, some on the writing and some on the Dramaturgy.
I’ve recently started working with a company in Lancaster on some medical roleplay for the local hospital. It’s a fantastic way to keep your “hand in” between stage and screen roles and the people involved are marvelous. It’s also nice to see employers who are still pro-active in employing local actors – it’s a frequent complaint that I hear in my position at my local Equity branch: why do many Northern theatres and TV producers mainly audition for performers in London? Why does this still happen when there are so many talented performers right next door? Are the actors in London better? In most cases, the answer is simply “No”. Yet it happens.
Sorry, bit of a rant there.
Writing plans are a touch hush-hush but things may pan out in very interesting ways as the year goes on. Keep ’em peeled!
What I can say is that I’ve a radio drama script in contention at the Beeb – it’s a play that I wrote from my previous experience as an ambulance call taker and dispatcher. Feedback has been positive so far but you can never tell; the commissioning structure at the BBC isn’t the most straight-forward process in the world.
I was down in London t’other day (as a Dramaturg) to meet with Puppeteers and producers about the process of writing for puppets. It was a fantastic event that threw up a bunch of interesting questions. I’ve written for puppets quite a bit and it’s great to be able to share some of my experience. If you’ve a puppetry play that you could do with a little feedback on, even if you’ve not started scripting it yet, do drop me a line – email@example.com.
Back to the acting: last year was a slow year, with many other concerns (a lot of them to do with feeding myself each month) distracting me from pushing hard on the acting side of things. I’m determined that this will change in 2014 and, to help myself capitalise on my experience and ability, I’m drawing up a plan.
If I could give one piece of advice to new-comers to the acting biz it’d be to plan. What are the types of shows that you’d like to do (be specific!)? Who makes them? When will they be most open to hearing from you and what’s the best way of getting in touch? How can you be seen by them in performance? If you’ve nothing coming up, is there a way of making some work of your own in their area?
All these questions go into a year planner on my wall. A career is a career, after all: Acting is not a hobby.
So I’ll end on a question – just pop your answers in a comment, below. How do you plan out your acting career and what kind of actor do you want to be?
Hello all. Yes I know that it’s been a while but I’ve been awaiting the contractual ink to dry before announcing some very exciting news!
In June, I’ll be starring in a brand new stage adaptation of the multi-million-selling children’s book “Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathmann.
Premièring in the last week of June at East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley and City Park in Bradford, West Yorkshire, “Officer Buckle and Gloria” is a new commission produced by my long-term collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre.
It’s the story of an American cop who travels between schools to give dull and largely-ignored safety talks. Things change when his bosses give him a Police dog called Gloria to accompany him,… a dog with a surprising talent for show-biz!
Gloria will be a full, Alsatian-sized dog puppet and is currently under construction in the Rough Magic workshop. Boy is she cute!
I’ll be back with more details very soon, along with exciting news of other projects that are still on the QT.
Don’t be a stranger!
Tim Austin is an actor, writer and dramaturg based in North Yorkshire, UK. Take a look around the site to find out more.
I shall be performing in the DT3 space at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster on Friday the 16th of November, as part of this year’s Theatre Uncut. I’ll be performing the monologue “Dead Point”, a great little piece that tackles the mental impact of our crashing economy. Please come along to show your support.
I have further showings of Alice in Wonderland with Rough Magic Theatre coming up soon too.
This November, I’ll be showing my support for the fight against prostate and testicular cancers by sporting a ‘tache for Movember! Follow my progress on my Mo Space page and please donate whatever you can. You can find my Mo Space here: http://mobro.co/timaustin