Tag Archives: Acting

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!

Short Film Casting and Further Training

lifelikemine

In early 2012, I was snapped up for a small part in the Feature Film “Wasteland”.  2013 seems to be getting off to a similar start, as I’m heading back before the cameras again.

“A Life Like Mine” (http://www.lifelikemine.co.uk/) is the story of a life coach whose own “perfect” life is not all it seems.  It’s a blistering drama that is being filmed in York and Scarborough by Martini Shot Productions.

I’ll be on set this weekend, filming scenes with Coronation Street actor Scott Wright.  It’s going to be a fun shoot, and a lovely little part to get my teeth into.  Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for updates!

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act4tv

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ve been accepted onto a screen acting course run by Act4TV, an offshoot of the great Beverley Keogh Casting.

I’ve always been an advocate of continued training – never let your skills get stale!  And, although I’ve worked on film, I trained and have performed mainly as a stage actor.  As anyone who has done both can tell you, they’re two very different beasts.

I’ve always been keen to broaden my understanding of screen performance and update my skills.  Not only does it improve my work, it’ll also help me in future castings.  The better my work, the more work I’ll get – simples.

I look forward to getting started this weekend.

Tim

 

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

Wasteland Trailer

Okay, Okay I know – I’ve been a bit quiet of late. But that’s not because I’ve been idle! Visits to Media City, auditions, discussions of new projects and more performances of Alice in Wonderland for Rough Magic Theatre,.. it’s all go on planet Tim!

Before my next post, however (and trust me, it’s on its way!) I’d like to share this: the first trailer for Wasteland, the British heist movie that I filmed in Leeds earlier in the year. Enjoy!

Commercial Castings: Challenge or Chore?

I’ve just returned from an audition in London.  It was a commercial casting for a well-known home improvements retailer (for arguments sake, let’s call it Q&B) and it required some serious “these tiles don’t really exist but I’m fascinated by them anyway” acting – I wonder if that’s the kind of thing that Stanislavski had in mind when he created the System?

Commercial auditions are funny beasts.  No script, no plan, no “character” beyond a simple word or command.  But does this make them a challenge or a chore?

I certainly prefer castings for theatre or film: I feel that I have more control over the casting and the character that I’m creating.  That said, I still enjoy the challenge of selling my abilities in the time that a commercial casting gives me.  And that’s the biggest frustration of commercial casting: Time.

I once did an advert where I bought a cup of coffee at a café nearby, was called into the casting room and, when I got out, the coffee was still too hot to drink.  It felt like a bit of a cattle market.  Indeed, coming out of my latest casting, the actress I was playing against turned to me and said “you feel like an idiot, don’t you?”  And you do!

Nearly 90% of an advert casting is about look and feel, and an all-day casting might go through hundreds of candidates.  There’s an element of powerlessness about the process and that can be pretty demoralising.

But I still enjoy doing them and I learn from each and every one.  And the money for adverts is great, which helps.  I’m careful about which commercials I go in for – I’m not “wholesome hero guy” after all and I’m going to be wasting my time and my money going for those castings – but if the director wants a funny, geeky guy with a feel of vulnerability,… well, that’s me.

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A lot of people ask me if it’s a hassle to get up and down to London from North Yorkshire.  Simple answer: no, not really.

If I’ve a couple of days’ notice, I travel down by bus and stay with friends for castings.  If I’m given notice the day before I can be in London in a couple of hours by train – it’s more expensive but I’m happy to absorb the extra cost if it results in work.

The benefits of living in North Yorkshire, with its relaxed way of life, great countryside and lower cost of living, more than makes up for any inconvenience.

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I’ll finish with a question: What was your quickest or quirkiest casting experience?  Let me know in the comments below.

Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.

Out and About: Performing for the Queen (of Bentham).

Gracious, doesn’t time fly!?

Well I hope you all had a great bank holiday weekend.  Might I say, though, that while you were drinking Pimms from Union Jack plastic cups, I was hard at work!

No, not that terrible 9-5 stiff collar kind of work – that’s so 2010!  I was, once again, working with the wonderfully inventive puppetry geniuses at Rough Magic Theatre, who brought me on board for two Street Theatre shows to celebrate the Jubilee.

Some theatre types go all sneer-y at the idea of Street Theatre but I’m an equal-opportunity thespian: I don’t discriminate!  My job as an actor is to create characters and take audiences on journeys.  You don’t need a theatre stage to do that.  Plus, street theatre is tremendous fun!

First up was a brand new improv show called “Fred Fettler’s Pony 3000: The Transport of the Future!”, in which I played the eponymous Mr. Fettler – inventor extraordinaire.

It was a great show which attracted fantastic crowds of onlookers and victims volunteers.  It was described by some as “Monty Python meets the Goodies”, which is a pretty good description of the show.  Madness, it was: utter madness – in the best possible British tradition of absurdity.

The show took place over a day on the 2nd of June, as part of the Bentham leg of “My Last CarNival” – an event that highlighted a future without the motorcar, using art installations, music and theatre.

My second street show was an extension of Rough Magic’s “Alice in Wonderland”.  I took thier “Mad Hatter and the March Hare” puppetry rig on a tour around a mass Jubilee picnic.  I was even knighted by the “Queen”!  Images below.

I attended the inaugural meeting of the North Lancashire and Cumbria branch of Equity a couple of weeks back.  It’s a campaigning branch that has already been responsible for successfully lobbying the return of The Dukes Theatre’s Play in the Park show – before the branch was even official!

It’s wonderful to get involved with Equity.  Not only does it give you a feeling of community within the industry, but it also allows actors to take more control of their careers and opportunities.  If you’re an actor, I encourage you to join and get stuck in!

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Highly Strung – and not a Dirty Window in Sight!

It’s good to learn new things when you’re in the acting biz – every new skill adds a string to your bow. And every new string makes you more attractive to casting types, so:

I’m learning the Ukulele.

And before you say it, it’s not all George Formby and “When I’m Cleanin’ Winders”*! Did you know that John Lennon started out on the Ukulele before he could play guitar?  This makes playing a Uke officially “Cool”. So I’m told.

Though maybe not the hat.

But why the Ukulele?

Well, everyone does the Guitar, don’t they? Imagine how bored casting directors must get by the time the 30th guitar appears on stage!  But a Ukulele?  Well, it just makes you smile, doesn’t it?

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll pop a YouTube sing-song up sometime!

I sat down for a chat with Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, the other week.  He’s a charming and wonderfully enthusiastic man who genuinely loves his job.

It was the first time I’d been to the City since working with Dead Earnest on a project back in 2005. It was also my first return to the Crucible Theatre since seeing Kenneth Brannagh do Richard III there many moons ago.

It was a treat to spend time in Sheffield again – it’s the perfect model of how to regenerate a town, with art, sculpture and poetry seemingly everywhere you look! If you’ve never been, I encourage you to visit sometime.

And my chat with Daniel? Ah, well that’s between me, him and Frost Magazine 😉

I recently caught a snippet of the old Richard Burton/Peter O’Toole film, “Beckett”.  It’s a brilliant film with two acting heavyweights trying to outshine each other on screeen.  It’s as close as acting comes to bare-knuckle boxing.  I’ve been inspired to put together a new VideoTim based on the ferocity and fury of one of those scenes.

I look forward to sharing it with you.  Next Time.

Until then, have a happy Easter and don’t eat all your eggs at once!

*Yes, I’ve started learning “When I’m Cleaning Windows”.  There’s probably a law mandating it somewhere.

Of Excitable Pooches and Fluffy Jackets: on the set of Wasteland.

I recently completed a day of filming on the upcoming British movie Wasteland.  I thought I’d jot down a few words about the experience.  Note; I’m not going to be talking about plots, scripts or famous faces – if you want to know about them, go and see the film 😉

I spent the night before in a swanky Leeds hotel but, sadly, the unfamiliar surroundings and the excitement of the new project kept me restless past midnight.  In an attempt to lull myself to sleep, I began channel hopping – I ended up watching Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”.

This was not a great idea.

With swirling visions of scalped Nazis and burning cinemas rolling about my head, I finally got some shut-eye, ready for a 7am call.

Rising the next morning like an extra from Dawn of the Dead, I quickly showered and made my way through the eerily quiet centre of Leeds to the shoot location.

After a brisk 30 minute walk on an empty stomach, I was greeted by the smell of eggs, bacon, hash-browns and toast – God bless movie caterers!

Fully fed and coffeed, I made my way to costume and make-up.  I was promptly given a neat “short back and sides”, to get the look of the character just right.  I was later used as a fake-tattoo guinea pig, with the make-up team covering my right hand in various inks and sprays.  Y’know, this acting lark is just an excuse for us adults to play Dress Up, I swear.

I can’t tell you too much about the shoot itself (Rowan, the director, knows people; scary, scary people!*) but the sheer scale of a feature film shoot always amazes me – even for the simplest of scenes.  The morning shoot had 4 actors and one location but there must’ve been nearly 20 crew members milling around – cutting off traffic, winding cables, holding light reflectors and re-touching makeup.

My scenes ended up being pushed back in the running order so I spent much of my time watching the filming from behind the camera.  I love to see how it all works; the steadicam cameramen and their runners, the gaffers, the director, the 1st and 2nd AD’s, the sound people all working seamlessly together like a well oiled machine.  And by “well oiled” I mean “highly caffeinated”.

It was a lovely sunny day (see if you can spot it in the film!) but the wind was sharp and biting.  Happily, the thoughtful costume team provided us delicate-skinned acting folk with fluffy puffer jackets to keep warm.  Which was nice.

It was late afternoon before I got the other side of the camera, dodging curious school children and making friends with an excitable Alsatian.  Filming went well and hours seemed to zip by in the blink of an eye.  I was soon getting back into my civvies and heading off for another night in another hotel.

10 hours on set, who knows what will end up in the final edit?

Such is the life of an actor.

Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.

*okay, he doesn’t really. Unless you count Timothy Spall.

“Wasteland” Feature Film Casting.

A quick update to announce that I’ve accepted a role in the upcoming British feature film “Wasteland”.

Starring Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series of films), Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter, just about everything), Vanessa Kirby (the BBC’s recent Great Expectations) and directed by talented writer/director Rowan Athale, “Wasteland” is a great project with a wonderful cast.

I’m thrilled to be joining them as the latest actor on set.

You can read the IMDB listing for the movie here.

Filming starts next week. More details soon,…

Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.

A Few Thoughts on the “High Profile Credits” Conundrum.

Earlier this month I made my way down to London to meet BAFTA Nominated film director Gabriel Gauchet. I auditioned for his latest short thriller, a tightly written heart-stopper about stalking. If you’re not familiar with Gabriel’s work, I suggest you check him out. You can find out more about his work at www.gabrielgauchet.com.

I also managed to sneak a few words with ace casting director Brendan McNamara, who was kind enough to answer a few questions that I had after regarding his book “It’s the Audition, Stupid!” You can read my book review and a snippet of the interview over at Frost Magazine.

My chat with Brendan re-enforced my view that casting directors and directors put a lot of stock in the profile of an actors’ credits – the higher the profile, the more dependable the actor.

While Brendan was keen to stress that he likes trying out new people and taking a few risks, my impression was very much that casting directors still concentrate on what is written on your CV.

Now, by “high profile credits” I don’t necessarily mean leading roles. What I’m talking about are appearances with the leading theatre companies, speaking roles on popular TV shows and working with influential directors. The roles don’t need to be big, but it’s remarkable how a few names on your credits can affect your career.

So if high profile credits are important to you being considered for high profile gigs, how do you ever get high-profile credits? Surely it’s a vicious circle?

Not necessarily.

Casting directors like to see new work. They don’t always have the time to go and see every show that’s playing across the country but if you ask casting directors or, indeed, theatre/film directors, to see something that you’re in, it’s a good bet that they’ll at least consider it – just remember to get them free tickets.

If a casting director sees you in the flesh and likes what they see then suddenly that CV becomes less important.

And specialise. Sure, you may not have major credits on Doctor Who or Great Expectations but what if the Casting Director needs someone who can ride a horse or juggle? All of a sudden, you’re ahead of the pack; you’ve got something they need. And if they need it for a feature or a TV role then,… well, you might get that credit after all.

I’m mentioning this because I’m stuck in a frustrating lull at the moment and I’m not going to rest on my laurels and wait for my agent to call.

I’m in contact with 3MT in Manchester and tentative plans are afoot for performing in a comedy radio show in front of a theatre audience. I’ve also been asked to create original content for their upcoming internet TV station (more news soon).

But, more importantly, I’m in the early stages of putting together a one man show at the venue. It might be months before I’m cast in a mainstream show at a large venue – months that are wasted from a casting point of view. By creating content with a partner venue, I can control how and when casting bods can see me live.

They can also, of course, see my newly updated showreel on my Spotlight, CCP and Starnow profiles.

On the specialisation front, I’m actively seeking out courses in everything from camera acting technique to circus skills, horse riding, sword fighting and many others. Obviously I’ll not do all of these at once, but it’s good to see what’s out there. I’m also ensuring that my current specialisms, my Dramaturgy, my puppetry experience, my period features and voice, and my high-energy comedy chops are pushed to the fore.

And you’d be right to think; “Heck, Tim, isn’t that all rather expensive? How are you going to afford it all?”

Aha, well that’s a story for my next blog,…

Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.