Tag Archives: Advice

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.

Exciting Times!

Filming continues on “Date Night”, the short film I’m starring in somewhere in the depths of Lancaster, with exterior scenes due to be completed next weekend.

I really enjoy the challenge and discipline of working on camera; it’s an art in itself and very different to working as an actor on stage. There are yawning chasms of time between shots while lighting and cameras are rigged, sound is checked and notes are given. During this time, you have to hold any emotion or energy that you were expressing in the shot before to re-create it for the next; it’s a great test of mental discipline!

And I love it, just as I love working an audience on stage. Indeed, I’m not sure which I prefer more, stage work or filming; it’s all good!

That said, I’m really hankering after more film work after “Date Night” is complete, the trouble being that my contacts in the film and TV world are a little limited. Though things change. In fact, if you’re a film or TV producer, or if you know a really good one, do drop me a line.

My First article for Frost Magazine is now live and you can read it here. There will be another online this weekend and I’m preparing a very exciting set of articles and interviews over the next few weeks, all of which is pretty hush-hush and on the QT.

I’m also in the very early stages of setting up a possible showcase in Manchester, for the benefit of producers and directors in the town. Early days but it’s looking pretty exciting.

Y’see, you’ve got to make yourself heard in this business; anyone can have a decent CV and hundreds of people have “graduated from an accredited stage school”. But if you don’t put in the leg work and get yourself seen, you’re going nowhere fast, bucko. So that’s what I’m doing; putting in the leg work, and I’ll tell you all about it next time,….

Don’t be a stranger!

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.

And now, The News,….

This Tuesday sees me back before cameras, this time for the upcoming short film “Date Night”.

A near-silent romantic drama, “Date Night” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that’s sure to turn a few heads. I can’t give much away about the plot or my part in it but I’m really looking forward to playing a part with some real emotional clout. More news, links and juicy tit-bits from the set on my next blog post (probably in the next couple of days)!

Okay, I know you’re going to ask; no, I didn’t get that West End gig from a couple of weeks back. On the upside, the audition gave me a reason to write a new monologue for my Videotim YouTube channel (you can find it here) and the piece has been getting some great reviews. In fact, my agent, having seen the video, is now beating his way down new paths and knocking on a few storytelling doors using this video as ammunition. Always a good thing!

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my main profile image to the right and on my “About Tim Austin” page. This is in response to advice I’ve been getting recently about playing “to type”. It has occurred to me that my old image, while a slightly nicer shot, didn’t reflect my slightly geekier, odder character. It was, in short, too “leading actor” when I’m more a “lead villain” or “elfin” type. There may be changes to the written profile as well soon, with this in mind.

The eagle eyed among you may also have noticed that my Spotlight CV now houses a copy of my Showreel; this is a major step forward. Many casting directors search exclusively for profiles with a showreel so this opens me up to a much wider slice of casting network online.

On the subject of opening myself up to a wider audience, I’ve approached an online magazine with a view to becoming a columnist. I can’t tell you which magazine, as things are at a very early stage and they’ve not given me any green light yet, but it would mean “ActorTim” blogs becoming predominantly news based in future. Articles about my thoughts on the industry, interviews and reviews would appear elsewhere.

If you’d like to follow my progress and get regular updates about what I’m up to and where you might see me in action, please subscribe using the button on the right of the page. If you’d like to continue hearing my thoughts on the industry, along with reviews and interviews, stay tuned and I’ll have news on my journalistic ambitions soon!

Take care and stay frosty!

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.

Keepin’ on Truckin’

On Tuesday I met the wonderfully creative and talented Steve Byrne, artistic director at Interplay Leeds. After congratulating him on his increased National Portfolio funding (and if you know Interplay, you’ll know how much they deserved it!) we got chatting about our past work together and possibilities for the future.

Steve seemed keen to work with me as a performer and we discussed some projects that he has in the pipeline. Nothing concrete, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be back in rehearsal with Interplay before long.

I also had a chat with Darren at Morph Films about filming A Price on Life, the NHS protest piece that I developed a few weeks back (see my post below). We hope to be putting it in front of cameras sometime early in June, although we haven’t got a firm date fixed yet. I should have more news on this in my next blog.

I’ve been busy applying for new castings all over the shop this week. The most exciting of these is an opportunity to perform for the simply wonderful Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah on their Stig of The Dump tour later this year. I’ve wanted to work with the Blah’s for simply ages and I have many fingers and toes crossed for an audition. I love the ethos of the company and, having worked with disabled actors and audiences quite a few times in my career so far, I am always excited when a new project like this comes up.

My chat with Steve at Interplay got me thinking beyond my acting career, however. Having worked with me when I was Dramaturg on Daughter of the Winds and Happy Days, Steve was curious to know why I hadn’t been actively chasing Dramaturgy and writing work in recent months. I started explaining to him that there was little interest in this side of my career when it suddenly hit me; that wasn’t actually true.

In recent months I have been asked to write two plays and provide Dramaturgical feedback on a full movie screenplay! Red Ladder seem keen to engage me in more script reading too, although their plans are a little up in the air due to their recent ACE funding cut.

In fact, whenever I start talking to people about my career so far, ears seem to prick up when I mention my Dramaturgy. Life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy doing something else – and I can testify to that.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to push ahead with the launch of a blog dedicated to this side of my career – You’ll find it at dramaturgtim.wordpress.com. It’ll launch tomorrow night (17/5/2011, about 20.00 GMT) so keep your eyes peeled!

You may also have noticed a major facelift to the site. I’ve re-jigged it to make things more accessible and information about me easier to find. Please take a good look around.

I’m off to a meeting with the Arts Council later today so I shall have to disappear off. But you stay frosty, y’hear?

Tim Austin is an Actor and Theatre Dramaturg working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV by clicking here and a full biography by clicking here.

A Month in the Playground

It’s been a frustrating and mixed few weeks since my last post.

“Disowned”, the short film that I was due to complete late last month (wonderfully witty and clever script!), had to be shelved due to a sudden and unforseen funding withdrawal. This left quite a sizeable hole in my timetable and was a blow to the momentum that I was building up. It quite took the wind out of my sails and now leaves me one segment short of a full showreel.

But, swings and roundabouts, I was asked to write a short play to protest at the cuts and back-door privatisation of the NHS. My friend Aliki, one of the driving forces behind Lancasters’ Theatre Uncut show, joined me on stage for a rehearsed reading of the play at an NHS fundraiser and the script was flatteringly well received. Indeed, so successful was it that the good people at Morph Films have offered to film it (a replacement segment on the showreel! Yay!) The script has also been posted on the Proper Gander Goose blog, to be used (for free and gratis!) by protest groups and performers anywhere in the UK.

Swings. Roundabouts.

Having liked my performance in Whiff Whaff a couple of months ago, Joe Sumpsion – Artistic Director at The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster – offered me an audition for their upcoming “Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur”. This was a fantastic opportunity to perform in a nationally-recognised piece of event theatre. Great News!

Swings. Roundabouts. Slides.

I didn’t get the part.

Not that I’m particularly upset at this – if you got upset every time you didn’t get a part, you’d be a pretty lame duck as an actor!

Indeed, I’m very proud of how well I did in the audition and my performance was welcomed very warmly – but it wasn’t what they were looking for. And that’s fair enough, frankly; the play’s the thing, as Billy the Bard once wrote. I am hopeful that I can work with them at some point in the near future and we’re staying in touch.

Sand pits. (Am I stretching this analogy now? Be honest.)

With nothing new on the immediate horizon, I start my own set of filmed monologues (see below or click on VideoTim in the sidebar). The first of these, An Invitation to Dinner, is very well received and I’m very proud of the finished product. I’m up again! Feeling good, feeling positive!

SeeSaws.

But I seem to hit a brick wall. With the lovely weather and two 4 day weekends in quick succession, I find it nigh-on impossible to publicize myself. What follows is 2 painfully frustrating weeks where calls and e-mails seem to dissapear into the ether. Self promotion can be a difficult thing at the best of times but, with more days off than days in the office, casting directors and producers seem to blank me entirely. Oof.

Well what are you to do? You dust yourself down and get back on the wagon, that’s what! My determination undimmed, I pick myself up and continue to chase down new projects and new collaborators.

After all, what else is there to do?!

Tim Austin is an Actor and Theatre Dramaturg 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 his bio here https://actortim.wordpress.com/about-actortim/

What’s in a Name?

As Shakespeare once famously observed “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2). However Billy The Bard never met Max Clifford.

And nor have I, so let’s not go nuts.

The point I’m trying to make is this; a name can tell a person something about you before they actually meet you. Now, this message needn’t actually be true or accurate (what would you think of me if I was called Poobags Bugmuncher? Would you let me work with kids?) but it’s there.

So this week I asked myself the question; What is my professional name saying to directors, producers and casting agents? Should I be Tim Austin or Timothy Austin? Should it be something else entirely (“The Royal Shakespeare Company presents Poobags Bugmuncher as Hamlet”)?

After a great deal of thought, I settled on a change from Tim to Timothy but I’m very aware that there may be other opinions out there (Hello Aliki!). So, what do you think? Fire up those Mice and get a-clickin’! ALL of you! It’ll just take a second!

<<Update: The poll has now closed, thanks for all your contributions>>

And now, the News,….

After a day recovering from a fantastic show night on the 19th, it was straight back to work. I’m not the kind of person to sit back and wait for my agent to call; in fact, this is the worst thing you can do, especially when you’re just starting out! Gotta make some noise about Actortim!

On Wednesday night I spent a lovely evening with street theatre bods at the Green Room in Manchester, care of XTrax. There’s so much going on out there on the streets, people! From the insane but wholly adorable antics of Thingumajig Theatre and their Giant Hippo’s to the dedicated team at Lakesalive who are fighting to make Cumbria a Centre for Street Arts Excellence. It’s a fantastic and vibrant sector of the artistic universe and one which is far too often overlooked here in the UK.

This week also saw me getting in touch with a few old friends – namely Rod Dixon over at Red Ladder and Steve Byrne at Interplay, both of whom I’ll be having a cuppa with in the next week.  I’ll also be having a chat with Joe Sumsion soon to catch his thoughts on Theatre Uncut.

On the casting front, this week I’ve applied to be; King Arthur, A Terry Thomas Sound-a-Like and a character on a Blackpool pleasurebeach “4D” ride (scream if you wanna go faster!)

So it’s onward and upward. It’s meetings galore and networking MADNESS over the next few weeks before I drop in front of the camera again in MCT Production’s “Disowned” in Liverpool.

As ever, wish me luck!

Headshot in The Bag!

Just a quick thank you to those kind souls who have helped me to decide on my new headshot, you’ll see it plastered everywhere from now on.

And extra special thanks to Gaye Woollard for being such a patient and constructive photographer and going the extra mile to ensure I got exactly what I needed!

Help! I’ve Been Headshot!

Greetings once again, and thank you in advance!

Because, y’see, I need your help; a second opinion, so to speak. I have been out with a photographer this week, trudging across the North Yorkshire Moors to try and capture a dynamic and alluring new headshot! I have three to show you and I would like you to vote on which is your favorite. I already have mine, but I’d like to hear your thoughts and, more importantly, your votes on which you prefer.

So, here they are; vote in the poll at the bottom! Your thoughts will directly influence my choice of main headshot so don’t be shy! Opinions and thoughts welcome! Off you Go!

3 Weeks of Serendipity

Welcome back to actortim, glad you could make it. Pull up a chair, there’s tea in the pot – don’t mind the dog, he’s always does that.

I’d like to start off with an admission; Three weeks ago, before I started writing this blog and, indeed, before the idea even entered my brain, I was feelin’ blue. My career seemed to have lost momentum and I was struggling to focus. Without money and without an agent I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I wasn’t getting very far.

Which just goes to show; Sometimes I don’t know shit.

Fast forward three weeks. I’m now deep in rehearsal for two plays (performing in one, directing the other), I’m due on location in Liverpool in a few weeks to shoot a short film, I have a list of new arts contacts as long as my arm (and they’re all lovely – each and every one of them!) and – here’s the biggie – I’ve now got myself an agent. What a difference 3 weeks make.

No meet and greet, it seems, is a waste of time; EVERY contact is useful. My sudden change in fortunes is a testament to this.

A few months ago, I decided to meet up with Lancaster’s short film society. This was way back in 2010; there was clearly no money in it and I had no idea how serious they were about their work before I met them, but I went along anyway. Nothing much came from that initial meeting and, to the untrained eye, it might’ve seemed like a bit of a loss. But, among those talented and generous filmmakers was a lady who would, 3 weeks ago, call me up out of the blue to let me know about Theatre Uncut – a national demonstration against government spending cuts. I was invited along to a workshop audition and, well, here I am! Ta Daa!

And even this Theatre Uncut project might seem like a bit of a gamble. Although it’s a great cause, and one which I’m proud to support, there is, once again, no money in it – and you have to be careful about giving your time for free in this business. But I plunged into it nonetheless (anything to make my disgust at this current political shambles heard!)

But had I not taken that chance, had I decided that I had “better things to do” that day, I would have missed a superb opportunity to meet and greet some of the regions’ brightest and best media and theatre talents, many of whom began donating their time to the cause. And had I not taken this gig, I wouldn’t have an agent today.

So keep your options open, take time to meet other artists, performers and peers – whether you can see an immediate benefit or not. You never know where it may lead you.

Jammy Dodger, anyone?

Learn more about Theatre Uncut at www.theatreuncut.co.uk

Resigned to a Life Less Ordinary.

Greetings, salutations and felicitations!

Welcome, dear reader, to a brave new world. My name is Tim Austin and I’m an Actor, Dramaturg and Writer based up in North Yorkshire (UK) and 5 months ago I did something very, very silly;

I resigned.

I chucked in a drab but reliable 9–5 office job to focus all of my energy on making it as an actor.

Now don’t look at me like that! And stop sniggering at the back! I know full well that it was a reckless thing to do – I had whole queues of people who were perfectly overjoyed to point this out to me at the time – but I had my reasons. Not least of which is this:

I’m not a 9-5 career kinda guy.

I never have been. I’m a theatre and film guy. I’m a thespian. A dyed-in-the-wool grease paint wearing, Shakespeare quoting, singing, dancing, wet liberal luvvy. And do you know what? Resigning was the best thing I’ve ever done.

But now comes the hard work, and it’s this hard graft that I’m here to discuss with you, my dear internet brethren. I’ve decided to blog about my experiences as an emerging actor so that others can share in the joy, the pain and the general insanity that ensues when trying to get ahead in this wonderful industry of ours.

Over the next few weeks, months and years, I’m going to be baring my soul, sharing my insight and venting my fury (delete as appropriate). Sometimes it’ll be funny, at times it’ll be a little irreverent, and often you’ll wonder why I bother – but I guarantee this; it’ll never be dull.

So join me as I hurtle into an unknown future! And don’t stay silent, I’m going to need your comments, support and advice all of the way! See that “Leave a Reply” box down there? That’s yours, that is.

This is a full on conversation and I’m opening it out to every writer, actor, producer, director and wannabe in the world! So don’t be a stranger. In fact, you can start right now by giving your thoughts and votes on the following quandary;

Next week I have a meeting with an agent to discuss representation. My question is this: do you have to have an agent to be successful as an actor? Extra points to anyone who can answer this question from experience!

Votes and comments below! Don’t be shy 😉

ACTORTIM

www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502