Tag Archives: arts

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

A Year in Review.

As  2011 fades into the mists of time and 2012 springs, Bambi like, into the face of today (don’t start!), it’s time to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead.

And it’s been a hell of a year! In 2011 I;

    • Was cast in 3 short films (2 of which are now complete).
    • Performed on stage in “Whiff Whaff” and directed another play for “Theatre Uncut”.
    • Reprised my role as the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland” at the Hebden Bridge Festival in West Yorkshire.
    • Performed improv at Contact Theatre in Manchester.
    • Auditioned on The West End and for a Hollywood director.
    • Was chosen to audition for leading roles in “Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur” and “Much Ado About Nothing”, among many others.
    • Published my first showreel.
    • Wrote sucessful play scripts for Morph Films and Rough Magic Theatre.
    • Created VideoTim, a YouTube channel dedicated to new original monologues.
    • Secured both a performing agent and a voice over agent.
    • Attended various equity and networking events, including the recent innaugral gathering of a brand new branch in North Lancashire (more on that later).
    • Became a columnist for Frost Magazine.
    • And began writing this blog.

    Whew!  I hadn’t quite realised just how busy last year had been.

    But that was 2011; What about 2012?

    Well you never know what the future is going to bring but it is my hope that, with renewed hard work and determination, things will really begin to take off. 

    I’ve already got performances at 3MT in Manchester on the cards as well as workshops for Red Ladder Theatre in Leeds. I’ll be visiting the BBC studios at Media City in Salford soon and completing a significant series of articles for Frost Magazine.

    But what else would I like to do this year? Let’s throw caution to the wind and set out my stall for the year ahead;

      • I’m still very keen to work with the team at Big Finish Productions, an audio drama company that I’ve admired for many years.
      • I’m hoping to build on my relationships with regional theatres in Lancaster, Leeds, Manchester and across Yorkshire and Lancashire. There are a few companies that I’m particularly keen to work with, including the brilliant Pilot Theatre, Northern Broadsides and (if they’ll have me!) Forced Entertainment.
      • I’d like to get more comic material on my showreel as it’s a little short on range.
      • Training ambitions this year include Horse Riding and Fencing.
      • And I’m looking for my first mainstream TV and movie roles in 2012!

      You never know what’s around the corner in this job; I was contacted about a presenting gig for Disney the other week.

      Let’s see what 2012 has in store!

      Tallyho!

      Larkin’ About

      Well, I’ve now finished my temporary assignment in the “Real World”, doing the 9-5 (or, in my case, the 8 – 6.30) and I’m back chasing new work as a performer. And, as lovely as the guys at the GP surgery were – and they were seriously lovely! Thank you, thank you! – I’m glad to be back chasing my career.

      And, wouldn’t you know it, within a week of finishing at the surgery I found myself on stage at Contact Theatre in Manchester, helping out my old friend Aliki Chaple.

      Last Saturday I performed in an improvised, and frighteningly high tech, social gaming show as part of an evening arranged by Larkin’ About. Aliki was producing and directing an interactive show called Improv Avatar and I volunteered to be one of her guinnea pigs professional actors.

      The idea was this; Three other actors and I would perform together and improvise around words tweeted to us by selected members of the audience. No script, no warnings as to how to react; nothing. Imagine Whose Line is it Anyay?… on Speed. But madder.

      It was hillarious. Flat out anarchy from start to finish and I loved it!

      Although I’ve helped to create devised works before, I’ve never performed straight Improv, except when playing to an audience for Alice and in Panto. It was a truly remarkable experience! You had to be quick!

      One moment I was attempting to force a Hippo into a cooking pot, the next I was trying to wrench my jaw out, the next I was floating in space trying to convince someone that they weren’t in Australia after all. Which was true enough.

      Manic, energetic and great entertainment.

      I’d like to thank my fellow performers, Jack Coverdale, Sharon Lancaster and Nathan Birkinshaw for being such sports, and a big thanks to Aliki for inviting us along!

      The stage for Improv Avatar

      To learn more about Larkin’ About, please visit thier website; http://larkin-about.co.uk

      Only two more weeks to Christmas! Don’t forget to buy a copy of my short story e-book, Christmas Tails – it’s a great gift and 50p of every copy goes to children in need! Click here to find out more.

      “Date Night” Filming and Updates

      Filming has now begun on “Date Night”, a short film that I’m acting in somewhere in the depths of Lancaster. I can now give you a few more details,… but not too many!

      “Date Night” is in production at LFC Productions in Lancaster and is being directed by the wonderfully creative Liam Treacy, who also wrote the script. It is a two-hander between myself and actress Collette Knowles and,… well, I can’t give any details about the plot or I’d have men with very sharp sticks knocking at my door in the dead of night.

      Last night (16/08/2011) saw the first night of filming. Interior scenes were shot at a secret location. I can tell you that it was a restaurant and that it was impossibly swish. Needless to say, no food of theirs went anywhere near my mouth! This was a great relief to the lobsters but a mild disappointment to my taste buds.

      Cameras will roll again later this week for exterior shots and pickups. I’ll be uploading some photos from set in the next couple of days so stay tuned.

      Further to my post below, I can also now reveal that I have been accepted as a columnist for Frost Magazine, a superb online lifestyle and arts magazine. I am in the process of writing my first entry which should be up online sometime next week. You can read the magazine by clicking on the link below. I’ll update you with details about my columns and articles soon.

      Read Frost Magazine here; http://frostmagazine.com

      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.

      New VideoTim!

      I have now posted 2 new videos on my Youtube channel. The first is the audition piece that I used at the Ambassadors last week; a brand new piece of storytelling with a Christmas theme. Proof that I can tell a Good tale.

      The second is a new version of the Henry V piece that I recorded a couple of months back. I wasn’t happy with the original so I took the initiative, while I had the camera (which is on loan), to re-record it. Take a look, let me know what you think. If you like these video’s, please share them as widely as you possibly can.

      Enjoy!!

      The Santa Tree by Tim Austin;

      Henry V, Chorus introduction to Act 1 (Redux)

      Parklife

      So there I was, stood beneath a tree with a cup of tea in my hand. To my left, a great wizard was muttering to himself with an almost insane look on his face. To my right, the Green Knight had just taken his head off and was standing around like a decapitated topiary figurine. He then began texting on his mobile phone. A woman then came jogging over from a Milk Float and nicked King Arthur’s sword and,… no, wait,… wait,… let me explain!

      No, I wasn’t at Tim Burton’s birthday party and I swear that no strips of paper went anywhere near my tongue. I was actually on set with the great cast and crew of The Dukes Theatre’s latest show in the park; Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur.

      Having missed out on the opportunity to join the cast earlier in the year, I e-mailed Joe Sumsion, the director of the show, and asked him whether I could look in on rehearsals. He kindly agreed and I joined the team on set in Williamson Park for an afternoon on Tuesday the 5th of July.

      I was immediately reminded of why I love being an actor: there was a tremendous, warm-hearted ensemble feel to the rehearsal. Even amid the pouring rain, actors and technicians were chatting, sharing idea’s, helping each other with their lines and pulling together to bring the legend of Camelot to life. I came across a couple of old friends (including Ian Brown, the actor who had sadly been forced to pull out from Theatre Uncut) and made a couple of new acquaintances (including the incredibly talented Cristina Catalina). Everybody seemed so dedicated to making this the very best show they could.

      Which made it all the more painful to hear that Merlin will be the very last of The Dukes’ famous plays in Williamson Park. Due to heavy funding cuts, both from the local council and from Arts Council England, the theatre can no longer afford to produce plays on this scale.

      To me this represents a serious blow to both the cultural wealth of the region and the local economy. The annual Play in the Park has become a nationally-recognised piece of event theatre which brings in audiences from all across the UK. To many, it was the only piece of theatre that they would go and see in a year and it was one of the few large-scale theatrical family shows left in the North West. There can be some consolation in hearing that funds will be diverted into producing a greater number of smaller-scale in-house shows at the Dukes’ main theatre spaces but the cultural impact of such a move cannot be understated.

      Once more we are seeing an element of our cultural heritage sacrificed at the expense of the numbers whizzing hither and thither in some unnamed and soulless Whitehall computer. For that’s what we are talking about; numbers. 1’s and 0’s. Ethereal and ephemeral computer code based on guesswork and traded as a government commodity on stock markets far away.

      It seems almost perverse that audiences of hard working and, indeed, unemployed everyday folk in Lancaster, who will never see this “money” or feel its benefit, should be deprived of a piece of quality event-theatre to satisfy the needs of such markets.

      Enjoyable days out, moments of escapism and entertainment to cherish; these things are needed more than ever during a recession. That these things are targeted first in the drive to “cut costs” so that “the numbers will balance” is truly a tragedy of our times.

      Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur will be showing at Williamson Park in Lancaster between the 8th of July and the 13th of August. For more information and to book tickets, please visit http://www.dukes-lancaster.org

      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 read about his work as a Dramaturg here; http://dramaturgtim.wordpress.com

      Of Pig Babies and Cheshire Cats

      This week I reprised my role as the Mad Hatter and Lewis Carroll (and many more!) for Rough Magic Theatre’s Alice in Wonderland at the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

      I love doing this show (I first toured in it in 2008) so I jumped at the chance to return. The Alice show is choc-full of comedy, slapstick, audience interaction, song, dance and puppetry, and it allowed me to brush up on a number of techniques all at once. It also plays to an audience of children who, as any children’s Entertainer would be happy to tell you, are the harshest and most forthright of critics. It’s a huge challenge to keep them entertained for a whole hour and I never shy away from a challenge.

      At last count, I was performing as 14 separate characters in the show. It’s a great way to keep in shape as a performer but you’re knackered by the end of it. Playing that many characters and making them all completely different is tricky but I had great fun putting it all together in rehearsal.  Going from playing a stout, ugly, nasal, sneering (cross dressing) Duchess to a limber, rolling, feline Terry Thomas-voiced Cheshire Cat requires quite a bit of vocal and physical acrobatics!

      It had been a few months since our last showing of Alice in 2010 but getting back into it was a little like riding a bike. The venue was a little noisier than I would’ve preferred,  being a community space with a working man’s club upstairs, but we had a good-sized crowd and the show went without a hitch.

      Hopefully it won’t be too long until the show is dusted off again. You can find more details about Alice in Wonderland and Rough Magic Theatre here.

      I’ve now been given a shooting date for A Price on Life, which will go before the cameras this Friday. It will end up as an internet viral demonstration piece and I’ll have a link to the YouTube video for it as soon as it’s ready.

      Beyond that, I’ve not much to report.

      Yet.

      You never know what’s round the corner in this job!

      Till next time,…..

      A Very Public Mugging

      A Man for All Seasons

       

      Welcome back to Actortim! Take a pew.

      Now, you may have noticed the comic at the top of the page and, if you have, you’ll probably have a fair idea of where I’m I’m going with this week’s post. If you’re of a nervous disposition you may want to go off and read something else. Something about bunnies or kittens or clouds. Maybe listen to some whale song while you’re at it.

      Still with me? Good.

      Engage rant mode.

      There is a strange rumor going about. Apparently, we’re skint. Oh yes, apparently, the government hasn’t got two farthings to rub together.

      Except for the £4000-a-piece missiles it’s shooting at tanks in Libya. But apart from that they’re skint.

      Though no-one told Vodafone who have just persuaded the government (who are skint, let’s not forget!) to let them off from paying a multi-billion pound tax bill.

      And the government kindly, out of the generosity, kindness and fairness of spirit that we’ve come to expect from them, allowed Barclays Bank to pay tax on only 2% of the profits they made last year; because the government obviously doesn’t really need the multi-billion pound income that this would provide. No, that would be silly; it’s not like they’re skint or anything. Except they are. Or so they say.

      All well and good, you say, but what has this got to do with acting?

      Well you see, because they’re “skint” the government can’t afford pesky things like paying for public services. They can’t afford to keep all those Police on the streets or to fund school renovations, sustain current levels of nursing or, indeed, pay us actors to “prance about on stage in tights”.

      And before you all go running off to the Daily Mail to bemoan “another fucking woolly, liberal thespian crying because his funding has been cut!” just hold your horses; I am not for a moment suggesting that theatre and arts funding should be lauded or protected above and beyond other, potentially life saving, public services!

      Of course arts funding isn’t as important as nursing or childcare provision. Given the choice, of course the money should be spent on front line public services to help the disadvantaged, the disabled and the infirm! But my point is this; none of these cuts are necessary; not cuts to nursing, policing, schooling and certainly not the arts!

      The current financial situation wasn’t caused by us (and by us I include every man, woman and child in the UK who is suffering the effects of the banking collapse) and yet, breathtakingly, we are the ones who have been told to pay the price. Not asked; told.

      And with that in mind, what I witnessed last week, where truly brilliant and inspiring theatre companies like Chol and Red Ladder were either wholly or substantially cut from the National Portfolio of Regularly Funded Organisations (NPO) by the Arts Council in England, was truly heartbreaking.

      These companies, with inspiring outreach services that took theatre into deprived areas and spoke up for silent minorities in society, became the victim of a collective mugging. A mugging for money that the government doesn’t need.

      Y’see, there’s a silent truth that stalks the halls of Whitehall. It is so dangerous and inflammatory that no one ever discusses it outside those hallowed halls. And here it is (hold on to something!);

      If the government collected all of the tax that it is owed by the multinational corporations and banks based in this country, we could eradicate the public debt instantly. Not next year, not 5 years down the line; today.

      Take a second to think about that. Let it sit in your mind.

      Greedy, irresponsible and immoral banking practices got us into this mess. They effectively stole trillions of pounds of taxpayers money when the bubble burst. But has the government chosen to recoup this money from them? Has it placed significant taxes on them to claw some of this money back? Has even one UK banker gone anywhere near jail for this?

      No.

      I’m not here to second guess why the government would prefer to make the society that it’s supposed to serve pay for rich bankers to remain rich. I’m not in a position to guess why the profits of Vodafone come before local bus services in rural areas. And I don’t have the training to question why the Arts Council in England was forced to take away £100,000,000 from theatres, galleries, directors, actors, stage hands, arts administrators, puppeteers, musicians and dancers across the country.

      All I know is that peoples livelihoods and careers have been put at risk this week. Theatre companies will have to close, outreach services will be struck down, kids who would otherwise have had access to the arts that we have, until now, taken for granted, will no longer get that chance.

      And that stinks.

      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

      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!