Tag Archives: British

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.

From London to Blackburn – busy, busy!

Chugga-cha-chum-chugga-cha-chum. It’s a sound I’ve been getting very used to in recent weeks.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on trains, y’see. Not being a driver (yet), trains are my main method of getting to and from auditions – and I’ve been auditioning quite a bit recently.

Three weeks ago I travelled to Blackburn for Pendle Productions and Storytellers Theatre. They’d invited me down to audition for their 2011/12 winter tours and, knowing how well regarded they are and the quality that they demand from their performers, I was glad to attend.

It was a very enjoyable audition with a little song, a bit of dance and a jot of storytelling.

And then there was my commercial audition for Jared Hess, the director of Napoleon Dynamite. I’ve just returned from London after the audition at the Green Room in Soho. It’ll be a commercial that’ll air in the UK over Christmas – so, national exposure and good money. And the chance of working with a genuine Hollywood director.

“Date Night” filming is now complete and I’ve been shown a sneak peek of the final cut. It’ll be doing the rounds on the short film circuit, starting later this year. A clip will be added to my showreel as soon as the film is completed. More updates to follow.

But, as of now, I’m back “resting” although there’s really no “rest” involved. I sit at my desk from 9-5 making calls, writing in to castings and arranging visits. In fact, in many ways, I’m busier now than I ever was when I was in “regular” employment!

I’m hopeful that my recent endeavours will see me back on stage or in front of a camera before too long but I’m always looking for new and exciting projects.

If you’re a producer, a director or a casting agent, do take a good look around the site. If you think I might be suitable for something that you’re casting, do get in touch – you’ll find my email address on my “Contact” page.

Until next time, however; take care and stay frosty.

Has Hollywood Gone Potty for Limeys?

A few weeks ago I attended a fantastic industry networking event in Manchester. Among the exhibitors was Industry Hollywood, a company whose sole aim is to help British actors to grow their exposure across the pond. They told me that UK talent is in real demand over in the “Land of the Free”.

So this got me thinking; is this actually true and, if so, why?

Take a gander at the casts of some of the most popular shows on American network TV and you’re sure to come across a fair few Brits. Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife, Linus Richie in Law and Order, Louise Lombard in CSI – this is just a small selection of Brits to “crack” the US drama scene.

The same can be said of many Hollywood movies, with the re-jigged Batman franchise, the upcoming Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man and recent Oscar contenders such as The Social Network all featuring British performers taking roles that could easily be played by Americans.

So, on the surface at least, Hollywood has indeed gone potty for the “Limeys”. But why?

Could it be a cultural thing? In the UK, we have a long and noble theatre tradition, with actors cutting their teeth on stages across the nation before making the move to TV and onto film. In the US this tradition is often reversed. Might this create a different “style” of performance that is now “in vogue”?

In a 2007 interview for the Radio Times, Stephen Fry talked about the difference between American and British actors; “[Take] the supreme relaxed authenticity of a James Stewart or a George Clooney compared with the brittle contrivances of a Laurence Olivier or a Kenneth Branagh, marvellous as they are”

I would certainly agree that you can, at times, see a distinct difference in style when a British actor is dropped into an American TV drama. Take Christopher Eccleston’s short stint in Heroes – he sticks out like a sore thumb. There’s nothing wrong with his performance but it’s certainly different to those around him; he’s performing a role (brilliantly) while those around him are “inhabiting” their characters in a far more comfortable fashion. I’d say the same about the wonderful Hugh Laurie in House.

Now I’m a firm believer that good acting is good acting and I’m wary of the notion that we Brits are in any way “better” than our American cousins. But does our different tradition and altered style make us more attractive to US casting executives? Is there a fashion for “Brit style” acting at the moment?

Maybe not.

In an interview for the Caledonian Mercury, Scottish TV producer Andrea Calderwood, who now works in the US TV Industry, gives another theory; Cost.

“,… Producers are always on the look out for new talent which won’t break the budget. Enter stage right all those eager and ambitious British actors hungry for that Hollywood breakthrough.”

Are we really just “White Mexicans”, a phrase that is apparently doing the rounds in LA?

Toby Hemmingway, a British actor making huge strides in his career over in America, might have a few words to say about that. In a recent interview for the Guardian, he claimed that British actors benefitted from being more resilient.

“It’s the natural pessimism. Being a good loser. Americans think 15 minutes of fame and it’s all over or it’ll make you. Brits are more dogged and realistic”

It’s an interesting idea; that Brits are more tenacious in their attempts to find work. But is it true?

And, indeed, should we be complaining if we’re simply “cheaper” as long as it get us the work?

Whatever the reason, I’m encouraged to try my hand in the states, should an opportunity arise.