Tag Archives: Film

Overcoming the Anxiety of Getting Seen.

Being a working actor can be terrifying. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most fickle and over-subscribed industry on Earth, with hundreds, if not thousands, of actors applying for every single role that you apply for.

To make matters worse, if you don’t have an agent you’re probably only seeing 10% of the roles that are being passed about by those most terrifying, and wonderful, of gate-keeping humans: Casting Directors* (pay attention to the asterisk – it’s coming back later!)

I’m reminded, now that I’m back pounding pavements, just how difficult it is to be seen by the right people to make any progress in this business. The level of anxiety that can produce is very real. But how can we overcome it?

I’ve been reading up on advice given by Casting Directors and one phrase really jumped out at me:

Stay Positive.

Christ alone knows how difficult that can be when you’ve sent off your 10th pitch of the day and recieve crickets for your reward. The sheer force of silence on the other side of the casting divide is both deafening and deeply disheartening. But I understand what they mean when they say Stay Positive. I get it.

Because if you have the tenacity – if you get out there and be positive about yourself, your ability, your look and your aims, the right casting director will eventually see you at the right time for the right audition. You just need to trust the process.

Here’s the thing about that: *Casting Directors are lovely people – I know a couple of wonderful CDs (hello you!) and I can say this with complete conviction. Casting Directors want to find great actors and put them forward because they love TALENT.

They love finding a great actor as much as an actor loves finding a great role. If you are confident in your ability to deliver a performance that will win the part why should you be afraid to reach out and ask to be seen? I mean, don’t do it constantly – god no! They’re busy and don’t want to be bombarded – but a very occasional hello to remind them you’re active is fine. Encouraged, even.

Belief in your ability is what will hold you together. Not to a concieted or egotistical level (no no no no) but with a confident conviction that, actually, you are good at what you do. That you can demonstrate this. So long as you have this belief, you’ll be able to keep on punching through. Keep on fighting. Keep on reaching out to the people who need to see you.

Sometimes that belief will falter so go out and talk to other actors, directors and producers. Get out there and become part of a supportive network who will keep you fresh, keep your talent sharp and help to remind you that you deserve your part in the mix.

I was very humbled to recieve some beautiful feedback on an audition the other day. I was so nervous heading in for it – I hadn’t gone in for a face to face audition since long before Covid, but I had a monolgue that I knew I could deliver really well (rehearse, people!) and an idea of the character I was casting for that I knew would show thought and consideration.

Indeed, I used the nerves I felt outside that room to enhance my monologue – a character filled with an internal rage and self loathing. I turned that nervous energy inward, just as I’d learned to do over the decades I’ve been at this.

I came out of the audition knowing that a) I’d done my very best and the applause I’d recieved meant I hadn’t fucked it up (phew!) And b) that, actually, I probably wasn’t a perfect physical fit for the role, compared with other actors there.

I was very happy to hear, afterwards, that my instincts were right: the Director and Casting Director loved what I’d done. They loved my audition and my monologue to a point where it made them reconsider the character.

I’d come so very close to the lead role I’d gone for,… but my physical look meant there was another choice who – rightly – got that part instead.

(NB: I never feel bad about loosing a role if the right person gets it. Never. I love film. I love theatre and TV and drama and creating great work: why would I be upset that the film I wanted to be in is now cast perfectly? Makes no sense.)

But what it gave me was reassurance: I’d proven to myself that I was needed in that room. That I was worth their time. That I can deliver a performance that can make Casting Directors, Directors and audiences sit up and pay attention.

And for that I was so grateful.

It gave me my Positivity.

What else do you need? Well I’ll be going into that in some depth over the upcoming weeks – how to plan, who to connect with, what to create yourself (and why) and more. Hit subscribe and keep up to date to learn more about my process and my progress.

Tim x

See you next time!

Tim is currently seeking representation and casting opportunities. If you like what you see on his showreel and gallery, he welcomes approaches from casting professionals.

Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

Back In The Game: Why Now Is The Time I’m Returning to Acting and Writing.

You could argue – with some success – that I hadn’t actually left acting in the first place, but it’s true to say that I stopped actively chasing work after the birth of my son in 2017.

Anthony was born very premature and required a lot of time and care in the early months of his life. I needed to be available and I needed to secure a steady, reliable income to be so. As such, I became a permanent member of staff at my local GP surgery (where I’d been temping for many years).

I settled my finances and secured my immediate future but lost my ability to audition.

It needed to be done.

Some work still came my way even without chasing it. I find this a constant, though very welcome, surprise when it happens. A publisher in New York approached me to narrate an audiobook for a NY Times bestselling author (through ACX) in 2018. Working around my surgery hours, I completed the project in early 2019. I’ve also had consistent work from a medical roleplay company that has kept my acting tools sharp throughout, with 2 or 3 one-day gigs a month.

I also gained very strong interest in providing the continuity voiceover for a medical fly-on-the-wall documentary series that was pitched to BBC2. Sadly, the pilot didn’t result in a series comission and Covid meant that the project fell by the wayside.

See what I mean about not actually leaving acting work? It’s probably more accurate to say that it never really left me.

So why am I going back now?

To answer that I have to go back to 2012 when I started a one-person Copywriting and Public Speaking Agency to support my acting and writing ambitions. Having worked as an award-winning copywriter for BT for many years, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to provide income and freedom – and it was immediately successful.

Sadly, in 2015 I suffered a bout of depression. This was compounded by the passing of my mother and grandmother in 2016. My agency work was placed on hold while I got myself back into shape and returned to a lesser degree when I worked at the surgery.

I’d always promised myself that I would move back into performing if the agency started to take up slack from the surgery. In late 2019 this seemed to be happening, with a run of success that closed off the year with a bang.

And 2020,…. we all know what happened.

2021, however, has seen the agency take off once again, with enough work to support myself and my family, and the freedom to choose when I do it. It’s my “side hustle” once more.

You HAVE to have a side hustle as an actor and performer. Unless you’re already independently wealthy, you won’t survive the infrequency of the work you get as an actor until you “make it” – and 99% of us never hit the dizzying heights of “main stars” like David Tennant or Idris Elba, though we must fight to.

My good friend and colleague Catherine Balavage (http://www.frostmagazine.com) once put it best: you have to be an Actorpreneur. Give yourself the income to support yourself and the freedom to chase the work. She wrote a fantastic book on the subject that you can read here.

Which is why, now both of my children are more independent and my side-hustle is secured, now is the time to pound on doors and chase the work once more.

I am intensely proud of my work at the GP surgery and forever grateful for them for providing me the stability I needed when I needed it most. It was with a heavy heart that I handed in my notice in August and left for the final time in September.

So I’m back. Properly back – applying for castings, dialling up old contacts and hitting the streets once more to fight for my place in the great market of creatives. I have already secured a new showing of Alice in Wonderland with my long-term collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre and am waiting to hear on a few other potential opportunities that have drifted my way.

I had my first new headshot photoshoot in many, many years last week with the BRILLIANT Ania Pankiewicz (https://www.aniapank.co.uk/) and will be sharing the results very soon.

And let’s not forget The Secret Keeper, which continues to bubble away as we re-submit funding for the pilot, which will be back in the hands of Arts Council England some time next week.

This is where I’ll be updating you on my progress and sharing my insights as I move forward – it’s very exciting to me and I hope that you’ll find it equally interesting.

Subscribe to the blog, follow me on the ol’ tweets and I’ll see you all again soon.

Stay frosty!

Tim

https://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502

https://www.mandy.com/uk/actor/timothy-austin-1

https://www.thetalentmanager.com/talent/157692/tim-austin

Tim is currently seeking representation and casting opportunities. If you like what you see on his showreel and gallery, he welcomes approaches from casting professionals.

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

Medical Roleplay and The Man with a Plan

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 – timaustin2000@googlemail.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?

Until next time, stay frosty!

Tim x

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

Life Like Mine Update.

DSC_0470

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.

…..

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!

…….

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!

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.

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.