Tag Archives: networking

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.

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!

      Good to Be Back

      Would you look at the date!

      Where have I been? I’ll get to that in a second. First; some news!

      If you look at the header above, you’ll notice a change; my blog will no longer be known as Actortim. In the interest of putting a more professional face to my online world, I shall be using the domain name http://www.tim-austin.co.uk from now on. So welcome to my new home; it’s just like the old one but it’s wearing a slightly sharper suit.

      Date Night is now doing the rounds on the short film circuit and, having seen the result, I’m very proud of what we put together. I’ll be adding a clip to my showreel soon so keep those peepers peeled!

      This Wednesday see’s me zipping over to Lancaster for a meeting with Demi Paradise about their 2012 show “Much Ado About Nothing”. I’m very excited about this as I simply adore performing Shakespeare and opening up his genius to new audiences. I’ll also be writing my thoughts on the upcoming film “Anonymous” and the various “who wrote Shakespeare” theories soon. You don’t want to miss that (it’s not gonna be pretty!)

      And so onto the big question; just where in blazes have I been for the last few weeks?

      Simple answer? Temping. Yes, ladies and gentlebeans, I’ve been doing a 9-5 job – slipping into black trousers and dangerously bright shirts to help out at my local GP surgery. It’s not a permanent thing, indeed I’ve only a couple more weeks to go before I’m shown the door, but it gives me something that is essential to any actor; security.

      The security to pay my Spotlight and Equity subscriptions, the security of a little money ferreted away to get to auditions and to pay my rent into the New Year and the security of knowing precisely where my next paycheque is coming from. It may sound like small tamales to many of you but trust me, for an actor, that’s a biiig deal.

      But, as my work is nearly done, I’m hitting the trail – hunting for the acting work, applying for the castings and putting myself about like Belle De Jour’s excitable younger cousin!

      And it’s good to be back.

      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.

      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.

      London Calling

      Hi-de-hi campers! Another couple of weeks have passed by and, my my, haven’t they been eventful? First up; A Price on Life! Yes, Morph Films’ internet short about the privatisation of the NHS is now complete and viewable on their YouTube page. And yes; I’m in it.

      Would you like to see? Well then; Tim’ll fix it for you;

      Beyond that, last Saturday (the 23rd of July), I attended a great industry networking event in Manchester called “Surviving Actors”. I love events like this and it was a joy to be a part of it.

      Being an actor can be a lonely existence. Unless you’re in the midst of a performing community or currently part of a large cast, you may go weeks without meeting another actor. As such, you’ve got no-one to talk to about your career and little by way of support along the way. You’ve also got no way of really gauging your success or discussing your triumphs and failures. Of course there is a community online, with messaging boards and social media, but it’s just not the same as sitting down over a coffee and talking to someone. Get-togethers like “Surviving Actors” are a great place to do just this and I met some very interesting and diverse actors, directors and companies while I was there.

      What the event really brought home to me was just how far I have come since my very first blog post back in March; it gave me a valuable sense of perspective. I’ve come a very long way on my journey so far – further than I had credited myself for. I left “Surviving Actors” with a renewed sense of optimism and a spring in my step!

      And I had good reason to do so; A few days before I made the journey to Manchester, I received an offer of an audition from, would you believe it, the Ambassadors Theatre in London. Yes, me auditioning for the West End! Who’d a’ thunk it?

      As such, I’ve just returned after a couple of days in ol’ London town. I auditioned on the main stage at the Ambassadors, which is currently hosting “Stomp!” (and has been since time-immemorial!) It’s an odd experience, telling Christmas stories while surrounded by trash cans and cyber-punk drums! How did I do? Well, that’s for the casting directors to decide. I’ll let you know 😉

      If you’d like a taste of what I performed for them, check out my post RE VideoTim (above).

      Well, I’ve rambled on for long enough and I’ll bid you adieu  for now. Don’t forget to watch “A Price on Life” and take a look at the new VideoTim’s! Comments, feedback and chit-chat always welcome.

      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

      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/

      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