Tag Archives: UK

Work Begins on Seven Songs!

Rehearsals have now started on Seven Songs of Love – Rough Magic Theatre’s upcoming show, which combines storytelling, shadow puppetry and english folk song into an immersive exploration of infatuation.

I’m working as a performer, puppeteer and co-director on the piece, with an initial scratch space showing for bookers and audiences on the 16th and 17th of July at Beverley Puppet Festival (beverleypuppetfestival.com)

We’re testing out prototypes and making changes to puppets in this first week so it’s a very busy time, now that we have our rig and space up and running! We’re also in the studio recording a couple of songs (most will be performed live but there are a couple of shadow plays that won’t allow it).

It’s a busy month and a fantastic show to be collaborating on.

If you want to see the scratch space show, pop onto the link above and search for “7 Songs” for dates, venues and times.

See you there?

T x

Heart To Heart – First Pictures Released!

A few screengrabs of my most recent short film role to tide you over until editing is complete, the film is out there on the festival circuit and I can slip some footage into my showreel.

Enjoy!

Short Film, New Theatre Show, Further Training and Auditioning for TV.

Well hasn’t the time flown?

It’s been a busy ol’ few months – let’s see what I’ve been up to, shall we?

Jurassic Earth.

Having secured touring work as part of the cast for Jurassic Earth back in January, the next job was to rehearse the show and work with the puppets. Cheeky things they are too! My first show was postponed by the dreaded Covid but I eventually went out to perform on the show last month, which was tremendous fun. More dates to follow!

Short Film at Media City.

I’m just back from filming a lead role on a short film in Salford, including some studio time over in Media City – genuinely one of my favourite places in the world.

It was a great script and a great idea, which I won’t spoil here.

I look forward to seeing the finished film once they’ve graded, edited and scored it. News and clips when I have them 🙂

New Theatre Show for July.

An opportunity to create a new show with my longtime collaborators at Rough Magic Theatre presented itself in February, too.

Beverley Puppet Festival were offering Scratch Space showings and funding for new shows in July and we pitched one that’s been sat on the backburner for a while. We were delighted to be awarded funding and space to develop, and premiere, the show.

Work has begun in earnest on “Seven Songs of Love” – a combination live-action, storytelling, musical shadow show based on traditional folk songs. You can see an example clip below. You can see the scratch performance over the weekend of 15th-17th July and we hope to be touring the full show in 2023.

Further Training.

In February I started working with casting director extrodinaire Sarah Leung, picking her brains on the industry and how best to navigate castings. We also arranged some one-to-one workshops to polish my film performance. It’s essential to know what casting directors are looking for and what they need to see when you put yourself forward.

Of her many invaluable suggestions, one really resonated: tape constantly.

Don’t just wait for a casting to come along – find scripts online and film yourself daily. Keep practicing. Keep improving. Keep working, even if you’re not in front of a casting director. This will keep you sharp for that moment that you do step into that audition.

It also means that you can build a library of performances that you can send to Casting Directors later.

Whitstable Pearl.

I put this advice into practice immediately and it came in handy when I was asked to audition for the TV show Whitstable Pearl a few weeks later. This was a self-tape audition that I ran a few takes together for. I wanted to give them a few choices to pick from and I enjoyed the process immensely. I was also very happy with the results.

Sadly, the role was eliminated in re-writes so nobody ended up being called back. As a practice exercise it was invaluable, however. It also validated my approach to representing myself while I’m in between agents. Which was nice.

I’ve not even mentioned playing hide and seek with the tremendous Sarah Punshon or discussions on directing a shadow short movie.

There’s plenty more to come!

Until then, stay Frosty!

Tim x

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.

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

Books, Acting and Things: ActorTim is BACK, baby!

Where does the time go?

But let’s not start with all that!  I have been having a very busy year as a performer and as a novelist.  Let me tell you all about it,…

As you’ll have seen in my last post – oh, so long ago – I spent part of my Summer working as a storyteller in my home of Bentham.  I have also been hard at work as a medical roleplayer in Lancaster and Manchester.  It’s one of those jobs that is an enjoyable and reliable “filler” between more visible acting work.

I continued my association with Rough Magic Theatre last year, returning to perform as Lewis Carol and The Mad Hatter in a short summer tour of their “Alice In Wonderland” show at a number of festivals.  I also returned to the role of Fred Fettler in “Fred Fettler’s Pony 3000”, a street theatre show that went down a storm at Lancaster Encounter, a summertime festival in Preston.

 

Beyond acting, I have been busy writing.  My “Christmas Tails” collection of short stories has been selling well over the holiday season and I’ve been typing out stories for the sequel collection, due out later this year.

Santa Cover

Just before Christmas I released “The Santa Beneath The Ice”, a short comic/Noir crime thriller set in 1900 New York.  It quickly drew a set of Five Star reviews and sold in good numbers – though the fashion on Kindle these days seems to favour full-length novels.

With that in mind, I have already begun work on my first full-length novel featuring Keegan and Lestrade, characters that I grew very fond of during the writing of “Santa”.  Their first full-length adventure (currently under the provisional title “The Ripper of Red Hook”) will be written over the course of 2016.  I’ve already mapped out the mystery they will face and many of the characters they’ll meet on the way.  Lets see what happens!

I’ll be blogging solidly about my experience writing this first full-length work over the next year.  If you’re curious about how it feels to write a novel and what challenges a writer faces, subscribe to this blog and keep updated on my progress.

Which reminds me: this blog is going weekly.  After an eon in suspended animation, I’m ensuring that I update it every Wednesday from now on.  I hope that you can join me.

Until Wednesday, though,…

Stay Frosty.

Tim xx

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

Commercial Castings: Challenge or Chore?

I’ve just returned from an audition in London.  It was a commercial casting for a well-known home improvements retailer (for arguments sake, let’s call it Q&B) and it required some serious “these tiles don’t really exist but I’m fascinated by them anyway” acting – I wonder if that’s the kind of thing that Stanislavski had in mind when he created the System?

Commercial auditions are funny beasts.  No script, no plan, no “character” beyond a simple word or command.  But does this make them a challenge or a chore?

I certainly prefer castings for theatre or film: I feel that I have more control over the casting and the character that I’m creating.  That said, I still enjoy the challenge of selling my abilities in the time that a commercial casting gives me.  And that’s the biggest frustration of commercial casting: Time.

I once did an advert where I bought a cup of coffee at a café nearby, was called into the casting room and, when I got out, the coffee was still too hot to drink.  It felt like a bit of a cattle market.  Indeed, coming out of my latest casting, the actress I was playing against turned to me and said “you feel like an idiot, don’t you?”  And you do!

Nearly 90% of an advert casting is about look and feel, and an all-day casting might go through hundreds of candidates.  There’s an element of powerlessness about the process and that can be pretty demoralising.

But I still enjoy doing them and I learn from each and every one.  And the money for adverts is great, which helps.  I’m careful about which commercials I go in for – I’m not “wholesome hero guy” after all and I’m going to be wasting my time and my money going for those castings – but if the director wants a funny, geeky guy with a feel of vulnerability,… well, that’s me.

…..

A lot of people ask me if it’s a hassle to get up and down to London from North Yorkshire.  Simple answer: no, not really.

If I’ve a couple of days’ notice, I travel down by bus and stay with friends for castings.  If I’m given notice the day before I can be in London in a couple of hours by train – it’s more expensive but I’m happy to absorb the extra cost if it results in work.

The benefits of living in North Yorkshire, with its relaxed way of life, great countryside and lower cost of living, more than makes up for any inconvenience.

….

I’ll finish with a question: What was your quickest or quirkiest casting experience?  Let me know in the comments below.

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.

Out and About: Performing for the Queen (of Bentham).

Gracious, doesn’t time fly!?

Well I hope you all had a great bank holiday weekend.  Might I say, though, that while you were drinking Pimms from Union Jack plastic cups, I was hard at work!

No, not that terrible 9-5 stiff collar kind of work – that’s so 2010!  I was, once again, working with the wonderfully inventive puppetry geniuses at Rough Magic Theatre, who brought me on board for two Street Theatre shows to celebrate the Jubilee.

Some theatre types go all sneer-y at the idea of Street Theatre but I’m an equal-opportunity thespian: I don’t discriminate!  My job as an actor is to create characters and take audiences on journeys.  You don’t need a theatre stage to do that.  Plus, street theatre is tremendous fun!

First up was a brand new improv show called “Fred Fettler’s Pony 3000: The Transport of the Future!”, in which I played the eponymous Mr. Fettler – inventor extraordinaire.

It was a great show which attracted fantastic crowds of onlookers and victims volunteers.  It was described by some as “Monty Python meets the Goodies”, which is a pretty good description of the show.  Madness, it was: utter madness – in the best possible British tradition of absurdity.

The show took place over a day on the 2nd of June, as part of the Bentham leg of “My Last CarNival” – an event that highlighted a future without the motorcar, using art installations, music and theatre.

My second street show was an extension of Rough Magic’s “Alice in Wonderland”.  I took thier “Mad Hatter and the March Hare” puppetry rig on a tour around a mass Jubilee picnic.  I was even knighted by the “Queen”!  Images below.

I attended the inaugural meeting of the North Lancashire and Cumbria branch of Equity a couple of weeks back.  It’s a campaigning branch that has already been responsible for successfully lobbying the return of The Dukes Theatre’s Play in the Park show – before the branch was even official!

It’s wonderful to get involved with Equity.  Not only does it give you a feeling of community within the industry, but it also allows actors to take more control of their careers and opportunities.  If you’re an actor, I encourage you to join and get stuck in!

Image

“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.