Tag Archives: UK

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.

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.

“Date Night” Filming and Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now, The News,….

This Tuesday sees me back before cameras, this time for the upcoming short film “Date Night”.

A near-silent romantic drama, “Date Night” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that’s sure to turn a few heads. I can’t give much away about the plot or my part in it but I’m really looking forward to playing a part with some real emotional clout. More news, links and juicy tit-bits from the set on my next blog post (probably in the next couple of days)!

Okay, I know you’re going to ask; no, I didn’t get that West End gig from a couple of weeks back. On the upside, the audition gave me a reason to write a new monologue for my Videotim YouTube channel (you can find it here) and the piece has been getting some great reviews. In fact, my agent, having seen the video, is now beating his way down new paths and knocking on a few storytelling doors using this video as ammunition. Always a good thing!

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my main profile image to the right and on my “About Tim Austin” page. This is in response to advice I’ve been getting recently about playing “to type”. It has occurred to me that my old image, while a slightly nicer shot, didn’t reflect my slightly geekier, odder character. It was, in short, too “leading actor” when I’m more a “lead villain” or “elfin” type. There may be changes to the written profile as well soon, with this in mind.

The eagle eyed among you may also have noticed that my Spotlight CV now houses a copy of my Showreel; this is a major step forward. Many casting directors search exclusively for profiles with a showreel so this opens me up to a much wider slice of casting network online.

On the subject of opening myself up to a wider audience, I’ve approached an online magazine with a view to becoming a columnist. I can’t tell you which magazine, as things are at a very early stage and they’ve not given me any green light yet, but it would mean “ActorTim” blogs becoming predominantly news based in future. Articles about my thoughts on the industry, interviews and reviews would appear elsewhere.

If you’d like to follow my progress and get regular updates about what I’m up to and where you might see me in action, please subscribe using the button on the right of the page. If you’d like to continue hearing my thoughts on the industry, along with reviews and interviews, stay tuned and I’ll have news on my journalistic ambitions soon!

Take care and stay frosty!

Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.

New VideoTim!

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

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

Enjoy!!

The Santa Tree by Tim Austin;

Henry V, Chorus introduction to Act 1 (Redux)

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

Parklife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Austin is an Actor and Theatre Dramaturg working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and read about his work as a Dramaturg here; http://dramaturgtim.wordpress.com

Of Pig Babies and Cheshire Cats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond that, I’ve not much to report.

Yet.

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

Till next time,…..

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.