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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Spring Loaded...


As the blossom tree buds brave the early-Spring cold, there’s a scent of promise in the air. It’s slow progress, but I’m moving forwards...‘Everyday I’m Hustlin’...so here’s a little Hustle Report of what I’ve managed to achieve in the past couple of months.

It was a great decision to audition for a play - an unpaid job at my friend’s fringe venue - Matchstick Theatre. A chance to flex my acting muscles and re-build my post-break confidence. I won the job and enjoyed the process and performances, which were warmly received.

An important realisation arose - that going forward I will no longer be pursuing stage work. Now I love theatre and I always will. 95% of my training has been for the stage- and (perhaps logically) 95% of my professional work.

But here at the start of my career whilst I’m trying to get a foothold, it seems the wiser option to pursue Film/TV which is by far the more popular, far-reaching medium. And where the money is!

Coming to this realisation has given me a wonderful clarity of purpose - I’ve since been dedicated to sharpening my screen acting skills, continuing Manuel Puro’s self-tape course to which I submit several audition tapes each week- a powerful discipline.

In turn I’ve set the important goal of improving my showreel - the most powerful tool that an actor has to win screen work. A showreel is a short portfolio clip - a selection of what projects you’ve acted on to-date. If a young actor is being considered for a project - their showreel is the first thing to be reviewed by the creative team.

If an actor is starting out and hasn’t worked on many projects they may consider paying hundreds hundreds of pounds to have a Showreel custom scripted and shot for them - from a company such as Slick Showreels. But as an aspiring filmmaker with my own kit - I’m set on making my own for free! Fortunately I’ve been getting lots of practice in lately...

Some great advice I got: the fastest way to get better at filmmaking is to get making films. Lots of them. Get on with quantity and don’t get stuck on quality. So in the past weeks that’s what I’ve done - shooting a varied mix of subjects/styles to get to grips with camera operation/editing...

 I approached a corporate mental health charity and offered to shoot event coverage:
I approached a contemporary dancer and offered to shoot her rehearsal to make a dance video:


I approached the organisers of a dance collaboration event and offered to shoot a promo video:



For experience of working on dramatic scenes I've been helping actor friends with ‘Self-tape’ auditions at my home studio. It was great to observe their work - understanding from a directing point of view how I can encourage their performance.

And last weekend I got together with a friend and filmed a two-hander scene - to be usable on my showreel. I made a few rookie mistakes and ultimately fell short of the professional quality I was aiming for. Turns out that camera operating a scene that you’re acting in is rather tricky!

Now the search is on to find more material and collaborating crew that will ensure high production value. To that end I’ve attended a couple of networking events such as ‘Cine Circle’ - meeting some great people to work with. Soon I hope to have an embarrassment of riches to edit my showreel from!

Finally - I wanted to make the pledge that I’ll be making my next blog post as a video post. Whilst I enjoy practicing writing - I have everything I need at this point to be making a decent Vlog - and I shouldn’t be missing any opportunity to work with my camera. So tune in next time folks!

Monday, 4 February 2019

2019 So Far...


Ah that New Year feeling of fresh beginnings!

Following my sabbatical search for meaning (and health) across the past couple of years I'm excited to be dedicating 2019 to igniting momentum in my acting career, whilst taking fledgling steps as a filmmaker.

Before Christmas I listed some specific tasks to complete in this direction (which you can find at the bottom of my last post here) and so I’ve decided to review my progress. Perhaps I'll try to make this a monthly habit.

#1 Home Studio Built

After painstaking research I managed to build my home studio -  gathering the following kit which in the right hands can shoot professional 4K cinematic quality film. (These hands of mine have some way to go yet!)

Tripod: Benro
Laptop: HP OMEN
Peripherals: Spare Batteries, memory cards, external hard drive

#2 Practicing the Craft

I enrolled in an online course in which participants must submit a self-tape (filmed audition scene) each day for 10 days straight. Here's a little excerpt from each scene for the lolz.



The course...entitled The Acting Habit is led by experienced casting director Manuel Puro. It was the perfect initiation into using my equipment, whilst getting on screen practice and feedback from Manuel and the other course mates. Highly recommended!

I booked a few workshops with casting directors through The Actor’s Guild - not exactly cheap at £31 a go - but a great way to gain insider’s knowledge and do a bit of acting for (and hopefully impress) a working professional who may audition me in future.

#3 Rejoin the Audition Circuit

With some recent acting experience under my belt, my Acting Portfolio Website completed and shiny new headshots taken - I was feeling as confident as ever to begin submitting myself for opportunities.

I’m directly applying for jobs on Spotlight and Mandy on the daily -the UK's two primary casting directories.

#4 Get Acting Work!

And lo and behold - I’ve won two acting jobs!  A play - this week - tickets available here if you fancy attending - and a filming job - portraying the anarchic musician Jimmy Cauty of the band KLF in a documentary feature about their antics.

Here's a little clip of me having fun on the first day of the shoot (which involved me chain smoking fags eurgh!)



It’s a wonderful feeling - following my recent confidence building steps - setting out my ‘acting stall’ - to be rewarded with some work. Now I’m hungry for momentum!

I’ve booked more workshops at Actor’s Guild - continuing the campaign to get seen by casting directors and I’ll continue The Acting Habit course online- staying match fit mentally and physically with plenty of exercise.

#5 Make Movies

Beside my acting goals I've been keen to put my expensive camera kit to work and get making short films! A couple of months back I took a half-day course ‘How to Make your First Short Film’ - the best tip was to focus on quantity not quality. Many filmmakers get stuck for years trying to write an epic original screenplay whilst shooting/learning very little.

So I jumped right in and invited an actor over (a fellow cast member in this play I’m in) - and filmed her in character doing some silly things - with the intention of editing the footage into an online trailer for the play. Masterpiece it is not, but it’s a start - and it’s been truly thrilling to be receiving warm feedback. Yay! I made a thing! Enjoy!



As a filmmaker I will be learning how to develop creative concepts, write scripts/screenplays, organise a team of collaborators...shoot, edit and release films. Being an actor, I’ll be able to perform in anything I make, which if successful will raise my profile, or in any case will create practice opportunities.

As a filmmaker I’ll be able to work on making projects with subject matter that is important or exciting to me. Actors generally serve someone else’s vision - playing puppet to their whim - how thrilling to dance to the sound of my own drum so to speak!

Overall I'm really pleased with what I've achieved in this past spell. Looking forward to writing again next month with further news of acting work and filming collaborations.