Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Actors' Gotta Eat

As glamorous as it may seem, it's actually difficult being an actor. You must be free and available and ready and waiting for those impending auditions and castings… Waiting being the operative word here.

A good friend of mine has decided to ‘Make It In America’. They will fly out to L.A for pilot season in January, partly because they felt nothing was really happening work wise for them in the UK. The result? They have filmed a commercial and a Feature Film with a very notable director in this past week alone. Typical! They are landing jobs just as they're about to leave the country!

It’s the same feeling we have as actors if we take on a fulltime job; will we get castings and be unable to make them?

It is very rare to find a non-acting job that is entirely flexible. Some employers start out with good intentions saying you can have the time off when needed but then when it comes to the crunch they cannot spare you the time. “What about temping???” I hear you say: Well temping jobs may not work out as you give your availability in advance, and you may get last minute auditions so you won’t know in advance. So once you have a contract you can’t not turn up as you’ll be deemed unreliable, and the agency may not use you again.

I do know of a company that employed two actors on a job share so whenever one had a job the other would cover. I spent sometime there myself; the people there were great. However circumstances changed and they now employ one full-time non-actor.

I understand why once an actor get a regular acting gig, say in a ‘soap’ or musical, they find it hard to leave, as they won’t know where their next cheque will come from and at least the work is career-related. If we are actors by profession should we have to work ‘other’ jobs? The sad truth is the majority of the time the answer is Yes, if we want to eat that is. Typically the big paydays are few and far between, but those bills still need paying and aren’t going to wait for that lucrative commercial to come through.

However, most actors do manage to juggle the money job and the career just fine. But does for example working nights and weekends or being known as an office worker or waitress leave them feeling demeaned?

There are also many people who spend good money training at Drama School or University to then give up on acting because they can’t give up the security and regular income of the 9 to 5.

All I know is I’ve wanted to act for as long as I can remember and so help me I will not fall into that trap. Things come along to keep my head above water and I can concentrate on the things that matter to me most.

There is a saying that goes something like this: Everything You Do in Life Will Either Move You Towards Your Goals or Take You Away From Them, Nothing is Neutral.

Here, here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Look, Its Me at the Carnival!

Monday, May 29, 2006

My Casting Advice

I have been asked by rookie actors about my experiences of castings so here are a few pointers I think are useful:

Without stating the obvious, if you haven't been to a venue before make sure you get there in plenty of time of your appointment; physically go to the place so you know where it is, then find somewhere for a coffee. Tardiness is seriously frowned upon and seen as unprofessional.

The Casting Directors may ask you many questions like:
What have you been doing recently?
How did you find drama school? (Do you do further training?)
What do you see your casting as?
What's your perfect/ideal role?
What did you last see at the cinema/theatre?
Which medium do you prefer: Theatre, Musical Theatre, Television or Film?
How would your best friend describe you?
Why did you become an actor?
Did you have a good journey today?

Literally hundreds and hundreds of possible questions!!!

It is an idea to re-read your c.v to refresh your memory before going in as they may ask you about credits which you did many months ago.

If you are going for a general (this is when you are not up for a specific role but they want to meet you anyway); it is always a good idea to prepare a monologue which suitably represents you, it is also likely they will ask you to sight-read.

If you have been sent a script beforehand make sure you have learnt and prepared it inside-out, having made a choice on how you will present it (which is fully directable). If the script is not available until before your appointment then always arrive early with enough ime to look and go through the script, again making directable choices on how you will do it during your casting.

They may ask whether you have any questions for them. Always say Yes!!! However, do not ask questions for the sake of it; make sure you really want to know the answer! And if they don’t ask you then ask them something anyway! The principle being if you are interested you will always want to know more. It is always an idea to find further information about the project/person/company you are meeting and with the wealth of information on the Internet this isn’t very hard.

If the part requires an accent, many believe you should go into the meeting from the start with this accent so that the casting director believes that is your natural tongue. I guess there are cases for and against this, but personally, I wouldn’t recommend it; See my article “If They Want You They Will Have You” below. It is not an idea to try to hoodwink your potential employers.

The best piece of advice I can give is: Be Yourself - clich├ęd I know, but it really is the best thing you can do. You will do that so much better than trying to be something you’re not then adding a further ‘character’ on top of that, after all, You are the original You! Of course you may be nervous but nerves, channelled correctly, can be a good thing as it gets the adrenaline going and truly focuses the mind.

The casting director essentially wants to see a relaxed, alert and coherent individual who can hold a conversation, present themselves well and be able get along with the rest of the cast and crew whilst doing a great job in a pressured environment:

They want to feel a sense of confidence, a feeling of self-assuredness and a certainty that there is no other candidate who can do the job better.

Are they asking for the earth? Not at all!

Look, It's Me With My Cheeky Smile!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Me On The Web

Below is a link to the BT Business Website. I filmed a corporate film for a new product called BT FUSION. Click the link below then press the 'View Video' button to see me in action... Enjoy!


Look, Its Me All Psychedelic!!!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ou Dans Le Monde? PC Monde

I recently filmed a commercial for a well known computer store which aired on national television and satellite channels. I am surprised at (a) the level of interest it has generated, also (b) the shock people experience when they see someone they know on television. I suppose there is a difference between someone expecting to see an acquaintance/friend/loved one on a certain programme, at a certain time to when they are just innocently watching television, minding their own business when... Puff! On comes their sister, ex-girlfriend or colleague. I guess then they are allowed to be a little miffed!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'm Also Computer Generated!

Look, Its Me - in CGI!!!

I play the character Mzuri in the forthcoming CGI Feature Film 'Monsters of the Id'. I have a cameo role and had great fun doing the voice for the character. You can find out more about the film at http://www.monstersmovie.comCheck it out!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

If They Want You, They Will Have You

Many actors receive coaching to put additional skills onto their resume; like stage fighting, accents and dialect, all in an attempt to improve their chances of work. This is all well and good but is it entirely necessary?

Depending on the budget of the production if a part requires further skills then you will usually be trained in them - generally to a standard satisfactory enough to get the right take.

There was an incident a short time ago where a little girl, who only knew two phrases in French, bluffed her way to a young lead in a major Hollywood film. When the charade was uncovered did they replace her? Non!
The well known director merely ordered she have French lessons.

My best friend won a part in a musical in Germany though he didn’t speak the language. Was this a problem? Nein!
They taught him German!

I myself recently went for an ad casting which called for a knowledge of tennis. The role required me to perform a serve - and trust me, me and balls do not mix!

Never played the game? But got the look they want? Is this a problem? “You cannot be serious!”
The morning of the shoot they simply gave me tennis lessons! My coach was great and taught me everything I needed to know to deliver the perfect serve and that was it. That was all I needed to know.

So the next time you’re on the courts and see a fit, agile athlete give a serve that would have Serena standing behind the baseline, then that’ll probably be me… Just don’t expect a great return!

Look, Its Me Centre Page! Yes That is Danny Glover

Francesca Marotta - The Designer of my Dress

Monday, February 13, 2006

Acting Training Is For Life, Not Just For Drama School

“Oh I’ve been to drama school so I don’t need to train anymore.”

“I’m already a working actor so why do I need to train?”

These are just a couple of things I hear from my fellow actors when I tell them I do class twice weekly in the Meisner Technique. In America, actors tend to value the need for continuous training throughout their careers more than British actors do. This may be because most ‘methods and techniques’ were created there.

Don’t get me wrong doing any old class won’t necessarily improve your acting skills. There are many courses out there promising the world (usually for a very high fee), also countless ‘Workshop Junkies’ are prepared to do these courses with no regard to cost or actual transference in their career. So pick your courses carefully. Check reviews and recommendations, look at successful graduates of the course. Do your homework.

Then there are the teachers who teach acting methods which inadvertently make the actor dependant on the teacher, so each time they audition, get a new job or just to get out of bed in the morning they need their teachers support, advice and confirmation to do so, thus creating actors who lack independence and confidence.

For me class works. I’m not saying that I’ll do it for ever but I will continue to do things that benefit my career, keep me in check and on my toes; be it short or student films, role playing or play readings. So when it comes to actually working on the big budget stuff you will have the confidence, knowledge and skills to do your job as an actor to the best of your ability. Here’s to a fabulous career! X

BTW I recommend The Actors Temple for courses in The Meisner Technique plus other useful and beneficial classes. Click the link below for further information.

The Actors Temple

Look, Its Me In Action! Production Still

Reading Recommendations

Here are some books on acting technique that I find extremely useful:

  1. Acting In Film: An Actor's Take on Movie Making - Michael Caine
  2. A Practical Handbook For The Actor - M. Bruder, (L.M. Cohn, M. Olnek, N. Pollack, R. Previto & S. Zigler)
  3. Sanford Meisner on Acting - Sanford Meisner and Dennis Longwell
  4. True and False: Heresay and Common Sense for the Actor - David Mamet

These books are not listed in order of preference. Many are based on the Meisner Technique so you may not have the full picture if you are not familiar with the practice. All can be found at Amazon, click the link on the right for further information.

Look, Its Me In Colour!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Actor or Actress? That is the question!

For as long as I remember I have wanted to be an Actor, yes Actor, not Actress. To me 'Actress' sounds a bit flowery "Hi my name's Claire and I'm an actress" No. My name is Claire and I am an Actor.

I remember attending an industry party with directors, producers, writers and the like. A woman in her mid-forties inquired into what I did for a living. I informed her I was an actor, "An actor!" she exclaimed, "You mean actress?" You are a women therefore you're an actress”


Yes it is true I am a woman but that does not mean I have to be a 2nd class citizen. Call it feminism, equal rights or whatever but a female doctor is a doctor not a doctress, a female lawyer is not a lawyeress but a lawyer so… I think you see where I’m coming from.

I admit I do fancy the occasional feminine reference, sometimes its nice to be a bit girly!