Welcome to His & Hers, in which an entertainment industry business advisor and actress/mentor give their take on the latest topics that come up when they’re mentoring and coaching actors.
This month John Byrne, an entertainment industry business advisor who writes for The Stage and coaches actors around the globe, compares thoughts with Angela Peters, actress and acting mentor with clients in the UK, LA, and AU, on the topic of Resolutions—and how you can make acting resolutions that actually count.
Every year, hundreds, perhaps millions, of actors sit down about now and plan their goals to take over the acting world. I’ve coached actors as they do it, I’ve received emails asking for support as they work on them, I’ve read the tweets and Facebook comments professing that this year will be different—and why not? The new year is about making resolutions and vowing to do things differently; it’s a chance to start again.
But what really counts are the goals that can actually be put into practise—the goals that are actionable, the goals that allow an actor to feel good about themselves.
Paul Andrew Williams is a British film writer and director who won Edinburgh International Film Festival’s New Director’s Award, Raindance’s Best Feature, and Evening Standard British Film Awards’ Best Newcomer for his film London to Brighton in 2006. He went on to receive a host of nominations for Song for Marion in 2012. Paul has since gone on to work on a number of British television shows, as well as developing and creating other projects. Paul joined Casting Networks this month to speak very frankly about the British film industry and how he has navigated his way to success.
CNI: You’ve been working solidly as a director for many years now, with London to Brighton being your big breakout directorial feature debut. How have you found it, going from film to film, as you’ve climbed the director ladder in the UK?
London to Brighton
Paul Andrew Williams: I would have to say that there has been no climb. I think I’m very lucky to have treaded water for such a long period of time. I have made four feature films and three television programmes. That is over the last 12 years, and in the time I wasn’t working on a particular project, I have been writing, with some projects getting further than others. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about certain decisions made, and how they have changed my path in both positive and negative ways. It’s definitely my vocation, so I will keep trying to do stuff that I feel positive about, and hope someone employs me.
CNI: Ever a fan of your work, we recently saw a domestic violence short you made called Do You See Her starring Tessa Peake-Jones, Phil Davis, and Anne-Marie Duff. How did that short film come about? And how did you get involved with the organisation Womansaid?
Off the corner of Deansgate, in the great city of Manchester, hidden away amongst the arches of old car showrooms, there seems to be an abundance of talented thespians making a racket. I blame 53two and it’s seemingly never ending schedule of events taking the fringe community in Manchester by storm in its maiden year as an Arts Venue.
After birthing its own night of fleeting theatre, ‘North South Shorts,’ then becoming a temporary venue to the old power that is JB shorts, 53two has now played host to Scott Devon’s poetically written When Both Sides Surrender.
The writing was described as Shakespeare meets A Clockwork Orange. I must start this review by conceding that I would not class myself as a fan of Shakespeare, however I am certainly a fan of Mr. Stanley Kubrick, so I had mixed feelings as I entered the theatre.
Richard Cooper and Kaeran Dooley should be proud, first for a wonderfully creative set incorporating a burnt out car, graffiti, battered steel, and decaying sofas that set the tone for the performance. Second, because these production aspects were matched in their quality by the costume and props, from the ‘trackies’ all the way to the police riot gear.
Robin in Rehearsal. Photo credit Pamela Raith.
“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”
Despite being in the relative spring-time of his career, producer Robin Rayner has already gained a reputation as both one of the most sought-after and best-liked members of the UK theatre industry.
Robin’s work spans the stage’s most grandiose heights (as of this month, he is the Associate General Manager of the prestigious Olivier Awards) to its most intimate, providing a platform for bold new work through his production company TREMers and a voice for independent artists by way of the provocative showcase Political Pageantry.
“To create something (however large or small) is a wonderful thing—to excite and inspire, contagious.”
Together with TREMers co-founder Tom O’Brien (currently Resident Director of West End hit Half a Sixpence), Robin seems to have mastered the art of theatre production and its delicate demands of successfully gaining Arts Council Funding, receiving 5-star reviews and multiple award nominations.
“Groundbreaking theatrical productions can be created through spoken word and the power of imagination.”
Happy New Year!
This is my favourite time of the year. Some people live for December—they love the carols in the shops, the Christmas lights, the parties, and the buzzy lead up to the holidays. Me, I adore January! The renewed zest with which we examine our health, dreams, and relationships excites and drives me. It’s like being given that new notebook that is pristinely blank and waiting for you to create whatever you desire on its pages!! (Am I the only one to get excited about a visit to Officeworks?!)
Self-evaluation and goal setting should not be confined only to the start of the year, but it feels great start a new cycle off with fresh intentions, goals, and loads of hope and determination. I take an hour and write down everything I’d like for my year to hold, where I’d like to be, and what I’d like to release, etc. I encourage you to do the same!
On the other side of things, I definitely enjoyed myself over the holiday season and will be looking at getting my body back to tip top shape for the upcoming year as quickly as possible. It is imperative as actors to be ready to go always.
Check out my tips and the Bust your Butt workout vlog below.
It is said belief and imagination manifest reality—supplement this formula with an infectious enthusiasm, plus a rigorous work ethic, and you could very well find yourself building a vision and executing a dream.
Finding one’s feet in any profession is challenging, and the Australian film and television industry is no exception. Success is often measured by the notion of ‘right time, right place’ and the saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is infamously heard amongst the creative masses, who are often inspired by an itch that feverishly needs to be scratched.
Brian Cobb, Founder and Creative Producer of Cobbstar Productions
Fueled by heartfelt conviction and enthralling intuition, Brian Cobb, founder and creative producer of Cobbstar Productions, is one of Australia’s liveliest up-and-coming film and television producers. Cobb, originally from Canberra, had a hankering, which led him to Sydney to study Acting at the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art (AADA). After graduation he toured the country in many theatrical shows and starred in a number of short films, as well as a four-year stint as acting teacher at AADA. However, his behind-the-scenes fascination began to surface, and Cobb was accepted into the prestigious Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) where he studied Producing and Screen Business. Once completed, a surplus of opportunities materialised for the passionate alumnus, and in 2012 and 2013 his two short films The Last Match and The Advisor were selected as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s ‘Cinemas Des Antipodes’.
“We have plenty of matches in our house.
We keep them on hand always.
Currently our favorite brand is Ohio Blue Tip,
though we used to prefer Diamond Brand.
That was before we discovered Ohio Blue Tip matches.”
So begins Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s newest film about a bus driver/poet named Paterson living in Paterson, NJ. Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) plays the titular character, with a superbly nuanced performance that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. The poems used throughout the film, all written by real-life poet Ron Padgett, are elegant, understated, and almost dreamlike. Paterson is a beautifully told, intimate story that contemplates the poetry that exists in everyday life.
The film opens on Monday morning, as Paterson wakes up next to his sleeping girlfriend. We watch as he goes through the course of his day, which includes writing poetry, driving a bus for the city, spending time with his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), unenthusiastically walking his girlfriend’s dog Marvin (Paterson does not like Marvin), and having a drink at his local watering hole. After Monday concludes, the movie continues to take us through a week in the life of Paterson, the ups and downs, the victories and defeats, the poems.
Casting director Jeff Gerrard was kind enough to join us for our pre-holiday seminar on December 17th. Considering the fact that LA starts to look like a ghost town as the holidays approach, we were very grateful to get him.
1. Social Media: The New Normal?
He wasn’t terribly happy to give the answer and no one in the audience was happy to hear the answer, but the fact is that yes, in some cases your social media presence is taken into account when casting. It’s just the reality of the changing age, so get savvy with those profiles, people. However, don’t just start following a bunch of people, so that they’ll follow you back. This drives me nuts. If you follow 10,000 people, then no, I am not following you back.
How can you be the happier actor? Possibly the happiest actor on Earth? (Planet domination of joy may be theme park hyperbole.) If we’re to believe Irving Berlin, show people are deliriously happy—branded so in his jaunty show tune lyric, “There’s no people like show people. They smile when they are low.” Possibly the only show “people” who match Berlin’s optimism are the saccharine animatronics singing at Disney’s Its A Small World.
Actors endure more rejection per week seeking temporary employment than does a “civilian” hunting for permanent employment in a month. That’s a lot of lows at which actors are to smile (thank you, Mr. Berlin). Yet actors push forward, actors seek coping skills, so as not be mired in the debris of rejection. The happier actors rise above the pile of dismissal. Atop the carnage, actors look out on to the horizon for what’s next. How do actors keep their smile while facing adversity?
1. Equalize Auditions
Equalize all auditions with the same goal and manner of importance. Stressing more importance on one audition over another places unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety on the actor.
All auditions offer individual opportunities for actors to show their skills with a spirit of fun—a period of control the actor owns. When placing all auditions on a level playing field, the lifelong career process of auditioning is no longer intimidating or a cause for worry. The audition is but a cog in the wheel of effectively pushing forward the machinery of the actor’s industry.
I imagine getting a new musical ready to be Broadway-worthy is a challenge. There’s a long list of things that need to be great to feel really good about a musical. Book, music, lyrics, choreography, cast, set, etc. Amélie, A New Musical made its debut at the Berkeley Rep with the Ahmanson as the next, and last, temp home on the path to Broadway. I think Broadway audiences will be grateful for the additional LA pitstop and the opportunity to check off a few more boxes on the list of musical must haves. Unfortunately, it’s a little sparse at the moment.
I’m not sure I’ve met a person who has seen the 2001 French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant who didn’t fall in love with it. I loved it. I also couldn’t tell you anything about it other than it was magical, REALLY magical, and that I loved Audrey Tautou. The magic hasn’t quite made it to the stage, certainly not at the film levels we are all hoping for, though Phillipa Soo as Amélie has the Audrey T. look and feel (not to mention a great resume with the wildly popular Hamilton right at the top), but just doesn’t fill the shoes . . . yet.