Cast of Ruben Guthrie at ATC
The theatre is the oldest form of story telling, predating even writing and has always held an important kind of currency in the world. The theatre encourages and allows society to fully examine what it means to be human, acting as a kind of mirror to society and ourselves.
David Mamet said “the theatre is where people go to hear the truth.”
In our current political and global climate, the role of theatre, storytelling and ‘the truth’ is perhaps more important and necessary now than ever before.
So this month, I have been in LA. Its been a blast, I love this town. I feel like the air is full of hope and opportunity (if you’re willing to work for it!) I adore the fact that I can walk ten minutes to Runyon Canyon and go for an early morning hike or in spin class I’m seated behind a well-known actor who’s gasping as much as I am.
Every corner seems to have had a role in something. I even love the shrill of the constant sirens. The buzz is electric and intoxicating. On the flip side, it is a big town and it can be terribly lonely, I am so blessed to have some wonderful friends here but there have still been moments where I find myself asking ‘WTF am I doing here?’
The world is evolving. Machines are supplementing humanity, “ILY” is now an acronym for “I love you,” and life’s superficies defy authenticity. However, despite reality TV shows and matchmaking sites there will always be an indisputable characteristic no amount of branding can define.
Imagination is timeless. From enchanting fairytales to the midst of a Mancini overture, the fragility of life is poignantly reflected in storytelling. The artist who continues to take creative risks fuels our vision and is crucial in shaping the landscape of society.
“When you create great art the rest will follow.”
Luke Robson is the kind of filmmaker you can imagine one day quietly winning an Academy Award, then the next slipping invisibly back to work into teaching class or behind the camera.
“No matter what anybody tells you, thoughts and ideas can change the world”
– Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society
The world today is a precarious place with humanity at the immediacy of the media. The endless variety of news platforms submerges us in every glorified facet of existence; ignorance is no longer bliss when the ability to access information is expedited straight to our fingertips. With every click of a Facebook post and Twitter mention we are catapulted into the global perils of society.
Remember the film Clueless? Cher Horowitz depicted a modern day version of Jane Austin’s Emma in the coming of age comedy about a teenage girl and her friends growing up in the lap of luxury in Beverly Hills. Together the teenagers tackled high school, freeways, siblings, fashion and relationships in a much simpler world. Clearly, not everyone is as fortunate as the 16 year old Cher to grow up in a mansion with columns that “date all the way back to 1972” yet, the cult classic undeniably reflected the purity of a time when anxiety and terror were at an all-time low, with the latter barely even a flicker in our sheltered lives. Aside from Clueless being a favourite movie of my youth with its epic one-liners becoming a fixture in my adolescent (sometimes even adult) vocabulary, it also represented a happier time, a time when people seemed to be nicer – and not just sporadically either. One may say the film marked the end of the age of innocence when we had a “way normal life,” our only direction was “to the mall” and before the world became a “full on Monet” aka “just a big old mess.”
“This month, make a conscious effort to not apologise for yourself, in life or in the room.”
This month I’ve been thinking a lot about how I view myself and how that in turn affects my career and my performances. I’ve spoke about it before, but I’ll say it again, our minds are so powerful. What we think, we create. Belief and imagination manifest reality. The age of social media and filters has made reality, and the truth, malleable. We place extravagant standards on ourselves as a result of watching someone’s highlight reel and comparing it to our own. Who is honest anymore? It feels like everyone is buying social media followers, filtering their photos and giving that ‘perfect’ audition. It is exhausting trying to keep up.
I injured myself this month and have had to take it easy. Being injured really sucks; I hate not being able to give 100% but that’s what my body needs and I listen to it. I’m almost back to normal now, thank goodness, and I learned that when we get injured we need to listen to our body and let it heal. If we push against that pain and refuse to recognise it, then it’s going to start screaming at us and most likely, we will do more damage.
Have you ever been to an audition, walked out and asked yourself the following questions?
- What the actual hell am I doing with my life?
- Who even am I?
- Was that a practical joke?
- Am I the world’s worst actor?
- Would setting myself on fire in front of the casting director have been less painful than that casting?
If the answer is yes, then cool – SAME!
If the answer is no then congratulations, you’re a unicorn.
After reading that, it may come as no surprise to you that I have been to some pretty embarrassing auditions. I have been auditioning for professional work for many years and it’s only been the past 12 months I have come to better understand the beast that is auditioning.
“There’s something to be said for seeing someone go from working double shifts in hospitality 6 days a week to getting flown first class across the world to do something they love.”
Aussies in LA. For a relatively sparsely numbered, fairly chilled out bunch so far south that the next stop straight down is the South Pole, we certainly hold our own in the Megatropolis of Dreams.
What is the secret to this much touted Australian success in Hollywood? Is it training? Optimism? Opportunity? Work ethic? Is it positive subliminal conditioning from growing up in a society prizing, at least philosophically, ‘a fair go’? As our second year acting teacher, the indomitable Australian actor and director Mark Constable would cheerfully announce after we gave a particularly horrific performance: “well, you gave it a crack!” Without delving into a complex socio-cultural analysis, it is probably fair to say that Australian actors aren’t afraid to take risks. And it is certainly paying unmistakeable dividends.
Now there’s a new kid on the LA block and his name is Damian Sommerlad. Fresh outta Syd-city having filmed Australian feature Life of the Party starring Holly Brisely, Damian has worked in London, Australia and now is hitting LA with a vengeance — and he has some great ‘top tips’ for success.
The power of creativity.
“Virginia Woolf when starting out as a young writer described the curse of the phantom woman whose shadow used to watch over her shoulder as she wrote, the phantom insisting that Woolf mustn’t offend, that she shouldn’t let the world know that she had her own mind. Woolf killed that phantom woman with her bare hands. She had to.” – Felicity Wentzel
All artists have their phantom; actors, directors, writers, casting professionals, indeed anyone engaged in the artistic process, must wrestle the voice of fear and doubt in order to create. In such a subjective medium, often tackling life’s heavy-hitting moments, how do we overcome self-doubt to trust inspiration? How can art lend voice to stories that we feel deserve to be told? How can we use humour to heal and unite?
Tim Burke is set to make the biggest independent film of all time, Planet X: Gold of the Gods.
If Hollywood loves anything more than a box office success, it’s the emerging filmmakers who deliver the large-scale extravaganzas. In fact, a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter looked at the strategy of using highly creative first-time directors to helm their big budget blockbusters.
The studios’ faith in the rising helmer continues to be evident with the recent success of Gareth Edward’s Godzilla and Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, both breaking the box office with record figures, the latter taking in a monstrous $1.5 billion USD—pun intended.
In June 2016, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios hired Jon Watts to take over their beloved Spider-Man franchise on the strength of his minimalist thriller Cop Car, which was shot on the modest budget of $800,000 USD.