Actors are born hustlers with their determination reflected in every waking moment. Thankfully, contemporary society has opened up revolutionary avenues for the ambitious actor to reach career objectives at the very fingertips of the aspiring talent.
Technology is a blessing and when utilised correctly can propel ones career to infinite heights. As actors we put much of our faith in online communities like Casting Networks International (CNI) to deliver their own performance as the go-to site for information about the industry including castings, blogs and seminars. At the press of a button actors and agents can submit interactive profiles complete with resumes, media and photos suitable for each respective job. Blogs and free seminars provide members with essential knowledge and networking opportunities.
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.
“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.”
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.
The Australian talent pool is a world-class arena, fuelled by a unique authenticity and a rigorous work ethic our actors continuously set remarkable industry standards. The recipe for success for these driven Aussies exceeds artistic brilliance, with intelligence and courage factoring into their triumphant international careers.
Born in Belgrade, Bojana Novakovic is a Serbian-Australian actress who personifies this method. With a sharp mind, contagious enthusiasm, and unquestionable talent, Bojana excels in all that she does. At seven years old she moved to Sydney where the gifted student attended The MacDonald College, graduating at the top of her class. Three years later she received a Bachelors Degree in Dramatic Art from NIDA.
Aaron Glenane as Michael Gudinski in Molly
“Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”
– Winston Churchill.
It was 1938 when Winston Churchill spoke these sentiments; the world was approaching a war that Britain would engage in for national survival. Yet, even on the brink of a shattering historic episode, one of the most powerful men in the world recognised the importance of the arts in defining it’s time and empowering it’s people.
Storytelling is fundamental to the preservation of civilisation; it reinforces a nation’s cultural and social interest, cultivating historical events which otherwise would dissolve with time. With each brush stroke and penned word, citizenries are enlightened to the melody of the times and the narrative of the creative visionary is ignited.
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle
It is only the beginning of 2017 and already humanity has witnessed both division and unity. We have watched the greatest super power of the free world change leadership, initiating a global movement, which has ignited the voices of the most influential people in the world. Their purpose alone empowers and motivates communities to develop ideas and engage in creativity.
The arts, much like civilization, is beautiful like that. With the stroke of imagination, the gift of a voice, and the power of character, we have the freedom to create work that echoes life’s gravities and the depths of the human soul. Things are never what they seem and the artist who benevolently portrays the boldest of parts with conviction is a powerful source.
Graduating from NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) in 2000, Socratis Otto has become a household name amongst Australian audiences. With his striking features and smouldering curiosity he has birthed some of the most distinguished roles to date on the Australian Stage, TV, and Film arena.
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’.
Nicholas Hope gives a brave and sometimes astonishing performance as the naive “wild child.”
– David Stratton, Variety
Nicholas Hope in “Gallipoli”
Pristine oceans, lush rainforests, majestic bushland, and enchanting deserts – this is the vast Australian landscape. In the words of the band Icehouse, the “Great Southern Land,” in all its mystical remoteness, has spawned the imaginations of some of the world’s finest storytellers.
There is no denying Australian actors are highly respected in the industry. With their strong work ethic and innate authenticity, they hone the craft with admirable conviction, endlessly raising the bar for their peers. Some join the glitterati of Hollywood whilst others blossom domestically – each journey equally enchanting, and the work beautifully understated.
Nicholas Hope is the quintessence of this, with his distinct features and glorious versatility, Hope first came to our attention in 1993 as “Bubby” in Rolf De Heer’s acclaimed feature film Bad Boy Bubby. The film was Hope’s first feature and earned him the Best Actor award at the Australian Film Industry Awards (now the AACTA Awards). Thirty years later, his career now spans Film, TV and Theatre with a surplus of distinguished credits including, The Daughter, Truth, Rake, Rogue Nation, and Gallipoli, along with performances at some of Sydney’s most prominent venues, namely The Opera House and Sydney Theatre Company. Nicholas is also an accomplished director, teacher, and writer, having written many profound works, including his 2004 memoir entitled Brushing the Tip of Fame.
From “wild child” of the screen to celebrated author, the exquisitely sincere Nicholas Hope is undoubtedly a true artist, a masterpiece who channels his talents in a multitude of ways solidifying his place amongst the influential creative Australian landscape.
“I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection”.
Success in any industry is challenging, yet when your chosen vocation consists of an enterprise built entirely on the lucrative world of entertainment, one’s obstacles exist in another stratosphere. Throw in the scarcity of Australian show business and you have yourself an audacious professional recipe.
Casting director Kirsty McGregor is the crème de le crème of the Australian film and television industry. Originally an actress, in 2001 her passion for talent ignited the birth of McGregor Casting in her modest one bedroom flat in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo. One year later, Kirsty’s strong work ethic was reaping the awards, and she opened her office in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore. Fast forward 14 years, 68 TV and Film credits, a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, a Casting Guild Australia (CGA) Award winner, and two time nominee for the Casting Society of America Awards, Kirsty now runs her business from a deluxe warehouse space in the chic suburb of Redfern – home to McGregor Casting since 2011.
With the grander space came the larger projects, and Kirsty has been appointed local casting director for Thor: Ragnarok, currently filming in Queensland, Australia and Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis and starring Joaquin Phoenix. McGregor first worked with Davis as lead casting director on his first feature film Lion. Starring Nicole Kidman, the film received glowing reviews at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2016 and is due for a USA release on November 25, 2016.
The dynamic team now comprises of six key players (including Ollie, a majestic Cocker Spaniel – aka the resident “Casting Dog”), and Kirsty’s determination has undoubtedly established McGregor Casting as a prominent fixture in the daily lives of local and international acting agents.
Here at Casting Networks, we are proud sponsors of the Casting Guild Australia Awards and can say wholeheartedly it is hard to imagine a time without the incomparable McGregor Casting. This year a plethora of CGA Award nominations have been added to their list and the winners will be announced on November 18, 2016. With nominations in seven categories, including Best Casting for a Feature Film, Best Casting for a TV Commercial, Best Casting for a Short Film, two nominations for Best Casting in a Telemovie, Best Casting in a TV Comedy and Best Casting in a TV Drama, it is evident that Kirsty McGregor and her troupe have sealed their place as Australia’s go-to Casting Agency.
On behalf of everyone here at Casting Networks Australia we would like to congratulate McGregor Casting and wish Kirsty and her crew the best of luck at the awards.
Alixandra: As a young actress why did you decide to take the leap from performing to casting?
Kirsty McGregor: I worked a decent amount for a young actor. I was very fortunate to work on some great projects and for some amazing companies and networks. But I realised that there’s no guarantee of “working your way up’.” I had actor friends who were AMAZING, the best in the biz, and selling wine in their 40s between gigs. I just decided that whilst I loved the industry, I wanted to find something for myself which didn’t depend so much on my exact age at any given time and what I looked like. I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection – I just wanted something more stable for myself.
A: Starting your own business certainly has its challenges. What are some of the obstacles you faced in the early days of your start-up?
KM: I was very fortunate to have some wonderful clients early on and friends who held my hand and gave me advice – like the wonderful Antonia Murphy at Fountainhead Casting. She encouraged me and made me believe I could go it alone. But we still face obstacles! And I still face rejection! Casting is still a very freelance job, like acting – there are still jobs we would LOVE to do that naturally go to other people. I think one of the greatest constant worries is employing people. We are a business, but still work from job to job. It could dry up at any time! You worry as much about your employees and making sure you can pay them as you do about yourself.
A: Describe a typical day in the McGregor Casting office?
KM: Can’t – sorry! It varies so much from day to day. And we like to retain some mystery.
A: What is some advice you can give actors on scoring a role and staying pro-active?
KM: Try not to think of it as scoring a role! Think of the audition as the job, not something you need to ‘get through’. If you can, come in with something to offer . . . come in and PLAY the role, don’t try and get the role. It’s a very powerful, positive, and refreshing way to approach an audition.
Ollie the Casting Dog
A: You have a number of exciting projects which you have been signed to, including Thor:Ragnarok and Mary Magdalene. How important is it for actors to have complete profiles on Casting Networks in order for them to maximise their chances of landing an audition?
KM: We use Casting Networks every hour of every day. I cannot express how important a tool it is for us. We brief on it, we book sessions via it, and we send every casting session to directors on it! Not only is it important for an actor be on the site, it is important to keep your CV and headshot UP TO DATE. We send a link to every director; they see ALL your information. What is the point of spending money on a new headshot (for example) and then not updating it so that directors will actually see it?