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.
2017 is nearly upon us, folks – in fact, by the time you read this, you’ll have just a couple of weeks left, until you are waving 2016 goodbye, and coming up with another New Year’s Resolution, that you’re probably going to break by mid-January. Statistically, most people break their New Year’s Resolution by January 17th. The reason behind this is pretty simple. 99% of people DO NOT know how to goal-set properly! If you’ve been saying, “THIS is going to be my year . . .” for the last decade or more – and that year has yet to actually be your year – this blog post is especially for YOU!
I got into strategic goal-setting back in 2014, and was fortunate to be mentored by one of the world’s leading authorities on productivity and high-performance, Michael Hyatt. After working with Michael and setting strategic goals, 2014 became THAT year I’d been saying I was going to have for so many years before that. I began to book more jobs than ever in my acting and voiceover careers, I got into the best shape of my life, I launched two new online businesses, cultivated some incredible personal and professional relationships, and tripled my income – pretty phenomenal all round really.
Casting Networks International are very excited to be guest curators in the upcoming programme at the Actors Centre, the UK’s leading organisation which supports actors throughout their careers.
We will be bringing a range of workshops Q&A’s and events to the Actors Centre in their January – March 2017 programme. In addition, Equity and the Actors Centre will also be presenting a series of events and workshops to highlight, explore and celebrate the importance of greater diversity in the arts, as part of the Equity Play Fair season. Most notably they will be hosting a panel discussion on casting and diversity which Casting Networks International are delighted to be a part of.
We will be hosting a number of events in the programme open to Actors Centre members, including an informal question and answer session with casting director Manuel Puro (Moon, Northern Soul), a how to self-tape workshop, plus a commercial casting workshop where actors will receive live feedback.
The programme will be launched at an exclusive Actors Centres members networking evening at the Actors Centre from 6pm on Tuesday 3 January. So if you are a member make sure you come along!
If you are not a member of the Actors Centre and would like to find out more, you can check out their website: www.actorscentre.co.uk
See you there!
In the studio
Congratulations! You have booked your job! This normally happens on the strength of your demo, the popularity of your sound, and a recommendation from your agent. Nine times out of ten you won’t receive a script prior to the recording and that can make you feel like there is nothing you can do to prepare. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you are ready to go. On the way to the gig, you should pick up a newspaper and read aloud. I also use signposts to read from on my way into the studio and I practice using the accents I know I will be recording in. You could also do a voice warm up at home or in the car on the way in. If you are on the train this is more difficult but not impossible to do some breathing work and articulation work.
Have you ever been on set and realised how much waste there is, that perhaps you should be making more of a conscious effort to recycle? Being green when it comes to media production is never straightforward, but there are ways you can help the environment – both obvious and not so obvious. Ad Green is a new initiative set up by Jo Coombes specifically for commercial production. We spoke with Jo to find out more about Ad Green, where it came from, and her hopes for the future.
Casting Networks: When was the moment you first stepped back and realised how incredibly wasteful and un-green the commercial industry was?
Jo Coombes: I first came to the realisation that I didn’t like what I was contributing to at the start of 2014. I’d read some scary articles about climate change, and couldn’t help but think I was contributing, simply by doing a job I loved – production managing on advertising shoots. The amount of waste we create in the name of being creative is obscene, but at the time I wasn’t sure what I could do about it. It wasn’t until a few months later when the niggling feeling got too much that I decided I should find out what related industries were up to, and whether we could apply what they’d learned to advertising production.
After another stellar run, JB Shorts 16 came to a close on November 12th, but not before one last performance to leave everyone gasping for air and clawing at their sides to stop them from splitting.
JB 16 was cast by Michelle Smith and played out at a brand new bigger venue at 53 Two, which is fast becoming a mecca for Manchester’s finest fringe theatre. It’s fair to say we at Casting Networks enjoyed the show, as always, and could not be more proud to continue supporting the event!
The night began with Magaluf, written by Sarah McDonald Hughes, in which we were taken on a farcical journey with Chloe (Amy Lythgoe) and Sinead (Hollie-Jay-Bowes) on their stereotypical teen holiday. I was reminded of a two-handed, modern day Bouncers and Shakers, due to the non-stop laughs and fast pace of the piece. A well-directed, wonderful piece of theatre, and a brilliant choice to open the show.
Second on, and the first of two classics of British literature broken down in to fifteen minutes of pure entertainment, was Toil and Trouble, written by Trevor Suthers. A truly original take on the story of a certain Scottish King who, for our own sake, is named ‘MacMeth’ (Peter Ash). Three terrifyingly hilarious “hags” steal the stage for fifteen minutes in the forms of ‘Mammy,’ ‘Granny,’ and ‘Fanny’ (Maria O’Hare, Jenny Gregson, and Jennifer Bray). With constant cleverly written filth throughout, and an energy on the stage that clearly stemmed from the great direction of Sue Jenkins, meant there was no respite for the aching jaws of the audience.
Casting Networks will be back at the 3 Minute Theatre in Manchester for our final FREE event of 2016 on 8th December.
Our special guest for this festive night will be actor Joe Duttine who currently plays Tim Metcalfe in Coronation Street. Casting Networks members will receive an email with information about how to submit for a chance to secure a ticket nearer to the time. (The event is strictly invite only)
Riz Ahmed in ‘City of Tiny Lights’
This week we were thrilled to catch up with Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto from NDF International, who has just produced the Toronto Film Festival screened City of Tiny Lights, starring rising star Riz Ahmed. Ado is no stranger to the time it takes from getting onboard with a film to actually having its big screen debut, and in this case, film festival screenings at multiple prestigious festivals around the globe. Here, we caught up with the producer to find out all the tips and tricks of surviving in this business for the long haul.
Casting Networks: So Ado, it’s been four years ears since you made LAST PASSENGER with Dougray Scott and Tara Tointon, which BFI, Pinewood, and Pathé came on board to help with. What have you been working on since?
Ado Yoshizaki: A variety of projects, some that were in development both before and during Last Passenger, and some new projects that we either initiated or were brought by directors. In the end, City Of Tiny Lights began to generate buzz and, through 2013 and 2014, became the focus of my efforts. Putting it together was like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle – it wasn’t easy and took years! I worked step by step, very carefully, to make those already involved feel more and more comfortable and, at the same time, bringing on top companies and partners, cast and creative collaborators, to generate and keep momentum going through to the magic moment when you close finance and are in prep.