Scene from new play, Blue Is For Boys, written by Melanie Hunter. Photo by Kaz Bielecki
This month Casting Networks sat down with Lennie and Louise, who run SundaySurgery, an in-depth, hands-on script development workshop for writers, actors, and directors. Participants are encouraged to be bold during this intensive process, where they say everyone should challenged. Let’s find out exactly what’s involved!
Casting Networks: Can you tell our readers exactly what SundaySurgery is?
Louise: SundaySurgery has been running since 2010 and is a development workshop for new scripts, held on the last Sunday of each month. Although we deal primarily with early career writers, we do have more established writers coming in to the workshop as well. The workshops are very collaborative; we get professional actors and directors to work on the script with the writers in a very intensive rehearsal improvisation process. During the workshop, we look at a scene or script excerpt (normally 10-15 minutes of script), and we encourage the actors and directors to be very bold. After two hours, the actors perform all the scenes to the rest of the group. Everyone who attends, whether they’re a writer, director, or actor, is able to use these performances as an informal showcase. We invite the industry professionals who attend our producer/director meet up, which is something Lennie set up, and participants can also invite their own guests. The number of people who attend the performances has really grown over the last couple of years, and we’ve now got a huge pool of 100+ writers, 100+ directors, and nearly 500 people we would count in our regular network.
On the first Wednesday of each month in Manchester, Liverpool, and now Sheffield, 80-odd film-lovers, makers, and socialites gather together to appreciate each others’ work. What started as a small social gathering has grown in to a multi-city, monthly, international film festival, and doesn’t look like it’s stopping there.
Split into two parts, the evening begins with a selection of ‘Short Shorts’—films 15-minutes-and-under are watched, and then voted for by the audience to win the People’s Choice Award. The ‘Feature Short,’ 15-45 minutes, is then shown before the night culminates in a Q&A with the filmmakers present on the night.read more
This year the CDA held their first ever award ceremony in the UK, and we were there to help celebrate and honour the work of casting directors. Over one hundred key professionals working in the industry attended the ceremony at the Crypt of St Etheldreda’s for a fun, packed night, which was judged by an independent panel of experts. On this year’s panel were Gabe Blair (United Agents Commercials Department), Matt Buels (Managing Partner, Hungryman), Steve Davies (Chief Executive, APA), Paul Gay (TV, Film, and Commercials Director), Ella Sanderson (Senior Producer, Partizan), Jason Solomons (Film Critic), Charley Stadler (Commercials Director), and Mark Waites (Founder & Creative Director, Mother).
The event was hosted by the incredibly talented and funny Sally Phillips (Smack the Pony, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who presented each award to the winners on the night (see list below).
‘Alpha Female’ is the brand new video from UK band Wild Beasts, produced by APA member Rumble and directed by Sasha Rainbow. We chatted with Sasha to find out where the concept came from and what inspired her to shine a light on the skater girls of Bangalore.
Casting Networks: Where did the inspiration come from for the music video concept?
Sasha Rainbow: For the Wild Beasts music video, I directed I tried to pull apart the song title Alpha Female and think about what it really meant. I wanted to use the video as a platform to celebrate women boldly going against the grain through affirmative, inspiring action, by following their passions; in this case, through skateboarding. The core message for me is ‘big change can start with just one person.’ The Holystoked Skate Crew and the girls that I worked with are an inspiration that cuts through age, gender, and class barriers. I wanted to commemorate this incredible moment in India.
Last month Manchester Actors Platform saw the return of #MAP48 for its second outing after a very successful 48 hour short film competition last year.
Casting Networks speaks with MAP and the team behind the Best Film winner “Am Dram.”
We would also like to congratulate LouLou Dayeh and Will Huntington, the winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress award, each awarded with a 12 month Premium account with Pro Services.
Casting Networks: Where did the idea for MAP48 come from?
Manchester Actors Platform: MAP48 sort of arrived many years ago as a crazy idea I had in London. Everyone had heard of the ‘24 Hour Plays’ and ‘Play In A Day’ type competitions and events, but there was very little out there for films. When I moved back to Manchester it was clear to see there was a massive film community from indie, grass-roots film makers to established teams. Having done a bit of filming myself and enjoyed the challenges of it, it seemed like a good time to complete the initial planning stages and get the beast up and running. The beauty of it being that, as was proven with thee awards this year, experience isn’t essential. This was key to us in structuring the event. Because some people have access to all the quality gear, we couldn’t let that mean that they were a shoe-in for taking Best Film, so we ensure that the decisions made are not about where the film is in HD! We also want to encourage people to try out new skills—this year, Best Writer and Best Director both went to people who were doing it for the first time!
McAuley & Walters
Since it’s International Women’s month (well, we had a day last week!) we were delighted when the female casting duo Aisha Walters and Anna McAuley of McAuley Walters Casting agreed to be interviewed to talk all things castings and “getting seen” as an actor. Both ladies worked for the legendary Shaheen Baig prior, and then went their separate ways. Then in 2016 they set up their new casting director company and the rest is history. Casting Networks got in touch to get the down low on all things UK castings.
Casting Networks: Firstly, Aisha, you came from working with Shaheen Baig for over six years, and Anna you were there for a number of years also. What would you say was the highlight of your time there working as a casting associate/casting director?
Aisha Walters: I’d say it was working with Shaheen. She was very collaborative and taught me so much about casting. Throughout my time there we worked on many wonderful projects, but it was seeing how she worked with the writers, directors and producers, and the different methods she used to find each cast that inspired me to become a casting director.
Anna McAuley: No particular highlight; it was great to get a thorough understanding of the process of casting for screen and the chance to work with some very exciting directors.
Casting Networks Manchester are very excited to have special quest casting director Jane Anderson join us on Thursday 30 May for our first FREE members event of the year!
Jane Anderson casts for both emerging & established directors. Before forging out on her own in Spring 2010 she had spent 6 years working with, and being guided by, some of the most respected casting directors in the industry including, as an assistant, Di Carling, Rachel Freck, Gary Davy and as a casting associate with Kate Rhodes James.
Her casting has been informed and is inspired by her life experience; growing up in a diverse family in London, a photography degree, 3 years in production in her early 20s, as well as travelling extensively and living in Melbourne for 5 years.
Jane Anderson’s casting ranges from comedy through to gritty dramas. She continually updates her knowledge of established and rising talent in order to maintain her innovative and fresh approach to casting.
Submissions are now open via the Casting Billboard!
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This week Casting Networks caught up with the folk at Outward Film Network (OFN), a Midlands and London based filmmaking organisation that boast support for low and no budget filmmaking. Their remit is to support all those filmmakers who can’t reach the general population because they just don’t have the funds or support. What a great idea. So here we talk with one of the founders, Matthew Simmonds, about what they offer, how they can help actors and filmmakers, and what’s coming up for OFN.
Casting Networks: So can you tell us a little about Outward Film Network and how it came to be?
Outward Film Network: The Outward Film Network was setup to support, produce, and promote films shot on a no/low budget. Heading Outward is Matthew Simmonds, David Woods, and Phil Slatter. We’ve been making movies (short and feature) and writing about film for over fifteen years.
Outward looks to embrace an approach to making film that’s often considered as being amateur or “student” filmmaking. We don’t think it’s beneficial to be catagorised, we can’t afford to compete with indie films (20k + budget), and to be catagorised as amateur creates an even greater disconnect. Influenced by movements such Dogme 95 and mumblecore, we like to discuss and make films that don’t fall into the “indie” or “industry” category.
After yet another smashing night of Manchester ADP’s supremely popular event ‘Scripts Aloud’ I’ve spoken to four of the key players: Jaki McCarrick, writer of the engaging and heartbreaking Bohemians; Kyle Walker, the sole performer in the emotional journey that is My Man (written by Kenton Thomas); and the two wonderful women who make all of it possible—Hannah Ellis and Diana Atkins.
We asked each of them the simple question:
How do these ADP read throughs benefit you?
Diana Atkins – Producer
Producing ADP is such a buzz. It’s really lovely to be able to create opportunities for people to do what they love. To see all the hard work come together at each show always leaves me on a high (I usually can’t sleep that night!). I’m an actor too and producing ADP has opened doors that probably never would have been open to me before.
The main thing for me is the community that it’s created. I’m relatively new to Manchester, and it’s been a really great way to make friends and get to know other creatives. ADP really does feel like a big family!
In class, I often refer to voice & accent work as the dance of the tongue. As an ex dancer, I like approaching sound correction as a series of muscular exercises preparing you for your text. Essentially, the voice is muscular, rather than a disembodied sound that happens to come out of your mouth somehow.
An accent requires a precision and placement where the facial muscles and resonance completely changes. Even your natural speaking voice will be far more developed by doing your breathing, release, and resonance exercises along with some tongue twisters. And all of those are muscular exercises.
Certain authors are very challenging with sound combinations. The goal is not only to get the sounds correct but also getting the thoughts flowing easily off the tongue as if they are your own. The change of rhythm and placement of certain sounds can be as difficult as moving between a waltz and a foxtrot and as awkward as watching a ballet dancer try hip hop.