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.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve coached literally hundreds of actors on what it takes to set strategic goals, both inside and outside of their acting careers. If you missed my recent article for Casting Networks on that very process, check it out by clicking here. However, setting your goals is only one half of the equation here. To accomplish your goals, you’re going to need to find time to attack them—something many actors tell me they struggle with.
Do you often find yourself feeling very busy, but not very productive? We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun at all. You spend your entire day fighting mini-fires, doing menial tasks, and never actually get stuck into the things that you really desire from life. Well, in this article, I’d like to share 10 super-simple steps that you can take to literally 10x your productivity. Utilise these and you’ll not only wake up productive, but you’ll push your productivity to all new levels and beyond.
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, a BIFA, and Evening Standard British Film Awards’ Best Newcomer for his film London to Brighton in 2006, as well as BAFTA nominations. Paul then 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.