This week we speak with Sami from Signature Pictures, a London based production company that helps more young, unemployed creatives get real on the job training.
Casting Networks: How was Signature Pictures come into fruition?
Sami Larabi: Signature Pictures was formed in 2012 by our creative director, Jon Max Spatz. He had worked in the camera department on several Harry Potter films, but found himself unemployed afterwards. He went to the Jobcentre and told them that he would like to work in the creative industries, only to be told that there were no relevant opportunities available. Following this, he decided to create a production company that would offer this opportunity for others in similar positions going to the Jobcentre.read more
Casting Networks will be back at the 3 Minute Theatre, Manchester in June for our next FREE members event in our regular series of Industry Q&A’s.
Our special guest speaker will be announced shortly along with the date, and all 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. Make sure you have Casting Billboard email notifications switched on to receive the invite.)read more
On Tuesday, 16 May, the incredibly successful JB Shorts returns to 53Two and this year Casting Networks are proud to be a sponsor of the 12 night 6 x short play extravaganza! So what exactly are the magic ingredients fed into the mixing pot to able to brew the delicious stew that is JB Shorts?
We spoke with Peter Kerry about what happens behind the scenes of this successful northern series. So . . .
How does the planning process for a season of JB Shorts begin and how does it evolve into the finished plays we, the audience, eagerly look forward to?read more
If there’s one thing I’m seeing cripple actors’ success right now, it’s their fear of what other people within the acting industry might think of them. I use the word ‘might’ very specifically here, as most people’s fears are entirely fictional and never come to fruition.
In positive psychology, we term this phenomenon ‘Fortune Telling.’
Fortune telling is where a person presumes he or she can predict the future and outcome of a given situation. Most actors choose to opt for negative fortune telling and thus predict the worst possible outcome for their actions, life, and career. The amount of emails I receive asking me to proofread an email or a tweet, before it is sent to an agent or casting director, is ridiculous. In 99% of cases, what has been written is absolutely fine, yet the actor has decided to predict a disastrous outcome, where the recipient of that email or tweet hates what is written, blocks the sender, and thus never sees them for a casting or meeting.
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 the balancing act between being sensible with fitness vs unwarranted obsession.
John Byrne: In addition to working in the acting world, I have several clients in the music industry. While the myth that every road musician is a combination of Ozzie Osbourne, the late Lemmy from Motorhead, and all four members of Spinal Tap (including the self-destructing drummers) is as untrue as saying that all actors are like Stephen Toast. I have come across my fair share of wild men and women over the years.
This month Casting Networks interviewed Jaine Green, the Head of Festival and Chair of Judges at the discover.film awards, about how the indie film platform is changing how audiences can access short films for the better, and what she looks for in a great short film.
Casting Networks: Where did the idea for discover.film come from?
Jaine Green: Looking back, I can see discover.film was born out of a happy accident and necessity. Several years ago we made a short film called Cherry Cake, which did very well on the festival circuit, so we had fun travelling the world attending many of the major festivals. We were blown away by the quality of the other films and enthusiasm of the many filmmakers we met. However, the more we talked to producers, it became all too clear there was zero distribution opportunity for short films, which meant all this passion and talent was being thrown away. Few of us make a short film to become rich, but it’s ludicrous that there wasn’t even a platform for filmmakers to screen their work. We felt we needed to address this.
Sharon Sorrentino is a casting director unlike any other. Not only has she worked in marketing, been an assistant, an associate, and now a casting director, but she also wrote a book for actors on . . . well, acting and auditions! And the next edition of her book is due out soon via Troubadour Publishing. We got up close and personal with Sharon to find out all about the best ways for actors to approach auditions, and how to get seen in today’s tough environment.
Casting Networks: Sharon, you’re a casting director, you have been a casting assistant, and an associate, and you’re also a published author. How do you fit it all in?
Sharon Sorrentino: I don’t sleep. Honestly, I think we all make the time to do what we love. The working hours of someone working in casting, at whatever level, are extremely long—longer than actors or non-industry folk realise. If we’re not reading scripts and working on ideas for a particular project, then we’re at the theatre, or a screening, or watching telly to continually broaden our knowledge of actors.
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).