Friday, 26 April 2013

Inspiration for Actors

What a great couple of weeks!
I attended Mel Churcher's 5 day course at the Actors Studio. I'll be blogging about the amazing-ness that is Mel very soon (as soon as I get back to my computer!).
However since then its been auditions and projects moving forward which is quite exciting.

But what inspired me to write this blog was meeting some lovely people on Mel's course, in particular a lovely turkish actress who is very successful in her career.
We were ended up chatting about how easy it is when you're working and auditioning constantly to get burned out and start to feel very uninspired.
No matter how lucky you are, how talented, how far your career reaches the burn out after a long television series, or touring theatre shows is not unusual.
I once had an acting tutor who talked about the post job lull, which begins from that last performance when you realise suddenly 'I'm out of a job' and then continues indefinately......
From previous experience I've come to realise this can last days, weeks - even years.
But its simple - you've overworked, put in everything you had and are now in need of INSPIRATION!

After sending these to some of the course goers - I realised I should share the links with all of you too. Spread the love and share the good fortune of loving what you do and doing what you love.

What: Inspiration for the actors

When: For when the industry gets you down and you feel like you've been chewed up and spat out and are not sure how to recover from the terrible gooey mess you are.

How: By following the links below adding a dose of meditation and relaxing away from industry goings on:

Wendy Braun
Sign up to her site and get a free audition meditation mp3 - its a bit cheesy but what she says really resonates. My favourite part is 'You are unique, no one can give the performance you will give' and then she quotes Martha Graham - which is on my inspiration board. (see quote below!)

Graham quote

My other go to site is:
he has some lovely inspirational words and affirmations you can paste onto your dressing room mirror, or onto your dream board. He also has some great books to read and is all about thinking positively and listening to your thoughts. Negative thoughts have so much power, so much sway that once I had an audition all I thought was negative thoughts for a whole 24 hours. I didn't even realise it until I meditated and started to hear that voice saying everything I feared.
Have a read of this:
He has some amazing testimonials -even Alyson Hannigan is a fan!

Gabrielle Bernstien:
And last but not least is my ultimate favourite meditations & talks (free!!)

from my inspiration Gabrielle Bernstein.
Reading her books and listenting to her talks and meditations everyday has really changed my attitude about myself and my work over the last 8 months. It's become my daily ritual to listen to a meditation on the train each morning (yes I'm always running around!), but its amazing the clarity and space I have in my brain after doing this.
If you're not sure, listen to Gabby's Creative Lecture (on the podcast link above), its amazing and inspiring. Hearing other women talk about their lives of being in service and forging their own paths. As creatives I feel we do this every step along the way so its lovely to hear how others are doing it outside of the so-called industry.

I realise that this post was more of an actor one, and so the next one I'm planning will be about both. But as a final side note - its actually very easy to see actors who walk into the room and are burnt out. When my producer head sees it, I veer around or away from them. Instinctively everyone else does too, with the inner knowledge that that burnt out person will come and chat to you, suddenly take over the conversation and make it all about themselves with some whiny sob story.
Yes thats harsh but haven't you experienced this before?
Yep - and haven't we all been there?
So next time that happens, hit them with some advice, 'Go out, leave this place my friend, its not good for you. Instead check out these links (or this blog), and dont come back till you're hungry, passionate and inspired to create. Then we can chat.'

Till next time....

Saturday, 13 April 2013

7 tips for surviving the film industry

Inspiring advice for actors and filmmakers, this was sent to me by a good friend and great producer Andrea Farrena
Original Link

Hitchhike a Thousand Miles: Oscar nominee John Hawkes gives seven tips for surviving the film industry 

Christopher Beyer/Contour by Getty

I’m an untrained actor with no formal education in moviemaking. I learned my trade by observing the work of others, reading books about actin and film, and through trial and error on sets and stages. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Trust your gut. Don’t guess what the audience wants. Tell the story you want to tell, the way you want to tell it.
2. All arts connect and inform each other. See theater, dance, music, and visual art; read great books. Be thrilled and inspired beyond your niche.
3. Loaf occasionally.
4. Make a vital life outside of the business. Travel, struggle, get a hobby, study, volunteer—gain perspective. This may indirectly benefit your work, as well. Hitchhiking thousand of miles, though I no longer recommend it, greatly enriched my understanding of people and story.
5. This business will knock you down. When it does, try to get up, dust yourself off, and take another step forward. And try to rejoice in the idea that you’ve found work that you love to do. Most don’t.
6. Be kind. Be brave. Be prepared. Work hard. Have a great sense of humor.
7. William Goldman famously said of the film industry that: “Nobody knows anything.” This may be true. I don’t know for sure.

Since making his debut in the 1985 horror-comedy Future-Kill, John Hawkes has become one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors, racking up close to 200 credits thus far. The Minnesota native has been a familiar face on the small screen, with starring roles in “Deadwood” and “Eastbound & Down.” He has stolen scenes on the big screen in films big and small, including The Perfect StormMe and You and Everyone We Know, and American Gangster. in 2011 he was nominated for an Oscar for his powerful turn as a meth addict in Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone. He’s appeared most recently in Lincoln, and Ben Lewin’s The Sessions.

Monday, 1 April 2013

What Inspires you?

When its quiet.....
Its a pretty quiet time right now for me, and things have been slow.  I've had quite a few commercial auditions, but not much else creatively.
Its in these times as an actor, that it starts to get tough.
In the past this time used to scare the crap out of me- well, actually that's a lie, its still scary - even big hollywood guys feel the same way.
Its that sense of quiet when you call your agent and they do their best to reassure you with 'its quiet for everyone right now dont worry!'
But the panic stations hit when you hear of your friend, or friends' friend or even the friends' friends' friend (whom you secretly dislike and is not half as talented as your little pinky) has landed that big commercial, or that role on Game of Thrones, or that indie film which has a great script and director and is bound to be a sure fire hit!

The panic stations are scary and the warning goes off in your brain in big red lights 'YOU'RE NOT SUCCESSFUL!' followed closely by 'You're not DOING ENOUGH!' and the craziest 'They're doing better than YOU!'

Thats when I have to hit the brakes - literally.

Withdraw from the craziness, and put a stop to this nonsense.  As a younger actor, I didn't realise what this crazy thinking does. Like a car skidding out of control you end up doing 360's on the freeway causing crashes left right and centre, sending friends running for cover and potential clients ducking.
All because you're underlying insecurities (and lets be honest here - we all have them), have risen like the swamp monster from hell to devour all and sundry in its path.

So hit the brakes, quickly cos that swamp monster is going to rise if you don't and no one wants to see that ugly insecurity rearing its head in an already overcrowded industry.
Then.....with much squealing of brakes (cos no one is perfect and I too have my moments of 'Oh God!') I stop the car and go for a walk.
The walking helps, as its an action, so I try to take an action of any kind - visiting the gym, getting back into running, walking etc. This gets the remaining stress and silliness out of my system rendering me too exhausted to let the monster out.

Then begin listening.......
Starting to listen to what is going on around me - after travelling through life at break neck speed (which yes I am guilty of). The amount of inspiration all around me, is staggering.
This morning for example I stumbled upon this talk by a model, I felt a bit silly clicking on it, but its a TED talk and I'm glad I did.
Cameron Russell: Looks aren't everything
Cameron talks openly and honestly about being a model, winning a genetic lottery and having a legacy of beauty which she fits and is lucky to do so. In many ways this talk reminded me of being an actor, some of us are gifted with a family legacy and lineage, others just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, or seen by the right person. But for many of us we struggle daily, and we have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will be able to make money from solely being an actor. Some brilliant actors I know who are talented and amazing, still struggle constantly.

Then my other inspiration comes from the people around me. I am lucky enough to have work that supports me and my creativity. I work also as a producer, and am constantly surrounded by exciting creative people.
I worked with Ben Jones DOP  last week who is currently off to make a feature in the wilds of Scotland, he gave me some great advice on different types of cameras - which Im always interested in hearing about (does the Black Magic work better than the RED or Canon C300? - send that debate to my producers blog!).
Then there is my amazing ex intern Producer Leena Salmela (just finished working with Director Noah Baumbach - SQUID & THE WHALE) who wants to collaborate on a short film together.
And exciting Producer's Bob Portal (Fidelity Films) & Christine Hartland (Patchwork Productions) , who have both inspired me this week with their wise words!

Then the other inspiration I've been listening to is free podcast talks by Gabrielle Bernstein. Amazing woman who is really changing the way I think about myself and my work.
You can listen to her free meditations and talks here: Gabby Bernstein

So taking some time out to get inspired again is brilliant.
And once you do, there is a realisation that its not all quiet time either. I find that I can put more things into perspective and really move forward with other projects.
For example there are two projects that my company Little Jade Productions have been sitting on for a couple of years. Slowly, growing, and progressing them.

So I've been determined to dust them off and finish them:

1. 8 The Series, which is a very exciting online series. (See the trailer)  The writer/directors and I are now working together on a redraft of the scripts. We had a great meeting with partner production company Ormaq and yesterday went on a recce to their new studios Black Hangar Studios where we will be filming!
( Yep I even got to see the water tank where Ewan McGregor got naked in for Salmon Fishing in Yemen).

2. Short film A Perfect Soldier, has suddenly come alight again. With some great help from potential executive producers. I went on a recce to London Film School's studio which looks perfect. So fingers crossed we start to move forward on the financing and pre production side.

Its exciting to be able to produce and act in projects that I find creatively satisfying. As an actor so often you feel powerless over the career choices you make, and working on projects that are great for the rent yet not so great for the soul is a bit destroying.

So if you're going through a creatively lacking period, let me know what you do to help you?
What do you find inspiration from?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and how you combat the internal swamp monster!
See you in two weeks time.....