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.....


  1. Much like in your case, I find my inspiration is everywhere - in the smallest things. You're really right that it's about stopping to look and listen - to people on the tube and the beating of the wind against a motorbike cover; to other artists all around full of energy in the theatres, galleries, and your music playlist; to words and pictures in every book, magazine and flyer; and of course the endless loops of internet!

    Strangely though I find it impossible to look or listen when I am too tired, hungry, or depressed. Step one seems to be putting myself in a place of energy and only then I can open up to inspiration.

  2. I totally agree, sometimes its best to chill and decompress otherwise you cannot handle the overload!
    My favourite book The Artists Way - Julia Cameron, suggests going on a word detox for a week.
    No reading of any kind (even advertisments) so you get really hungry - for one week, and the following then reading as much as you like. I tried it and it was really hard but the following week I was full of inspiration!
    Thanx for the comment!