Author Archives: Matt Simmonds

#16 Interview with Scott M Wagstaff

Scott Wagstaff Interview with Outward Film NetworkScott Michael Wagstaff is an actor born in the West Midlands. After growing up in Wolverhampton he dived into the world of Musical Theatre training in Leeds & London – furthermore working on tours around Europe, Cruise Ships & shows around the world.

Scott has also appeared in various independent films, including The Time Of Their Lives featuring opposite Joan Collins and 6 Days featuring opposite Abbie Cornish.

Scott continues to develop his own projects alongside auditioning and is represented by leading talent agency Mondi Associates for the London, LA & NYC & markets.

What or who was it that inspired you into a career as an actor?

I guess I’d be expected to say De Niro in Taxi Driver, Brando in The Godfather or Pacino in Scarface and those guys are very inspiring acting geniuses & I’ve learned a lot from watching them. However, if I’m going to be super honest I’d have to say my Mom was the person who inspired me to be an actor. She was quite the entertainer herself, full of life, love, fun and certainly kept me interested in the arts in my youth.

What inspired me to be an actor is presenting an innate ability to feel and furthermore putting that message out to audiences locally and worldwide that as humans we need to feel and it is ok to. A message that resonates with me most right now off the back of the ‘what got me into acting’ is exactly how Viola Davis said it in her Oscar speech this year:

“I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” – Viola Davis – Oscars 2017

That is exactly how I feel and have always felt about acting.

Are there any actors that influenced your approach or style?

I’d say James Galdolfini, may he rest in peace. Watching James gave me a great sense of what it is to be vulnerable, even in those ‘tough Italian mob’ roles there is a beautiful truth present in him. He was always human. Always himself. You can see a main with pain, joy, rage, love, seduction, literally everything and anything the moment asked of him in any performance he had to deliver. He taught me what it is to be rather than what it is to ‘act’.

What’s the best bit of acting advice you’ve been given?

Definitely from Anthony Meindl (AMAW Studios) – that acting isn’t acting, it is being. It has to be me in the situation not a ‘character’ because if I’m playing a character then I’m most likely playing an idea. If I’m playing an idea then I’m not truthfully giving myself over moment to moment within the circumstances handed to me. I’m removed by an idea of it being ‘someone else’ other than me. It has to be me. How am I in an argument over betrayal. How am I in a game of seduction and so forth. Then character is built by the audience watching me on screen in those situations with a different name and attire but it’s still me!

Yep. Still feels the best advice to date. It helps me to trust me and the people I’m working with all at once to know that.

Scott playing role of Izaak in Final Reflection 1

Scott playing role of Izaak in Final Reflection

What do you look for in a director?

Someone with a clear vision but with an openness to discovering the unknown, oh and a lotta heart! It’s really exciting to meet a Director who can visualise their creativity and can talk about their vision in an awe-inspiring way, but even more so when they admit that when rolling into production it could change. That sense of openness is important to me, it also tells me they understand actors as we all prep but then let go & have to discover our journey as it’s happening, we can’t predict the future, such as life.




What do you look for in a script?

Humanity. I’m currently filming a sci-fi where the top layer is essentially about a man who unwillingly got passed on the ability to heal with his hands. However, all the themes within the film including the healing of hands were symbolic and all connected to a father letting go of the death of his 11 year old son. Don’t get me wrong, I love action, sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, myth all that stuff, I mean hand me my cape and I’ll meet you on set! However, when there is such truth embodied within those genres that tug at the heart strings then those are the scripts that get me.

How did you find the experience of working on Time of Their Lives alongside actors such as Joan Collins and Pauline Collins?

Such fun! It was all too short lived that film. Joan and Pauline are such great artists to work with, they give you everything, even in the smaller moments they are fully there ready to deliver and willing to collaborate with you. Joan started improving with me on a couple of takes, we had just had fun, that’s all there is to it and I believe Roger Goldby is probably one of the nicest men on the planet.

Time of their lives

In addition to Time of Their Lives you also worked on the psychological horror The Dare directed by Giles Alderson. Having worked on two very different genre films, do you find working in different genres develops your ability as an actor?

Absolutely. That’s the great thing about working in different genres, the situations can become more radical in which you’re placed in & that helps growth occur. I truly believe as an actor it’s important to accept that I am everything, every part of me is available with no judgement so there isn’t any genre, role, situation that I’m unavailable for.

Is there anything you’d change in the film industry?

More film investors for more films to be made please!! 😉

Scott playing role of Gwilym in Pendulum

Scott playing role of Gwilym in Pendulum

What’s next up for you?

I’ve just finished up on a lead role in a sci-fi film then onto shooting a Major Guest Lead role for Doctors BBC next week. I also have several film projects of my own in development that I’m continuously working on around jobs/auditions also.

What advice would you give to any young actors starting out?

Any way you can. Literally any possible way. Just find a way to truly embrace who you are. Find yourself and take ownership of self. Don’t be apologetic. Be unapologetic for who you are because that is what everyone in this industry is truly interested in. You. Goes the same for your acting work, if it’s you in the moment then there is no question. Keep digging deep!

You can find Scott via the links below 

Website: http://www.scottmichaelwagstaff.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/scottmwagstaff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScottMichaelWagstaffOfficial/

Films Seen By Outward

 


 


#15. Lara Lemon Interview – Actress

Lara Lemon interview with OutwardAward winning actress Lara Lemon (SIFF Best Actress in a feature & Chelsea Film Festival Best Supporting Actress – Off-Piste – Jack in the Box Films) is experienced in film, TV and Theater.

In our interview we discuss Lara’s inspirations, experiences and her approach to working in film and on stage.

What or who was it that inspired you into a career as an actor?

I always loved being on the stage but as I was a painfully shy child, I only ever really played statues in school plays (true story). It was only once I’d joined a youth theatre at 17 that I seriously considered a career in the business. I have my parents to thank for being hugely supportive too.

Are there any actors that influenced your approach or style?

I’m forever seeing performances that make me feel a mixture of pure inspiration and ‘well, I could never top that’! I have a theory about the actors I love watching; I believe you can tell when an actor loves what they are doing as there is a sense of play. Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Helen McCrory, Denise Gough, Kate Fleetwood, Billie Piper, Julie Walters, Maureen Beattie, Zawe Ashton, Olivia Colman, Parker Posey, Daniel Mays, Rory Kinnear, Leonardo Di Caprio, Stanley Tucci. I know I’ve missed so many actors off this list but it’s a start…

What’s the best bit of acting advice you’ve been given?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented actor and directors who have shared invaluable advice. Most practically it would be learn your lines for auditions. But more personally, be honest and take risks are the pearls of wisdom I try and live by. And I love this quote from Gustave Flaubert – “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work”

Lara Lemon Interview With Outward

What do you look for in a director?

Sensitivity and honesty. I want to be challenged by a director to bring out the best work possible and if something is not working, I’d like to be told. We are all, after all, working towards the same goal: a great final product. For me, sensitivity in a director is important; to the script, to the cast, to the crew. I’ve worked with directors who have been dictatorial, bordering on bullying, and I’ve always felt like they haven’t got the best out of people. Trust throughout the team is important and this comes from the director.

What do you look for in a script?

A great story told well. I am often sent scripts to play ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the wife’, and it can grow a bit disheartening to read parts where the character’s only purpose is to serve the man, but saying that it does appear there is a movement towards more rounded female characters in the industry. I have been lucky enough to work with some wonderfully talented film makers who are helping this shift.

You career is on the rise, with Best Actress awards on the festival circuit for ‘Off-Piste’. Would you like to discuss your career trajectory and how has it affected your creative life?

‘Off-Piste’ gave me a great platform and I’m over the moon with the awards – more than anything, it was such a confidence boost. However, I’m still working hard to secure projects I want to work on. I hope that I continue to work on exciting and challenging projects, film and stage, with as many talented people as I can.

You are a big supporter of fringe theatre and the no-low budget aspect of that arena is comparable to zero budget film. Having experienced both, would you agree with this and do you think, to allow creativity to flourish, there needs to be an attitude shift towards viewing zero budget filmmaking in the same bracket as fringe theatre?

I believe that collaboration in this industry is hugely important – not only are you able to practice your craft (whether it be acting, directing, designing, cinematography etc) but you are able to meet and work with like-minded individuals and build a network. I do think that fringe theatre and the no-low budget film industry have similarities and both face similar challenges. Unfortunately people are easily exploited in this industry which is giving true collaboration a bad reputation. It’s important to know your worth and recognise what is worth your time. I am hugely grateful for experiences I have received from fringe theatre and low budget films (‘Off-Piste’ was made for a mere £25,000!) but I’ve become a lot pickier when it comes to these projects.

What are the different challenges you face, comparing theatre to film? Do you have a preference?

I couldn’t choose one or the other – both come with different disciplines. In theatre voice is key. You need to share the story truthfully while being heard by 800 people each night. There is also the pressure of getting it technically right each night – you have no editor to make you look better! But then the beauty of stage for me is that you can return to the world and scenes night after night to try new things. Having an audience in front of you is energising and running through the play in one go builds a momentum which certainly helps with the character journey. Plus, you have the luxury of three weeks rehearsal. Filming in a non linear fashion and starting & stopping scenes are aspects of filming I find challenging, but in comparison to theatre, I love film because of the collaboration between different departments.

Lara Lemon Interview with OutwardWhat’s next up for you?

I’m back into the world of theatre for a while on a tour of ‘Strictly Murder’ by Brian Clemens. It is directed by Brian’s wonderfully talented son and film maker, Samuel Clemens, and we will be travelling all over the country from Swansea to Inverness to Eastbourne to Lowestoft. It’s a great thriller set in France just before World War II begins. Then, who knows what’s around the corner…

 

For you, what would you identify as the ‘art’ in acting and what’s your personal philosophy towards your work?

I suppose, like most actors and creatives, my belief is that the art is finding the truth in the work you do. And in terms of my personal philosophy towards my work, Judi Dench got it just right: “I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself”.

Would advice would you give to any young actors starting out?

If you can deal with the lifestyle, stick with it – even with the lows, it is the best job in the world! Take risks. Say yes. Know your worth. Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. Don’t beat yourself up. And be kind to people, it costs so little but means so much.

Tour dates for “Strictly Murder” can be found here… Strictly Murder Tour

You can find more information on Lara here…

Website: www.spotlight.com/5712-8979-3727

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3738359/

Twitter: @Lara_Lemons

Instagram: @Lara_Lemons




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ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS: SUBVERTING THE ROM-COM GENRE.

The vast majority of romantic comedies will follow a relatively predictable structure. Boy meets girl (a ‘meet-cute’ more often), boy meets girl again (a more in depth get-together), boy and girl actually get together, boy and girl split up and finally, boy and girl realise their feelings and get together for good. There are complications along the way – careers, third parties, parents etc. – but come the end, love conquers all.

Yet what happened next? The credits roll and the audience goes home happy that the two people who were meant to be together ended up together. What of the couple though? Do they stay together forever? Do they get married and have a wonderful life? Or do they get bored with one another or drift apart? Could, conceivably the central marriages in Sam Mendes films American Beauty and Revolutionary Road have started with much joy and love in the way many romantic comedies end?

Ideally, we’re not meant to ponder on this. It ruins the illusion, the magic of the movies. As Basil Exposition from Austin Powers would say – try not to think about it too much and just enjoy yourself. The happiness of the relationship is preserved in an almost inverse way to Romeo & Juliet where the titular couples tragic demise preserves their short relationship for all the ages.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS

Some films do try and give us a glimpse of ‘what happens next’ often via a montage or clip set some time after the main bulk of the action. Notting Hill ends with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts sitting together in a park, both happily married and her obviously pregnant. Wimbledon shows Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst teaching their children to play tennis. Maid In Manhatten shows us a magazine cover from boasting that Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Lopez are ‘Still together – One year on!’ It’s a way of extending the fantasy.

Yet when films play with the convention of genre, it can make for something rare and unique and there have been few better genre-benders in recent cinema than the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. Bizarrely, their 1987 screwball comedy Raising Arizona actually does conform to the aforementioned structure yet it brilliantly subverts it. For the opening ten minutes serve like a whirlwind rom-com.  H.I (Nic Cage) and Ed (Holly Hunter) meet and get married all before the opening credit has rolled, just ten minutes into the film. It’s an absurd set-up that we often get in romantic comedies- she is a cop and he is a criminal and they meet via his appearance in a police line-up.  The rest of the film then follows their attempts to start a family – by kidnapping the son of a furniture tycoon. It’s a romantic comedy that manages to squeeze the standard bulk of a romantic comedy into its opening gambit before stretching out what is traditionally a closing montage into the bulk of a ninety minute film. It’s a simple but effective trick that makes for a unique film. It reminds us of the difficulties that may lay ahead, post-wedding.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS

Similarly, with Intolerable Cruelty the brothers made a screwball romantic comedy that also follows the standard structure. However, the key difference is that Marilyn (Catherine Zeta-Jones) plans much of the plot out herself. She sets things up so that she can meet Miles (George Clooney), have him fall in love with her and get together before she divorces him and walks off with a healthy cheque. The only un-planned element of the whole thing is that come the end, she actually does fall in love with Miles – love conquers all, even in the bitter world of divorce lawyers and gold-diggers. It may be more conventional, but its application is almost post-modern.

Of course part of the reason that many romantic comedies do culminate in a wedding or a moment of union is that they often represent the happiest point of a relationship. Many relationships do run a joyful course with, as mentioned, many films demonstrating a snapshot of life after sunniest of moments but some of course do not. In life people get bored, drift apart, have affairs, decide they’re not right for each other or discover things about the other that they don’t like. Some relationships end in bitter separations with the couple having nothing good to say about one another. Romantic films rarely deal with this idea – with a notable exception of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE COEN BROTHERS




Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey) are experiencing one such break-up leading to him visiting Lacuna, Inc. to erase all memories of said relationship. However, as the process takes place, the bad memories from later in the relationship are the first to go leaving Joel with happy memories of his time with Clementine. These memories are ones he forgot he had and he realises he doesn’t want them erased. In showing the relationship in this way, the film is doing something unique – it is working backwards. Instead of leading up to the happiest moments, it is working back towards them. At a relationships start we don’t know they’re coming – at the end we’ve forgotten they were there.

It’s a shame that there aren’t more examples of love stories which subvert the genre in the same ways as the aforementioned films. While the not-so-secret formula works well for audiences and bean counters alike, it takes the likes of Raising Arizona and Eternal Sunshine to show up the most predictable of genres which is, ironically, about the most un-predictable human emotion.




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