Category Archives: Interviews

#12. Angela Peters – Actor

angela-petersAngela is a London based film and television actor and voice over artist who also works in Australia and Europe. A familiar face on Australia’s Seven Network (QLD) for the 2009 season of “Queensland’s Best Living”, Angela has also appeared in award winning feature films and short films screened at the Dubai International Film Festival, Queens International Film Festival, Budapest Film Festival, East End Film Festival, and in cinemas throughout the UK and Europe.

As well as acting Angela also set up UK Actors Tweetup, a networking night for actors.

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

From an early age I was inspired by the likes of Naomi Watts, because of her performance in 21 Grams and later Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener. When I watched 21 Grams, I was so completely affected, (oh and her role in Mulholland Drive too) I knew I wanted to be an artist like that. To affect people when they watch cinema, to take risks.

Are there any actors that influenced your style?

Definitely. In the early days I studied method acting and I was really into Al Pacino and some of the other greats who I had heard studied method acting too. Interestingly though, as I’ve got older my style has changed, and it continues to depend on the director I’m working with and how we work together. I find that’s half the fun of finding the character and the story – the journey you take with them and the other cast.

What steps did you take to make becoming an actress a reality?

Initially I went to a school that taught acting because I wanted to improve my singing voice. So I accidentally fell into acting. After that, once I realised I love it, I just worked on anything and everything that I was offered (of course avoiding nudity or things I didn’t agree with) so I could build my credits up and make industry contacts. Some actors choose to only do well paid work and they sit and wait. I think that does essentially work for some. But for me, as a female in a market with twice as many females for half as many roles, I wanted to accelerate my progress as quickly as possible by gaining as much experience as possible. I even remember my first film role being a stand in and hanging out with Sam Worthington for a whole day on set. I just loved being able to watch these professional actors closely and learn, learn, learn.

I also think early on I was lucky in just choosing a few lovely projects that won awards and had high production values. I was able to use those to help with building a showreel and getting seen for more auditions.

Cannes Film Festival

Angie at Cannes Film Festival

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

Definitely it would be a Casting Director who said to have a hobby or something else that you love to do. Don’t ever make acting your “everything” or it will be all-consuming.

It is still a job after all, even if it’s a wonderful and very rewarding job. Create a world for yourself which involves having hobbies, be that sport or leisure, and surround yourself with wonderfully uplifting people who have the same energy as you. No one wants to hang out with a Debbie Downer all the time and, in an industry where you are constantly being rejected, you definitely don’t need any more negativity.

What do you look for from your director?

I love working with directors who have real vision and want to create something truly unique and non-generic. I particularly love it when those said directors are going for something really raw and gritty, or they have this really unique story whuch must be told, they know exactly what it looks like to them, and they can communicate this exciting vision to the cast and crew they’re working with. That’s when I feel most involved and part of something big and magical.

What do you look for in a script?

Interestingly, I find scripts are much tougher than directors [in terms of what to look for]. Over the years I’ve become more particular about what I want to work on and unfortunately a lot of stories, especially in short film form, don’t tell a full story. It’s really disappointing when someone gives you a piece that they’re interested in attaching you to, and you get to the end of it and think, “wait, what…I don’t get it”. I want a script that will challenge an audience. I remember watching this BAFTA winning short once that was only a minute or so long and I still talk about it today. ROOM blew me away. And SIX SHOOTER, Martin McDonagh’s Oscar winning short – the performances are spellbinding. I look for scripts that blow you away or surprise the hell out of you.




You’ve set up and run the London Tweetup (@UKActorsTweetup), what are the benefits of these events and how can people attend?

Yes I founded the London Tweetups (@UKActorsTweetup) about 7 years ago to give actors a chance to meet industry professionals in a really informal environment, and ask questions they don’t normally get to (Independent, Hubbard Casting, Conway van Gelder, Award winning directors and producers are a few examples of previous speakers) and without spending much money. Then afterwards there’s time for free networking, so actors get a chance to meet working directors, Casting Directors, Producers, Writers and the likes. The real benefit for all who attend is that they get the chance to mingle with all of these different industry people and then often gain contacts or work opportunities as a result.

Recently we also set up the TweetFest Short Film Festival, off the back of London Tweetups. It is in it’s second year now, is an IMDb recognised Film Festival, and we hold it at the Picturehouse annually with over 100 filmmakers and industry VIPs in attendance. It’s a chance for our members to have their work seen by some of Britain’s professionals and we are thrilled to be championing local talent. The next TweetFest is actually coming up on the 1st November (couldn’t help mentioning it!).

UK Actors Tweet Fest

UK Actors TweetFest

In your opinion, are there any common mistakes you see actors make?

I think acting is one of the toughest professions out there, so I am hesitant to knock any actor who is earnestly trying to make it work for them as a career. But having said that, I do find there are things which can help and hinder a career. I think actors commonly spend too much time worry about their next job, and not enough time enjoying the one they’re currently on. It’s going to be a long steady road so we may as well enjoy each and every baby step. By being mindful, you can really appreciate the journey and be the best possible actor on the job you’re currently working on.

I also think lots of actors, especially when they’re starting out, make the mistake of thinking everyone else needs to hear their CV (usually because they’re insecure and keen to impress). Be comfortable with where you are at, and don’t give an abridged version of your Spotlight CV when you first meet an important CD, Director or Producer. Just be yourself and talk about what you would with your non-actor buddies. This will leave so much more memorable an impression, and you might discover things you have in common.

angie-peters-ads

If you could change one thing about the film industry what would it be?

More female roles so that we actually see an equal depiction of women and men on television and in films. If 50% of the population is female, shouldn’t our future generations see that on screen? That and sexism in the industry. They are the two things I’m constantly frustrated by.

Do you have any tips/advice for anyone wanting to pursue acting?

Absolutely, pursue it if you are passionate about it as a career choice, and not because you want to get famous (if that’s your motivation, I can suggest some awful reality TV shows). Make sure you put away your tax for every job you earn, and 10% on top of that aside for savings! Between jobs can feel like a terribly long time and it sucks to have to go back to ‘other work’ in the downtimes.

To finish on a high – I think it’s the best job in the world! You meet incredible people, work in some incredible locations, and get to play every day. So if you want to pursue it, don’t listen to anyone who tells you to get a real job. They’re just jealous.

Angela can be found on Tweeter: twitter.com/angiepang, IMDB and you can keep up to date with Angie’s blog here: actingbabe.com



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#11. Andre-Pierre – Actor

ipm_casting_1280Andre-Pierre Is An Up And Coming Actor From Birmingham (West Midlands) And Is Represented By Imperial Personal Management (IPM).  Coming From a Dance Background, Acting Was Always Andre’s First Love And Now He’s On The Verge Of Making A Storm In The Film And Television Industry With Numerous Music Videos, Short And Independent Feature Films And Stage Performances Under His Belt. His Recent Credits Include, Curiosity Calls, 3/5 A Man, Uncle Ben: Block Party, Roman, Ain’t Nobody (Remix) Directors Cut – Maverick Sabre, My Life My Choice And Many More.

He Recently Made His TV Debut By Appearing On BBC’s Crimewatch. He Has More Coming Up, Appearing Next In Feature Film Blitz In The Bits, Indy (Short Film), Desolate (Short Film), When Will We Want Us – TrueMendous (Music Video) And 3 Untitled Projects Soon To Be Announced. Andre Is Definitely On His Way To Becoming One To Watch In The Future.

Andre Appearing In Music Video Home – Plain & Simple Ft. Nia Ekanem

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

I’ve Always Loved Films, Since I Was Young I’ve Been A Film Lover At Heart. I Think The First Actor I Saw Growing Up That First Influenced Me To Be An Actor Was Will Smith. Watching His Early Films He Was Always Someone I Loved Watching As A Young Kid. He Made You Enjoy The Character And What Was Happening Throughout The Film. From There, At The Age Of 12 – 13, I Got Myself Involved In Acting Classes, Stage Plays And Dance. I Was Very Shy, Quiet And I Really Didn’t Know How To Express Myself Until I Started Acting. Performing Gave Me A Sense Of Freedom As It Was Where I Felt Most At Home.  The More Performances I Did And Learnt How To Develop Characters, The More I Fell In Love With The Craft Which Confirmed For Me That This Is Something I Want To Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life. I Think When Star Wars: The Force Awakens Came Out And Seeing John Boyega ON The Big Screen It Hit Me To Think That If This Is Possible, Maybe I Can Reach That Point One Day. With Acting There’s Always New Challenges, New Skills To Learn, More Things To Learn About Yourself And What You Can Do As A Performer. As An Actor You’re Constantly Learning Day To Day. It’s One Of The Things I Love About My Career As An Actor.

Are there any actors that influenced your style?

Yeah Definitely Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Denzel Washington, Jack O’Connell, Chadwick Bozeman, Michael Fassbender, Michael B. Jordan, Christian Bale, John Boyega And Tom Hardy. With These Actors (And Theres Still Many More I Admire) They Immerse Themselves In Their Roles Each And Every Time. These Actors Always Showcase A Wide Range Of Roles And Ability To Their Craft Which Always Makes Them Standout In Everything They Play. I Always Want To Make My Characters Stand Out, Be Interesting And To Be Well To The Point Your Anxious To Know What They Are Gonna Do And Say Next. I Always Apply That Commitment And Discipline To All The Characters I Play As It’s Important For Me That The Characters Feel As Real As Possible.

Andre As The Villain Liston In Blitz In The Bits (Feature Film) Coming Soon

Andre As The Villain Liston In Blitz In The Bits (Feature Film) Coming Soon

How would you describe your acting style?

I Would Describe My Acting Style As Honest And True To How The Character Is. When Playing Different Types Of Roles The First Thing I Always Think Of Is Who Does This Person Remind Me Of Then I Build On The Character From There. I Also Base My Style On Real People And My Own Experiences So The Emotions And The Reactions Are Coming From A Real Place. I Think That’s The Best Way To Make The Characters Feel Real By Basing It On Or Being Inspired By The People That Are Actually Living The Experiences So It Never Feels Fake, Unnatural Or Out Of Place For The Audience Watching. When I’m Going Through Scripts And Talking With Directors I Always Ask Questions Because I Wanna Say, Do And React How The Character Would So If That Means Changing Certain Lines, Working On Certain Scenes More, Then We Get It Done Together Because We Wanna Create Something Substantial And Important. My Goal Is Always To Have The Audience Have An Emotional Reaction Watching My Character Whatever The Circumstance.




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

I Think The Best Piece Of Advice I’ve Been Given Is To Love The Craft First And To Be Myself. Theres No Greater Asset Than Being True To Who I Am And What I’m Capable Of As An Actor. I Think That’s Enough In Terms Of People Understanding Who I Am. I Do Acting Because I Love Storytelling, I Love Portraying Different Characters, I Love The New Challenges I’m Given As An Actor. You Can’t Be In This Business For Fame Otherwise You Wont Last Long. I Do This Because I’ve Loved Doing It From An Early I Respect The Craft and The Process Of How Things Come Together. I Love The Potential And Impact A Performance Can Have Whether It’s Film Or Theatre.

Andre In Indy (Short Film) Coming Soon

Andre In Indy (Short Film) Coming Soon

What do you look for from your director?

I Always Look For A Director That’s Trying To Do Something Fresh And Different But Also Wants To Tell A Strong Story First And Foremost. A Director That’s Got Something To Say, A Point To Prove And An Overall Theme Or Message They’re Trying To Put Across. I Also Like The Directors To Be Passionate About What They Are Making And To Have A Real Structure, Know What They Are Doing And Take Risks With Their Material. Also Directors That Are Willing To Collaborate With Their Actors And Bounce Back And Forth Between Ideas. We Have To Make The Overall Story Great, Because That’s Our Job As Storytellers To Create Something That Will Resonate With Our Audience. It’s Even Better If You Have A Great Working Relationship With Each Other And You Relate To Them Which Also Helps Make A Great Finalised Film.

What do you look for in a script?

A Strong Script Is The First Thing I Look For Because Without A Strong Foundation For The Film And Story, Everything Else Falters. I Also Look At The Journey Of The Characters, Where They Start To Where They End Up When The Story Is Finished. What Changes Do They Go Through? How Do They Interact With Other Characters? What’s Their Purpose In The Story And How Relatable They Are Or Can Be? I Look At All Those Things Because If I’m Not Drawn To The Character Or It Isn’t Interesting On The Script, It’s More Than Likely I Wont Do It. I Like My Scripts To Be Engaging In All Aspects In Whatever Genre Or Role I’m Taking On. I Already Have A Strong Script For A Short Film. I Can’t Say What It Is Yet But It’s Gonna Be Quality.  I’m About To Film Soon But Because It’s So Strong, All I Can Do Is Experiment And Build On The Character More To make It Even Stronger. That’s What I’d Do With Any Strong Script, I’d Build On It So The Story And Characters Become Even Stronger.

Desolate Official Trailer (2016) from Robert W. Lawrence on Vimeo.

What kind of role do you prefer?

I Don’t Have A Kind Of Role To Be Honest, I Gravitate To Roles That Are Interesting And It Being Something I Would Wanna See Myself, As Apposed To Having Any Particular Kind Of Role. I Think That’s How you Trap Yourself As An Actor,  You End Up Being Typecast Because Of It. I Think The One Thing That Attracts Me To Any Kind Of Role Is That It’s Relatable First. To Me, In Any Genre Or Story, Having A Relatable Trait In A Character Gives You Part Of A Connection To The Audience Watching And Hopefully Keeps Them Invested. I’ve Played Various Roles Over The Years But I Always Make Sure That They Are Relatable.

Do you think there’s plenty of varied opportunities for actors in the Midlands?

I Would Say There Are A Few Opportunities But Not Many. I Feel Like The Scene Is Still Growing Down Here. There’s So Much Talent That It’s Sad That There Isn’t Enough Opportunity That Most Of The Talent Here Has To Go Elsewhere To Provide And Showcase Their Talents. There’s A Small Number Of Filmmakers That Are Doing Great Things Behind The Camera, But I Still Reckon There Needs To Be More Done Because I Still Think Midlands Is Heavily Overlooked When It Comes To Actors And Filmmakers And Theres Some Great Material Being Made Down Here That People Still Have Yet To See. I Think Over Time More Opportunities Will Flourish Over The Years To Come But More Opportunities Has To Be Happen.

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If you could change one thing about the film industry what would it be?

For The Film Industry To Take A Chance On More New Diverse Talent Of Actors And Filmmakers Especially In The UK. I Think In Order To Tell Stories Today You Got To Reflect That On What You See When You Go Outside Your Front Door. In Todays Society Most Cities Are Very Multicultural Now So TV Shows And Films Should Reflect That It Opens Up New Points Of View, More Interesting Storytelling And Overall A Broader Audience To Show. I Think Also Bringing In New Diverse Talented Filmmakers To The Industry Would Bring More Original Ideas Again As Apposed To Always Relying On Properties Based On Books, Toys, Comics Etc. I Think The More We Bring New Ideas, Diverse Filmmakers And Actors To The Table The More The Film Industry Will Bring More Quality Like TV Shows Are Doing Right Now.

CURIOSITY CALLS – Official Trailer from CarmaFilm Motion Pictures on Vimeo.

Do you have any tips/advice for anyone wanting to pursue acting?

I Think My Main Piece Of Advice Would Be To Love The Craft First Its As Simple As That. Study, Practice, Research And Love The Whole Process. Never Go Into This Thinking You Will Get Fame Quickly And Easy, Thats Not How It Works. If Thats Your Intention Then You Will Surely Hit Rock Bottom Quick. Always Be Willing To Learn, Be Open Minded, Willing To Take Direction And Always Be Willing To Become A Better Actor. The Better You Get The More Work Will Surely Come Your Way Through Time But Always Be Willing To Be Creative, Take Risks And Not Be Afraid To Stand Out With Your Choices Of Role, But Most Importantly Be True To Yourself.

Andre-Pierre’s Twitter Is @DrePierreTweets And Instagram: TheLifeOfDrePierre For The Latest Updates For What He Will Be Appearing In Next.

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#10. Jennifer Chislett – Sound recordist

Jennifer Chislett sound recordistJennifer Chislett is a seasoned Sound recordist who has worked in TV, Radio, Independent Film and Education. She has a wide ranging skillset and varied experience. Her credits include The Bill, Till Sunset and Junction 6.

 

What’s a typical day like on set as a sound recordist?

What a tricky question to start with! Each set is so different and I have worked on both TV and independent film sets.

So I start my day by getting all the gear ready, getting fresh batteries in the kit and prepping it. I will check over the sides for the day. If I’m boom operating, I will give the first scene a good read. I always keep an eye on the DOP and the director as we’re setting up and when they start talking about the first setup, I am right there. As a rule of thumb, no one ever tells sound when they start talking about setups and it’s good to find out what’s what. When I know what the first set up is, I will get any additional equipment ready and in position. If I am boom operating, I will keep an eye on the shot set up and any lighting. I keep an eye on where the shadows are being thrown and try and book myself a position onset as soon as possible. When they rehearse the scene, I am there watching and practicing if I can. Then it’s very much lather, rinse, repeat! At the end of the day, I try and hand over sound files if there’s time, before I go, otherwise as soon as I get home, I upload them to google drive or dropbox and send them over to the production team. Then I rest my arms!

 

What kinds of projects have you worked on?

I have worked in TV, and on independent film sets. I have enjoyed both equally! The best things have been ones where I have been challenged. One of my favourite experiences and the only time I have ever been in the back of a REAL police car is when I recorded the new sirens for the The Bill.

 

How did you get into working as a sound person?

For as long as I remember I wanted to do something with sound, audio or music. I’m currently working in education, but I pursue independent productions as I enjoy them. Previously to my employment in Education I was working in Broadcast. I worked for a number of years for a new defunkt Broadcast Hire Company, and that was a very good and interesting route in.

 

What project that you’ve worked on are you most proud of / enjoyed the most?

That’s another really difficult question! I guess my favourite thing I ever worked on was Jools Holland. It was a work experience opportunity, but I got to set up microphones for The Zutons and Razorlight (remember them?). I’m probably proudest of my

 

Can you give us a kit run down? (what, why, cost)

With the exception of some branded sound products, you do get what you pay for with sound equipment. So you need to decide what your budget is and then move forward from there. The great thing about sound equipment is that most times it’s interchangeable so you can keep improving your kit.

  • Microphones

Rode MicrophoneSo for recording for recording dialogue you are going to need what is called a shotgun microphone. The Sennheiser MKH416 is a fairly industry standard model. I also know some Sound Recordists favour the russian made Oktava range. If you are looking for something a little cheaper and a bit more forgiving, I have had success with Rode NTG-2’s. Remember to get the best microphone you can afford, this isn’t an area you should skimp on!

  • Headphones

Recording on set you will need a lovely clean pair of closed ear headphones to monitor sound. Put down the Dre Beats, these are not the headphones you are looking for however cool they look. You can get a much better of headphones at a much more reasonable price – please believe me! My favourite are Beyerdynamic DT770’s or you could go for Sennheiser HD25’s. They are more than worth the money in comfort and clarity.

  • Portable Recorders

Unless you are plugging directly into camera (which I would generally advise against unless you have a portable mixer, an assistant, or can go wireless without compromising the quality of the sound) you will need a portable recorder. There are a wide range. If for the most part , if you are recording a single microphone signal a small Zoom recorder would suffice. If you are investing in kit, you have a lot of choices to make!

 

Best thing about working as a sound recordist?

Unless you’re dealing with fisher booms, you generally have a lot less equipment to lug around! There is a lovely, often subtle, artistry to sound which I personally love. Sound can often tell you so much more than a picture.

 

Worst thing about working as a sound recordist?

The worst thing about working in sound is that you are often an afterthought and can be overlooked. I think many people don’t value sound, because the best sound goes un-noticed by many. I always say that if no one comments on the sound you have done a blinding job, the only time people actually notice is when it goes wrong which can be incredibly disheartening. In an ideal world you will have a mixer and a boom op, but this seems to be rarer and rarer these days except on high budget productions.

 

Any sound recording tips for someone making a low budget film?

I have two pieces of advice. My number one piece of advice is to get the sound right on the day. At times it can unavoidable, but most low budgets will not have budgeted for ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement). ADR Sessions are expensive, even if you have the skills to do it at home, it still means you have to get the actors back for the day. If it’s unable to be done in a home studio, you’re adding on studio time to that bill. Also it takes a very skilled actor to get ADR correct.

 

So what can you do to ensure that you get the sound right on the day?

  • Do a Recce – if you can go along to the location and ‘listen’ – is the location on a flight path?, is it next to a building site etc… If you can’t get along before hand then when you arrive, have a good listen (and look) around for anything that may cause problems.
  • Make sure you gain permission from the location owners to switch off or move any equipment that makes a noise this can include things like clocks, fridges, fish tanks.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for another take. In high pressured situations it can be difficult to get your voice heard but it’s your job to get what is needed.
  • If you come across an impossible situation, you need to make the director aware of the limitations of what you can do with a shot.
  • Judge the situation. You will be working around all the other departments, it’s not appropriate to consistently pull your weight, or slow production down by creating problems. Always come to the party with solutions and if you become the problem, find another way to do it.
  • Record as much as you can. If there is a spot sound effect, for example a hand drier, record it separately.
  • Room Tone – always record a minute or so of room tone, it’s really going to help your sound editor.
  • Be tenacious, you probably can’t afford to hire radio mics unless your sound recordist has them so you will need to be creative, and they should only be a last resort. Use all the tools available to you!

 

My second piece of advice is to get a sound recordist. Don’t just hand sound to your 3rd AD or Production Assistant. Some shoots are easy, but the majority are not. There seems to be loads of good camera folk out there, but a good Sound recordist appears to be gold dust in the low budget world so treat them nicely!

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in sound?

Look after your ears. Start really listening to films and TV – what makes them good/bad? Start networking, now. Get all the experience you can. Go to Uni, if you can. Don’t undersell yourself – especially when you start getting paid. Learn about what everyone else is doing on a shoot and how you may have to interact with them. Learn how to live as a freelancer, because you will probably have to.

Jennifer Chislet is on Twitter and you can found out more information via her website.. www.chis.co.uk

#9. Sarah Smart – Actress

Sarah Smart currentBirmingham born Sarah Smart is a familiar face on British TV with over 20 years of broadcast experience. Sarah’s career started at an early age appearing in shows such as Woof!. Regular parts in popular shows followed, appearing in A Touch of Frost, Soldier Soldier and Casualty. Sarah’s popularity grew when she appeared in Sally Wainwright’s At Home with the Braithwaites, playing Virginia Braithwaite. Sarah’s recent TV appearances have seen her perform alongside Kenneth Branagh in Wallander, and also appear in the BBCs contemporary retelling of The Musketeers.

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

It was all a very happy accident really. My mom sent me to speech and drama classes at the age of five as moral support for my sister, Donna who was painfully shy. We both ended up loving it and progressed to the older drama group in Birmingham, The Central Junior Television Workshop. We both grew in confidence and our social skills and performance skills really developed and we were cast in a film together, playing twins at the age of ten. The workshop was funded by Central Television at the time so directors would come and audition us for children’s shows and I ended up landing a lead in ‘Woof!’ a brilliant kid’s TV show and just carried on from there. So I blame, I mean, I thank my lovely sister, Donna!

What steps did you take to make becoming an actress a reality?

I had to be a really good student at school to get the time off to film while I was a child and then I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a really good London agent by Liza Goddard, an actress in Woof! And that helped immensely because they put me forward for auditions and secured the jobs once I’d left The Television Workshop.

Was growing up in the Midlands beneficial to your career or was relocation necessary?

I think I would never have become an actress had I not been a member of The Central Junior Television Workshop in Birmingham so I have them to thank for setting up my career really. The group only exists in Birmingham and Nottingham. I think growing up in the Midlands also helped with staying ‘down to earth’. My family and school friends in Birmingham would never have let me get too full of myself. It helps to be a better actor I think, the more grounded you are. Relocation isn’t necessary, though I did move to London when I was 19 because I wanted to be closer to where the auditions were and where most of the actors I knew lived.

Do you find there’s been an increase or decrease in actors originating from the Midlands during your career?

I’ve always known Midlands actors since I was a child and many very successful ones. I think the Midlands accents are heard more widely now but there definitely could always be more shows based in the Midlands and definitely more Midlands accents in radio dramas and theatre. I absolutely love hearing a Midlands accent. It makes me feel warm inside. There are probably lots of actors you see regularly who are from the Midlands but you’d never know. I’ve only been asked to ‘do’ my Brummie accent twice in my career so far. That’s a terrible fact and I think it needs to be addressed.

Sarah Smart WallanderWhat do you look for in a script?

I think if it’s an instant page turner, then you’re onto a winner really. The characters interest me the most because they are what will be driving the story and if they are well drawn and fascinating then the show should be watchable too. If I am instantly captivated by the character I would potentially be cast to play then I know I can do a good job portraying her . If I can’t seem to get a grip on why the character is like she is, then I tend not to audition for the part because I would never do the role justice.

You’ve been very successful in TV, how does your relationship between film and TV differ?

I love working in TV. It’s where I feel most at home. I think that is why the only films I have been involved in so far are TV films or short films for Cinema. The crossover from TV to Cinema was very hard to navigate but the gap seems to be shrinking a little. Actors are given more opportunities to be involved in everything now. It helps if you manage to make a name for yourself. I haven’t tried hard enough maybe because I am so happy being involved in really great TV drama.

What do you look for in a director?

A director who from the start wishes me to be part of their project is always a plus! I think, if you can instantly relate to them personally and they can translate to you easily how they are picturing the process and end product, then that really helps. Feeling safe and being able to trust the boss is always a bonus and really helps you do a better job.




What have been your professional highlights?

I absolutely loved playing Virginia in ‘At Home With The Braithwaites’. What a character! The scripts were amazing and the directors we got to work with were numerous and brilliant and the cast was absolutely fantastic, so talented and such a pleasure to hang out with on and off set. Sally Wainwright, the writer and creator of the show is remarkable and I happily established a wonderful relationship with her that led me to play another two brilliantly written roles in her dramas ‘Sparkhouse’ and ‘Jane Hall’. I feel very lucky. That was such a wonderful time in my career.

Meet the Braithwaites

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

I just really wish there was more money around to make more beautiful and interesting TV dramas and theatre productions. Time and again budgets are being cut and actors are working really hard for often very little money and shows are being cobbled together on a shoestring budget. Sometimes you can’t tell because the production teams, crew and actors are so professional but it isn’t fair and it isn’t what anybody really wants, actors or viewers.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue acting?

It’s wonderful to have a creative and varied career which is what you get when you pursue a career in actng. It is also extremely hard to be self employed. Even very successful actors have time out of work so make sure you have lots of interests and actvities lined up for those periods. A local drama group or class is a brilliant way to start to give you a flavour of how you feel about it and how you fare in front of an audience. Aside from a career, it makes a truly brilliant hobby or pastime. It’s a great confidence builder and fantastic for honing your social skills, just ask my sister!

This is the new drama group for kids in Birmingham. The leader is my lovely friend, Ross Simpson, a former member of The Central Junior Television Workshop

firstactworkshops.blogspot.co.uk

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#8. Fuwad Abrar – Filmmaker

Fuwad AbrarFuwad Abrar is a British-Pakistani filmmaker who has made films for over ten years. He started making films when he was thirteen years old, using a Sony Ericson phone which had a camera and a simple editing program. He would use that daily and since then, fell in love with filmmaking.

From then, he decided that it was time to make his first feature. On New Year’s Day of 2016, he started writing what was soon to be his feature film directorial debut, Isolated. Isolated was written in 2 weeks, filmed in 5 days and edited in less than 2 months. Next in line, he has his second feature film titled The Mirage.

What films/filmmakers inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Wow, that is going to be a loaded question, but I will try to name just a few. When I was growing up, Star Wars was always a massive part of my life. As a kid I just loved watching all three of the original films. I loved escaping the real world and being immersed within the world of the film, and in particular, those films. They inspired me enormously, because they helped me explore my imagination and helped me with my creative writing and directing. Of course, I was one of those kids who’d always have a stick and pretend it was a light sabre.

Any films by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, James Cameron, Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick. These are some of my favourite filmmakers and their films have inspired me a great deal. It can be a cliche to name these phenomenal filmmakers, but it is the truth, they have had such an impact me and also cinema itself.

How did you come up with the idea for your first feature (Isolated)?

Isolated was an idea I had when I was walking home from school. I walked past this man who must have been in his early twenties. He was sat on a bench, looking all depressed and lonely. I always wondered what his day would have been like up to the point that I met him. It was a giant idea that just kept playing on my mind over the years.

He looked very normal, wearing shirt and jeans, and there was a point where he was crying for a little bit. I wanted to ask him if he was okay, but I didn’t want to disturb him. Wherever he is right now, I hope he is alive and well. I never saw him again after that day, which was over nine years ago now.

Isolated ANother Poster With Hooded Man

During the writing process, how aware were you of locations you could use and did you have any actors in mind for certain parts?

I was fully aware as I shot it in my hometown of Stoke On Trent. I grew up here and pretty much knew the locations like the back of my hand. Stoke On Trent is a very small city in the county of Staffordshire and has a system of dividing the city into six towns. Longton, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Fenton and of course Stoke.

We intentionally did not film in the towns of Burslem and Tunstall, as they are always busy and most of the time did not suit the setting I was going for. I wanted a more open environment which involved some big buildings. Hanley had this quality as it is right in the city centre.

The reason I wanted an open area was to give a metaphorical depiction of what it could be like for someone to be on social media. They are in open view to the world, but deep down never felt so lonely.

Lastly, I thought of the idea that, what if after 9/11, Bin Laden was in the streets of New York? Would he be recognised instantly? I mean in the few hours after the event, would anyone realise it was him?

All of these ideas eventually came together and I ended up with the idea for my first feature, Isolated.

Sam Tesco Shot

What was the most challenging aspect of making your first feature?

Getting it actually made. What I mean by that is there were so many pushbacks and delays that got me frustrated. I initially wrote the part of the lead for my friend who was in most of my short films. He sadly had to drop out though due to personal commitments in his life, leading me into a slight panic.

I then approached local actors, asking whether they wanted to be in it. It became such a struggle for me that I almost pulled the plug. Literally no one wanted to do it. It was very infuriating, thinking that they studied acting but did not wish to work on the film. They all responded positively to the script as well and still wouldn’t do it.

Myself and my producer decided it was best to put an ad on a casting call website, and within four days we got 140 people begging for the part. This was something I could not believe was happening. It lead to me thinking, why didn’t we do this from the start?

Finding the right actor was a massive challenge and we had to narrow it down from 140 people to the last 5. Finally we reached our decision on two actors, Samuel Vaughan and Gerald Maliqi. They both impressed me so much, I had to give them the parts. Samuel was cast as the lead Jack and Gerald was cast as Tony. After that, everything went according to plan.

Do you have any advice for anyone about to make their first feature?

The main advice I can give is always (and I mean always) have a PLAN B. I learnt this from my producer Atdhe Latifaj who suggested the ideas on how to progress with the production.

Another piece of advice I would give is that if you believe you are ready to do a feature, then please do it. The issue I had was that I was asking local filmmakers for tips on making a feature film. They all said that I was making a big mistake and to just stick with short films. I got a jealousy vibe from this and so decided to ignore them. It was down to one simple reason, I was ready to make my feature film debut.

Do you have any plans for a festival run/distribution?

I do yes. I have submitted it to the BFI film festival in London and fifteen other film festivals across the globe. I am not really expecting much, but I figured it is worth a try to hopefully get some form of recognition.

After that, I am aiming to do digital downloads at a very cheap and reasonable price. For me it is not about making money, it is about letting people see my work and enjoying it.

What’s your approach to directing actors?

Hours before the shoot I just talk to them. I talked to my actors for days and nights about the character’s story, background and how they got to that point in the film.

Also, just try to make the process as friendly as possible, so it feels natural. Don’t make it feel like it is a lot of work or else you may not enjoy the making of the film.

smamama

How important is collaboration to you?

Collaboration is important because whenever I write a character, I want the actors to have their full input to make the character their own. I don’t want to stress too much on how I want the characters to be on screen as the actors have the responsibility for that now.

If I discuss it with them, and they have ideas, I always like to make it work so that we can make the film we all want to make. There will be times of disagreement, and that’s fine as it is my film and my vision. Make sure, you don’t let any actor overthrow your creativity. If that happens, then you know it won’t work and need to find someone who can make it work for you.

Are there any aspects of modern cinema that you dislike?

I really dislike British social realism films, such as This is England or any film by Ken Loach. To anyone who loves them, I respect that, but I personally am not a fan. The reason being, I watch a film to be entertained and taken out of the real world. These films just remind me of how horrid some places can be. To me, it completely defeats the purpose of a film and may as well be a documentary.

Fuwad Abrar can be found on Twitter here.

YouTube can be found here.