Redfern Now

Here is a little bit about the episode of Redfern Now that I featured in (This is a direct copy from Australian Television Information Archive).

Dion and Ursula were absolute champs as were the fun and incredibly respectful crew. Loved working with these guys in the location of Parramatta Gaol, which looks like a castle from the outside and feels exactly like it is (a working prison) once you are in.

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POKIES

Episode 2.05
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Ratings: 469,000 viewers (13th)
Written by Steven McGregor
Directed by Beck Cole

Nic Shields spends her lunch hour in a daily ritual at her local club: a little lunch, a couple of games of Keno and then play the pokies. But what started out as a bit of fun has slowly become a problem. Her bank balance is evaporating, and to hide the true extent of her gambling from her husband Eddie, she has re-directed her credit card statements to her cousin Grace’s house. This places a strain on their relationship, but Nic assures Grace she will sort it out soon.

But Nic’s preoccupation with gambling intensifies as she tries to find the money to pay for Eddie’s fortieth birthday party, her son Joel’s school excursion, and a major landscape improvement being undertaken in the family backyard.

A few days later, on her way to bank her employer’s takings, Nic is robbed. The police are called, and friends and family are sympathetic to her ordeal. Although she wants to go back to work immediately, Nic accepts a break from work, but spends her free time playing the pokies. The police turn up during Eddie’s birthday party with the good news that the perpetrator has been caught. But why is Nic so nervous when asked to accompany them to the station?

Cast: Les Chantery as Officer Markos, Kylie Farmer as Lena, Brenda Knowles as Lisa,Ewan Leslie as Mr Parish, Aaron McGrath as Joel, Madeleine Madden as Chloe, Emma Mullings as Kristen, Roberts Preston as Colin, Leah Purcell as Grace, Marley Sharp as Eddie, Heath Wilder as Glen (Lawyer), Dion Williams as Robbie, Ben Wood as Clyde, Ursula Yovich as Nic, Ivan Clarke as Cousin 1, Jesse Guivarra as Dancer 2, Ethel Ann Gundy as Edith, Thomas E.S. Kelly as Dancer 1 / Didgeridoo Player, Glenn Millanta as Officer Abbott, Edward Valent as Cousin 2, Dean Widders as Cousin 3, Yilara Widders as Little Girl, Quentin Yung as Hotel Desk Clerk

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Medical Roleplay

Here is a lovely image from some medical training work that I’ve done recently with some ophthalmologists.  I was playing a fellow that was stabbed in the eye at a bar but up until this point has no idea of the injury – fun ensues! I did this scenario with 4 different teams throughout the day, 1 hour each. It’s amazing how different it is every time.

ranzco

Medical Roleplay

 

Acting and Juggling?

Recently a friends put out a call asking how other actors do it.  The it being hold down regular work and still manage to get time for castings, gigs, callbacks, classes and so on.  His recent new job has turned out to be nowhere near as flexible as it was originally marketed as being and he finds himself in a pickle, as we all have at sometime or another. It’s no less of a panic than the episode of Family Ties where Alex finds himself with 2 dates to the senior prom!

The face I made when we didn't make the cut for Optus one80

The face I made when we didn’t make the cut for Optus one80

So what do you do?

  1. Improvise Cleopatra’s death scene and call in sick or
  2. give it to them straight and tell them they can just fire you if they don’t like it.

Either option can cause you intense anxiety which (unless you are auditioning for a Mamet play) can does not behoove good acting.

And how do we pick jobs that give us our freedom whilst allowing us enough money to pay the rent, acting classes, headshots, casting websites and enough cheap goon to drown our sorrows?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

From my perspective there came a time recently where I realized that the halcyon days of doing indy and amateur theatre were over outside of a big advert coming my way. It does seem disheartening that the only way to practice the craft that you studied 20 years is to pay for it yourself no matter how many hundreds come to see you.

So what was my permanent solution? Sadly I don’t have one, BUT a working day-by-day plan helps. My day job is fairly flexible and very understanding and CASUAL because it’s in the theatre industry. I also broadened my focus from TV, film and theatre to looking for more payed acting jobs. When I went to acting school there was no mention of the paid work that’ll give you, if not a living at least a close semblance of one. They are Corporate Video, Corporate Roleplay, Voice Over and Advertising. Stuff I’ve done less of (but are the bread and butter for friends) are Theatre in Education, Puppetry, Presenting & Radio.

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I’ve talked recently about how Corporates can be some of the best workshops you’ll ever do.  I think it’s also worth noting that they can also be some of the most rewarding and life changing work that you’ll ever do.  I think back to the amazing performances I saw as a kid at school that got me hooked into acting. If I bumped into any one of those amazing people today I’d punch them in the face (kidding). Main point is that these jobs all pay, and for the most part pay well.  They are highly skilled acting jobs that’ll be appreciated and will help you get by and get more skills and work (if you leverage them). Just with out the built in glam of TV, Film and Theatre (which ironically is less glam once you are there).

Anyhow what’s your take, and how do you make it work? Or what make you lose your mind in frustration? We’re all here to help one another.

The corporate acting jobs: (the best workshop you’ll do)

I’ve had a few corporate jobs come up over the last few weeks. That’s great for a few reasons; one being that it’s been scarce on that particular front for a couple months (though filled by other acting work); two it’s with new clients which is great business wise; and three it’s the best emotional workshop you can possibly do AND you get paid for it.

I’ll talk a bit about #3 by going into some fuzzy details about the jobs.  With corporate work (Role play and Video) you are hired to show the good and bad of human interaction so that the people learning can see and practice what to do and what to avoid. What that essentially means for the actor (ie. me) is that I get to play the juicy parts of the human condition. Some times it’s the emotional journey of your favorite Shakespeare tragedy EVERY HALF HOUR

One job involved a character that was dying and the clients were training on getting information through to him. The tricky bit here was in a lot of the scenario’s my guy came in in a state of middle-of-the-road-happy but had to break down when confronted with the scary information.  This might seem a little obvious but for me as an actor I have been inclined to prep for the sad stuff and think about the rest of the scene as a chaff for that seed.  Here I was in a position to find it, or more accurately let it find me, in the scene. Now I’ve never been the cry-on-cue kind of actor but I was happily surprised to be able to pull it out of the bag very half hour for 8 hours a day for a week.  Big win.

This time I’ve been using Chubbuck (as taught by Anthony Wong so a little of a different flavour to what you might read) to get me over the line. He talks about setting up little land mines of emotion on words or gestures or concepts, in home time rehearsal and then setting them off (or letting them find you) in the scene.  I’ve been a little unsuccessful in the past doing this (at least for my own happiness) and I think that the main reason is the self judgement in the moment getting in the way of getting the action/objective. But in the immortal words of Bullwinkle Moose “This time for sure”.

Like any good magic there is a trick behind it and by trick I mean loads of tough training and constant practice, and I won’t go through it here.  If you need to know then get a hold of Anthony and do the dying exercise (or sexual chemistry or any of the amazing things he does).  The thing is it’s no different from being angry on cue; or being in love on cue; or what-have-you emotion.  The trick is focusing on yourself and the (sometimes sub-textural)  story that gets you there and making it about the dialogue between you and the person opposite you. I think that being in those 2 places at once makes it harder for the self judgement to be heard and get in the way of doing the job. Corporate jobs are great ways of training what you learn in class.

I’m in a glass case of emotion

So it’s been a big emotional couple weeks for me, both fake and RL (ironically real life stuff always happens at the same time doesn’t it?).  That’s a segue into looking after yourself emotionally.

We all know putting your hand in the fire is a bad thing. But the actors job is to metaphorically do that, and with glee and often.  Some of the reasons that actors (and all artists) are loved is that they are vicarious vehicles for emotional catharsis for the rest of us. The important actor trick here is to be very skilled at recovering from horror.  All the crying and anger and love is based on real feelings and (esp for my style of performance) very real events. After such a performance you get a couple hours of cathartic joy and relief in your body. It does (like the drugs that mimic it) come with a crash afterwards. So it is extremely important to have a good set of techniques to get you back to reality and back into yourself. Some might call this de-rolling but for me it’s just resetting. All the drinks at the pub and good reviews are poor substitutes for good de-rolling techniques. This is another thing that I’ve been thankful for – getting skilled up by Anthony. Actually he’s the only one whose taught this to me over the 15 years I’ve been going to his class. I never learnt this in acting school or any of the other classes I’ve been to which is sad.

Anyway that is some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about wrt corporate jobs. I’d love to hear some of your experiences.

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting

Foxtel camera challenge

Seton buys me coffee

I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago to work on a great little project.  It was a competition in-house for Foxtel.  The channels received a brief and they were to make an action film a couple of minutes long.  We had a day to film, which is not a lot of time with action.

1st things 1st.  We had a morning of fight choreography with director John Masiello and fight teacher Igor Breakenback at his MMA gym (!).  Just the idea that I was doing a fight rehearsal (which I can do) at an MMA gym (which scared the pants off me) was a challenge. Seton Pollock (the Newman to my Seinfeld) was skipping rope like Rocky when I entered the Octagon (no exaggeration).  Of course I can’t skip rope but I gave it the old college try. Ahh college was a good 16 years ago but hey I’m not total fairy floss.

The fight lesson went well.  We had bags of fun and did some great work but it was a lot to remember.  Fight dialogue is as hard to remember as regular dialogue… except if you get it wrong you are slightly more likely to sprain your face.

Foxtel Camera Challenge

What’s my line?

The next day we filmed.  It was a torrential weather outside but nice and cozy in the deserted Foxtel building at North Ryde on a public holiday. The warmth came from the crew and cast.  Such a great gang and ridiculously talented.  We did a LOT of work in the office.  I was clocked with a stunt coffee mug which looks great and worked brilliantly. Seton and I fought under the caring guidance of Igor (a kinder guy you cannot help to meet) and we were safe and looked after.

John emulated a load of camera styles that came together fantastically.  The final product looks amazing.  A visual feast.  I hope that it sees public viewing someday.  Also would love to work with any of the crew again in the future.

FOLLOW UP. – Here it is for your entertainment!! Enjoy

COLD BLOODED

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44849187 w=585]

Revenge of the Nerds, NERDS!

Had a long weekend of gaming at the EYE-CON RPG convention over the long weekend.  It was a wonderful weekend of hilarious, exciting and some disappointing games leading ot a rollercoaster ride of an event.  But first some qualifiers.

What is a role playing game?  If I had a dollar for, “is it a computer game?” (nope that’s a …computer game) “Do you dress up and put on silly voices?” (nope that’s my day job). Well as described by wikipaedia – “A role-playing game  is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative through a process of structured decision-making and character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines (and chance; ala dice). The original form (sometimes called a tabletop RPG) is conducted through discussion. An arranger called a game master (GM) usually decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.

That being said it’s really interesting to me as an actor what drives other people to this hobby and how do they interact with it.  Over the weekend I found a great amount of classy acting in the guise of escapism.  People playing covert Nazi’s with their own agenda or insanely explosive Goblins, all with characterizations that I’d envy to have in an improv class, and that I found myself interacting with gleeful abandon.

At the low points like most games we were stuck haggling over rules, but the heights were when we were haggling over character motivations and thwarting schemes. In essence we were acting in complex improv dramady and loving it. eg: A George Peppard like ex-army boss played by me (professional actor) with the Nazi/student to my left, the Italian Resistance Fighter/Actuary on my right and the Allied paratrooper/IT tech at the end of the table, all looking at each other as suspiciously as the character list of Reservoir Dogs.

The acting was engaging and funny, all well motivated and for the most part with an idea of character.  I think for that reason we were all on a level playing field regardless of acting experience.  We were all solidly in our imaginations with respect to the setting and played our successes and failures at the whim of dice with convincing aplomb. All this without standing up from the table, wearing a crazy costume (outside of the Sheldon Cooper wardrobe we all seemed to have raided) or having met one another before.  People had traveled interstate with pals and stayed at the YHA to be there.  The commitment to having fun was equally as impressive.

It’s good to know that what I feel as the camaraderie of acting occurs outside of the biz, and that anyone with a solid character motivation can pull of some fine acting feats.  That and it was a blast of a time. All in all I write off EYE-CON 2012 as a success. Bring on the next one.