How did you come to acting?
Slowly and painfully. My mother was very keen on getting me into drama at a young age. She herself was a performer, from stunt work, to stand up comedy, to TV, Film and Radio, she had done it all and knew that at the very least, performing was a confidence builder, so she was keen to nudge me through the door. I went to Stage Coach when I was 7, accidentally locked myself in a toilet, cried and didn’t go back for almost 10 years. I reluctantly took part in a few school plays when I was growing up and I was just the worst, but I was finding myself and on reflection, a small part of me enjoyed it. The moment it clicked for me, the moment I knew it was the only thing I ever wanted to do in my entire life, wasn’t sudden and didn’t hit me like a bolt of lightning, it came over time and slowly built until one day in 6th form I looked back, and I could actually see my progress. I could see that I used to be a certain level and that I wasn’t like that anymore, I’d improved and i’d enjoyed working to figure out ways in which I could create a more believable performance. That gave me a hell of a lot of faith in the idea that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. I wasn’t born with a natural talent, I wasn’t born with a desire to act, simply a desire to get copious amounts of attention and then that developed into wanting to actually DESERVE that attention and any attention I got that I feel wasn’t deserved, I’d just think ‘Yeah but what if you saw me do it better?’ and now because of that I can never be truly happy and I am stuck in vicious circle of always wanting more…L.O.L.
What difference is there in Tv and film for you?
Everything. It’s just completely different in my eyes. When I performed my first ever professional showreel scene, I was told I was acting 100% and I need to act 20% because it’s camera. This advice really slowed down my progress with acting for camera. I was majorly underacting for a good half a year if not longer. When you act for camera, you are not acting less, that’s bollocks. You’re acting to someone right in front of you. In theatre, you’re acting to someone at the back of a huge room. They’re both as real as each other. The reason theatre is large is because people need to see you who have bought the cheap seats. Camera is right there and will see right through you if you’re lying and I absolutely love it. It’s so exciting. The idea that you can convince people you are someone else, in a medium which is so up close and personal is just awesome and I look forward to every opportunity I get to be in front of camera to enhance that ability. I won’t stop until I’m the best liar in the world.
When and why did you decide to start your own production company?
2014! I had a premiere in LA for a film I was in and I wanted to take a friend so I took my mate Aran who is a cinematographer and we made a Vlog. Which was just ridiculous and immature and can never be seen by the world. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R37SIOFTrpE Once we got back, despite the vlog being purely a joke, it actually came out really well. Aran is just phenominal at what he does, he sets the bar so high on what looks good so despite this vlog having no thought to it, no planning, obviously no money, it actually came out really well! So from there I couldn’t help but think what we could do if we actually put thought into making something. So that’s how it got going. I wanted to create films and act in them and Aran wanted to film them.
Whats your biggest challenge to date?
I was called to act in a film in Tunisia, I was very smack bang in the middle of really trying to move from theatre to film at this point so my acting was, at times, fairly questionable. In my head I was just trying to stay true to the character and keep my movements more precise. So when the American director asked me to act more Hollywood, less BBC acting, I was extremely confused. At one hand I was trying to not over-act but he wanted me…to…what? I dunno. Still don’t.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
Acting wise I have a few definite maybes next year, I’m in talks with award winning author Linda Dunscombe to work on her next feature film which is exciting. In terms of film making, I am looking to direct my first feature, likely early next year! Can’t say too much about it yet but I have a HUGE amount of faith in it, as anyone should with their own project because it’ll make them poorer than they’ve ever been before (but rich with happiness)(Awh).
As an Independant filmmaker, how do you fund your projects?
At this point I have only done shorts so I have saved up and spent my own money, leaving enough for a can of beans to keep me going for the week…I’m lying…I spend a lot of money on food ok? Too much. It’s a problem. But I am just now creating my first ever package to show private investors. I’m excited about it. After creating Crucible Films and managing the business side of things i’ve learnt a hell of a lot and I genuinely feel I can raise the 100K i’m looking for. 100k is nothing. It’s peanuts, which in many ways is actually harder to get than 3M because people don’t feel you can make a profitable product with such a low sum. But I can and I will. I’ve worked out the maths and I got a B in maths. I think a B+ in additional maths as well so…take that as you will. A lot of people go through crowd funding and I’m not a fan. I only want to go that route for a specific factor of the film. For example, acquiring a named actor. This way people who are investing know that without them the film will be made and it’s going to be great but with their help it can be incredible and get further. So basically there’s already a higher aim than just making the film.
What advise would you give yourself when first starting out?
Get a headshot and showreel booked on day 1. Imagine how many actors there are out there and that’s your competition. Knock around half of that off if you have a showreel and headshot. It just places you head and shoulders above the rest. Professionals won’t even look at you if you don’t have them, so get them ASAP. It’s so hard to get work when you have everything, so why would you make that even harder. Obviously the answer to that is money, a showreel can be pricey, but grab anything you can. Film a nice clear, well lit monologue on your phone and use that while you wait for footage to come through. That’s already tonnes better than nothing! Casting directors just want to see what you look like on camera so get it done any way you can.
If you were making your first short again what would you definitely do and not do?
Ah ‘Pundemic’ my film about a Pandemic of Puns. Get it? Of course you do, it’s genius. It’s currently finishing off the festival circuit and made it into a few festivals so for a first ever film, I am very happy with it. As with everything you do you look back and think, that’s not so great, this could be better, but with that being said, you have to make mistakes to improve. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I’d change because I loved every second and most changes would be money related, so it’d be a case of, more kit, more crew. The main thing is organising the limited time you have. I was very much ‘Ah yeah this shot will take like 30 minutes’ because my technical knowledge was limited so you have to give yourself time and plan and prepare so much. Assume everything will go wrong and then you’ll have an answer for when it does.
Any top advise for new filmakers?
It’s too early days for me to be dishing out gems of wisdom regarding film making, i’m still finding my feet with it all but just get in there and do it. Too many people keep finding something to wait for and you only improve by getting stuck in. You can make a short over a weekend and whack so laurels on it from festivals. With that comes nominations. Directing, Acting, Writing all of it. You could become award winning thanks to a weekend.
In this industry today what do you feel is a hurdle?
Money. We need it. Gimmie.
You are also a director, what do you love about directing?
I never expected to go into directing. When I started making films my intention was to create my own acting opportunities while I wait for my agent to get me work their end. I didn’t want to just sit and do nothing and stare at CCP, crying onto a poster I printed out of a cat hanging from a ceiling that says ‘Hang in there’. I wrote scripts, saw myself in a role, but then when the time came to give the script to someone to direct, I seriously didn’t want to. At all. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and I had no one else I felt I could rely on to deliver that. So I did it myself. I loved it. It was such an incredible experience because I felt like a trainee in many ways and it gave me a HUGE insight into acting and the timings it takes for crew to set up and just made me appreciate film so much more. I love discussing with actors how I envision the scene and they’re character’s thought process, and when I see them deliver that it makes me so happy, then on top of that, when they deliver something slightly different to what I was looking for and it’s awesome I’m like ‘Whaaaaaat?!’ because it opens my eyes even more and teaches me something new. I think a lot of people get caught up in the idea that a Director knows all because he has to because he is in control of everything. That’s not true at all. I think the Director needs to know exactly what he wants but be open to the idea that something else could prop up and if you’re open to it, you could run with that and create something even more awesome.
Do you feel as a actor you are able to direct better?
In one sense, yes, being an actor helps me communicate with other actors more easily, I mean all actors to some extent have experiences similar things, we’ve all been to classes, auditions, headshots, showreels, received 100’s of no’s and 1 yes and then they ask you to get topless and you say ‘But that wasn’t in the breakdown’ and they say ‘just do it Calvert’ and then you cry and take your top off. We’ve all been there. So that does help when I’m explaining a thought process or a character’s objective in a scene. Plus, after being an actor on sets that don’t feed you and don’t acknowledge that you’re freezing etc, it does make me more aware of the cast and crew and if they’re ok and comfortable. At the end of the day, a happy cast and crew is more valuable than anything because yes we’re making a film but 1. We’re doing it because we’ve chosen to be in a really difficult industry, so it should be damn fun, that’s why we chose it right?! And 2. No one gives there best when they’re cold and hungry. Sometimes filming goes on longer, that’s the way it is, so people can’t be uncomfortable or they just won’t want to be there and that sucks. The only reason I’d say no, an actor background doesn’t help in some sense, is that I started off with a severe lack of knowledge about the technical side of things, cameras, lighting etc, I had no idea. So that was a roadblock for a while, but like I say with experience comes…well…experience…and over time I did my research and picked it up.