Daniel Harding on being a Filmmaker

danile harding 

So what attracts you to film?
I’ve always been slightly obsessed with film, and even from a young age I would beg my mum to take me to the video store so we could rent something and I’d then watch it two or three times before we returned it the next morning. But it’s hard to pin point what exactly attracts me to film. For me, I think ‘film’ encompasses a range of different art forms I am interested in – writing and photography for example, but I also love the collaboration with the actors and compiling the footage into a coherent story. Film has everything.

What filmmakers inspire you?
Recently it’s been the more independent filmmakers who have inspired me most – perhaps because as I get older I am looking at ways to get my work seen, and they are closer to my level. So filmmakers like Jeff Nichols, Jeremy Saulnier and Ben Wheatley are ones to take an interest in.

When did you decide to start making your own short films?
When I was 23.5 years old. I had just left uni and I didn’t fancy joining a production company and ‘working my way up.’ I had saved up enough money whilst I was uni to buy all my own equipment.

What is the toughest part of the filmmaking process ?
It’s a fifty-fifty between funding and casting. It is hard to juggle two jobs in order for one to pay for the other, and then casting is just a stressful and anxious process as you want to get the right people, and it often requires a lot of staring at a screen watching showreels – it does help me to realise ‘who’ the characters are though.

What advise do you give to new filmmaker?
The more you do the better and learn to let go – you will get hung up on ‘mistakes’, but learn from them and move on to the next project.

Tell us your best and worst time filmmaking?
Best time was shooting The Missing Hand, as I was giggling the whole way through, and the worst is either shooting Loop (when it was a very cold) or Killer Bird (a production too big for me to handle by myself).

What would you never scrimp on when putting a budget together for a short film?
Paying people! If you pay, it gives your the control and freedom to get the right people. You are a professional production and it will get treated as such. And also, leave budget for music.

Tell us about your current project?
So I’ve got numerous projects in various stages of production. The next one I am shooting at the end of June is called Man In A Suit and it’s short drama about a new government initiative set up to reduce unemployment. I’ve just released Toast online, which is a ‘one minute, one shot, existential comedy about bread’, and I am just about to start editing a new one called Two Pound Forty Pence which is a nightmarish-thriller about a guy who is pursued by a beggar.

What is your next plans
Figuring out a way to produce a feature film.

At Actors Awareness we encourage diversity in film, how do you apply this when casting your shorts?
I think we should all be more aware about diversity and it’s importance. I have to admit that I don’t consciously choose to be ‘diverse’ when casting, but I also don’t restrict my castings either. I don’t look at class, ethnicity or physical characteristics when casting. But for me it all comes down to the character on the page and who is the best choice to bring that to life.

Where do you look to get crew and cast for film projects?
Either through networking or casting sites like Casting Call Pro.

Check out Toast on Vimeo

The Mono Box

mono box

THE MONO BOX is a collaborative, not-for-profit project that provides actors and directors  with affordable access to a unique, ever-growing collection of plays donated by industry professionals.

They provide actors and directors access to an extensive collection of plays donated entirely by industry professionals. They support actors to find suitable monologues/scenes for auditions and showcases in a relaxed, informal environment and deliver affordable workshops, direction and Q&A sessions to support actors’ development.

They invite professional actors, directors and playwrights to be in their a collective which fosters and nurtures creative relationships.

Speech Surgeries are monthly events that inspire, nurture and inform actors of the parts and playwrights available to them. Whether you’re looking for a new audition speech or want some advice, Speech Surgeries give actors and directors alike an opportunity to discover plays and ask searching questions in an open, relaxed environment.

NEXT SPEECH SURGERY:  Sunday 10th April  @ 10am – 2.30pm LOCATION: Old Vic New Voices Workrooms, 16 Drummond Road, Bermondsey, SE16 4EE

Or you can have one on one session. They can offer new speech ideas if you’re in need, re-direction, audition technique, advice or just the experience of doing your speeches in front of someone other than your Mum before an audition. Email hello@themonobox.co.uk for more details or to book a session

Check out MonoBox events at  www.monobox.co.uk/#!events/cv9l. They have so many affordable workshops and events by leading industry professionals.

Interview with Simon Nader

 

simon nader face

So you are a actor/director, when did you realise acting was something you wanted to do? How did you come to direct?

“Well… I was on stage as a little fat kid aged 10 or 11 and hammed the hell out of my role in Rumble wats it name as The King. Thank Christ is was comedy, I learned how much fun it could be hearing other people have fun and that was it! Actor. Job. Done. As for directing, I had trained at drama school in my twenties, done quite a bit of theatre and film work and assisted a few friends before I was offered the chance to direct a play called My Boy Jack by David Haig. As I had studied scenography as part of my degree pre-drama school, I felt it was a good chance to put my skill set  to the test and basically got the gig by being seen on stage as Timon of Athens by the producers. They liked my characterisation so thought “hmm, give him a go as a director!” So I did, and I loved it!


What do you love about theatre?

Well, if you mean creating it, I love the storytelling element, cliched as that maybe! Not necessarily just through the words either as I work quite visually, I am interested in the imagery you can create as a company with movement and the sound and light for me is integral to creating beautiful moments of atmosphere and tension. As an audience member as well as theatre maker, the best bit is always the same though – transporting characters and the audience to other worlds and making them care.


You also work allot in television, what do you like about filming?

Actually, the very thing I hated when I first started – stopping and starting! I love the fact that screen acting has just as much, if not more, technical craft involved to create work that not only is believable, but looks as good as possible on screen at each moment. I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of big US TV productions and you really learn a lot from American actors and experienced directors as so much dedication goes into the craft to make it look as good as possible. I also love stepping into a huge set and there being just an army of people working together. It’s awesome! Just as in theatre, it’s a collaborative process with a lot of attention to detail involved by a lot of people.

You direct a youth company in peterborough, tell us bit about your role there?

Ok, so I work with The Young Actors Company in Peterborough and Cambridge, we have been going nearly 50 years and I absolutely love it. I treat the students the same way as adult actors, which they not only appreciate, but benefit from. Yes, we have a lot of fun, but we devise work that says “something” and essentially I try and give them a taste of drama school training as we create theatre and practice the various acting techniques to build confidence and hone craft. 

You are currently taking 2 plays to the Edinburgh fringe 2016, a man with many jobs! Can you tell us bit about the plays?

The show I am directing is very exciting – The Monologues of a Tired Nurse, written by an actual nurse who is now also training as a professional actress, will be at The Space. It’s a two hander with very talented actresses playing the nurses and it’s moving and funny, and very raw. We want people to not have a stereotypical view of nursing, but really think about the human condition. The human condition in all its facets – we literally examine it! 
 
I’m also in, and the co-creator of, a ridiculous, spectacular B-Movie homage called (it’s a catchy title): Escape From The Planet of the Day That Time Forgot! Myself, actor/director Katherine Hurst and actor/director Gavin Robertson, both renowned particularly for their physical theatre work, have designed a show that we unashamedly want people to just sit back and enjoy. We are at Assembly Roxy for the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s our first collaboration since the acclaimed The Other Side in 2009. We’re also touring internationally. Both Katherine and Gavin are award winning creatives so it is always fun and inspiring to work with them.

You have been to Edinburgh numerous times over the years, what advise would you give to people heading there this year?

Save your money in advance, it can get VERY expensive… Also, don’t underestimate the power of marketing and getting the reviewers in early if you can sway people. Be nice to everyone as word of mouth really is hugely important and for God’s sake, don’t take any shows up there you don’t put the appropriate effort into. It can get pretty harsh, pretty quickly and you get out what you put in… don’t just do it to “do the festival.”

What do you like about the roles of actor and director, do you prefer one over the other?

They both have their attractions and in all honesty, it varies job to job. I love the challenge of acting in terms of the characterisation and making people believe what they are seeing and very importantly, to connect with the other actors in a company on stage as if you are really there. It’s beautiful to create emotion and art and I like to play even during a long run, and go with my feelings, instincts and reactions and have that from the others too and see what happens! I love that no two performances or on screen, takes are the same and I love that little choices can alter the fabric of meaning hugely. As a director, I’d say stress levels are much higher, but the payoffs are huge! You get to see other people work up close and to gain inspiration from everyone’s gifts to create great art. I also love seeing someone progress in confidence as we work together and try to tell a story the way we feel it should be done. 

What would you tell your younger self?

Don’t be such a doubter. Don’t try to overcompensate for your lack of self belief by trying to prove yourself. Trying too hard usually results in bad results.

You also coach people on monologues and have sat on drama school panels. What advise do you give those people auditioning for drama school?

Trust that the people there on panels want you to do well. At the end of the day, you have no idea what panels or directors, casting directors for that matter are really looking for from you. If you are worrying about what they are thinking you’re not being yourself and that is your biggest selling point. If you can eliminate that and then work the monologues a little with some outside advice to help make bold choices then you will feel better and have a better chance of doing well. Generally I don’t care how well someone can learn lines. I do care about whether they have connected with the emotion of it and can adapt to direction. You do not need to be PERFECT. It doesn’t exist and you are going to drama school to learn the technical skills as much as anything else. Panels are not looking for a finished article. What would be the point?! I also care about how you come across as a person. Be lovely, just be yourself and make mistakes then recover confidently, don’t be arrogant and defensive.

Who inspires you?

Artists who care about the work, not just the adulation or the money. That goes for people who make great music and other art forms, as well as actors. My students also inspire me. The way young people can be unaware of their instinctual gifts and come up with something that is more honest and clever than the most experienced professional is always an inspiration.

What issues to feel you face most int he industry?

I think it takes time to take your ego out of it for a lot of people. I’ll use myself as an example as for a while, I wanted to be seen a certain way, hard man types and such and such. Sometimes we can be afraid to look weak, even if that is character but of course, that is ridiculous! If that is your type, embrace it. I got hung up on knowing martial arts, being bald so therefore looking a certain way but physically, I’m quite slight and short so I’ll never be in constant work that way! What I have learned to love is playing weakness, weaselly types, even taciturn outcasts or nice guys. So I’d say my challenge was accepting my type!

Do feel the industry is inclusive and diverse? your thoughts?

I do not feel it is as diverse as it should be at all. I have worked in casting and as an agent as well as my work on stage and screen and one thing I’m certain about is that unless roles are specifically detailed as “other” the establishment which is largely white and middle or upper middle class in England see all roles through those eyes unless they are specifically labelled “disabled”, “gay,” “black” or “Arab” etc. I feel that Hollywood does not get off scot-free either because of the very specificity of identity and perception of type. Bad guys are Middle Eastern or Upper Class English! Heroes in blockbusters are all supermodels or body builders. Now this is not necessarily all the fault of the production companies and the industry – there is an element to humanity and we see it reflected in the media all the time, where people want to see the ideal, see what they are not, as that seems to be shiny perfection. So the industry reflects that as much as the industry creates it! So diversity in the industry is an interview in itself…

Do you feel it is important for an actor to do many roles as yourself and be the creator of their own work? 

I think it depends on each person and what they prefer for themselves. Personally, I like creating through devising and writing as much as I like getting work from other sources too, the collaborations are really interesting. But, as I get older I realise that the important things is to enjoy what you do. If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong!

Adi Aifa

ada

So Adi what inspired you to act?
I get asked that question a lot, and I think I was inspired by the magic of it all. I have loved performing since my first ballet class aged 5. From then I found a love of acting as a means of escape from reality. In my characters lives I could become anyone I wanted to.

You have a wide range of experience, but you seem to lend towards film, what makes film special to you?
I love to watch film and I love to make film. I think it’s because the stories resonate with an audience deeper on film. I love to tell stories through film, develop my characters…I love everything about film-the marriage of the actors, the story, the beautiful shots and the compelling music.

You made a short film recently, can you tell our readers a bit about it? What is the message? Why you wanted to make it? where the idea came from?
I had the idea a long time ago. My first reason was that I wanted to create something that would show off my skill set as an actress and challenge me, but also, most importantly I wanted strong female leads. The story is based around some issues I have experienced directly or issues that have effected people I know. I knew that I wanted to write a story that made an impact, that made people ask questions and ultimately wanted to know more…

What did you find most challenging about the filming progress?
There are often challenges in anything we pursue. But I’d say the most challenging aspects where keeping to time schedules and working with the unpredictable outdoor weather conditions which effects light and sound. I’d also say getting everyone available to film at the same time was a challenges. Hence why the film is yet to be completed.

Did you fund the film yourself? You got some money rom Kickstarter, was this a good resource?
I did fund the film myself, along with the help of Kickstarter and I would definitely recommend it to independent film makers. The one thing which surprised me, was how many people believed in me and my idea.

Did you have any particular problems that you had to solve while making your short?
When filming there are sometimes small problems such as perhaps continuity issues, or equipment failing. We had a few issues with sound and had to ADR some scenes. Apart from that the film has been an absolute dream.

You won a award for Best Actress NAFCA (African Oscars) For your part in Ortega and His Enemies as Diaspora 2014. This must have felt good!
Yes! It was a very sureal moment. I didn’t expect to win as I up against some experienced and known actresses. But it’s such a wonderful feeling to be recognised as being good at something you’re passionate about and you believe in.

At the Oscars recently there was a distinct lack of diversity in the nominees, how do you feel about this?
I think it’s good that people are talking about it, and I do feel that the oscars has not made a true representation of the diverse talent that’s out there. but I also worry that because of the uproar they may feel pressure to nominate and award black and ethnic minorities just so they don’t get back lash from the public. That would not be helpful at all. I have though lost a lot of respect for the oscars, the debate has brought to light how many flaws there are in its process.
How do you feel the industry needs to address the issue of recognising and creating opportunities for all ethitcies
I like the thought of having colour blind casting. I like that anybody of any ethnicity or gender could play a certain role and not be asked questions. It would be nice to not be stereotyped into a role, it would be nice if mainstream a media outlets considered the talent and work from all ethnicities. We need to be positively and properly represented on the screens and on stage. Can we not see colour for little bit??

2.30 Productions

 

230 productions

2.30 was set up by actor / writers PJ Selby, Sacharissa Claxton &
Frankie Williams, with the aim of creating opportunities for
themselves and others by collaborating with new talent across the
board.

2.30 have just finished their first project, a comedy series entitled
‘Shilpa’. Look out for the trailer which will be released this month
They are now in production for their new comedy series ‘Baybes of a
Feather’ which will feature on their YouTube channel.

As well as quirky, off-the-wall comedy sketches, they are in
pre-production for three short films to be released in 2016. They are
always on the look out to collaborate with actors, writers, directors
and crew and believe networking and supporting others’ work is the way
to succeed in this industry. Follow them on twitter (@230_Productions)
and Facebook (2.30Productions) for updates, castings or just to drop
by and say hello!

2.30 productions are interested in connecting with people and sharing ideas at future scratch nights and secret film nights that we’ll be organising. So remember to look out for the Actor Awareness events and come mingle.

An actors job is ever evolving and we need to come together, collaborate and help each other in moving forward, ideas can grow with hard work, commitment and passion.

Actor Awareness Message

actor

 

What was your inspiration behind the film?

Well it all came from Tom posting on Facebook looking for a writer, what for I had no idea at the time but I said I was up for a challenge. Then he explained that he was (at the time I think) looking for a play to illustrate the point of the then unnamed Actor Awareness campaign. I suggested a film as it is easy to share and that was that! As for the content it all comes from personal experience. Though I’ve never lived with a Simon I have certainly met them; people who have just been able to go to Drama School because their parents just paid, and they have no idea a lot of the time that there are people like us out there. That’s not a criticism of such people, why would they be aware? But in that last scene, John I think is very much mouth piece to my own frustrations as an actor; so that piece was very personal to me, and I agonised over it, treading the line between making the point pissing people off. It just had to be clear from the word go that this was not a demonising film, and I think by-and-large we achieved that.

What was the biggest struggle?

Oh so many. We were funded very generously by our supporters on Indiegogo, but still the budget was tight. We had expenses all over the place and people coming from all over the country, so trying to make a no-expense-spared film with so-many-expenses-spared was up there. But biggest of all we had some pretty catastrophic technical issues in Post and lost a huge amount of footage. Thankfully James (Hayman) of Flawless Films in a genius in the edit suite and was a genius on set so he managed to create the film anyway, but it set the release date back about a month or so.

What message do you think this film sends to the industry?

I think the message has to be that art, in all its forms but in this case acting, should not and cannot be dictated by money and finance. We find ourselves in a situation now where casting directors are writing articles titled, ‘Where have all the working class actors gone,’ and national treasures like Julie Walters are coming out very publicly and saying she would not have made it if she started out in today’s climate. Can you imagine an acting world without Julie Walters? And how many Julie Walters are there out there right now thinking, “I’d love to be an actor but I can’t afford it,” And because of finances, the next generation is robbed of great and wonderful talent of that Julie-Walters-in-the-making. I think that has to be the message of the film; change or we all end up poorer for it. To quote the film, “It’s in their own best f***ing interest.”

Tell us more about Type40Films and future projects.

Type40Films has grown out of ‘The Industry’, and so it has at it’s heart that will to make films for good, rather than making them for the sake of making films, not that there’s anything wrong with that! I want it to have an intrinsic conscience to it, and I can’t give much away at the moment, but our next big project well and truly follows that. It is in conjunction with a charity supporting a very very worthy cause and that will be what the film is about. It’s going to be quite an arty film I think, different tone to ‘The Industry’. It will be longer so we’re looking to push a few more boundaries!  Keep tuned in to our Twitter and Facebook feeds because there will be some news coming very soon about how you actors might be able to get involved.

Having said all that there is some talk of shooting a tiny little horror film, just for fun! So again, watch this space!

Finally, if you could change one thing in the industry right now, what would it be?

I think it would be extend the student loan system to Drama Schools. So those fees don’t go away, the same as Uni, but it becomes available to wider variety of people. I can’t see why it would be an issue really; they still get their money, student finance of various areas still do business, in fact more. So what’s the issue?

And stop charging people to audition. I mean, seriously? Very strange thing to do.

Here is link to the film, please go and watch

http://t.co/M9cWvDiVf4