That date looks like a good one for the first blog of the year, no? Maybe not but it’s the first day I’ve had time to in a while, so I’m going to anyway.
As a child of two cultures, I am currently “in-between” New Year’s so to speak. I use this time to put in place resolutions so they become more like habit by the time the second (and favourite) New Year comes around. This year’s resolution is to write more, do more and make more. Write more blogs and write more scripts. I have a few in the pipeline but some, that started off as for stage, I now feel might be better off as a film or short so after I’ve written and edited them, I’ll try and get them made. What it boils down to is that this year, I’ll be investing in my career.
On Friday, I was lucky enough to be at the 4Talent at the Actors Centre and it was great. First up with a talk and Q&A by the delectable Zawe Ashton about her career and choices so far. After that, the day split up into 3 streams: TV presenting which (considering the demise of T4) was incredibly popular, an Intro to Acting with the Actors Centre and a Comedy Sketch writing group, where I went, which wasn’t so popular but was insightful and interesting to be a part of.
The most valuable tip I got from the day was: don’t over-egg your pudding.
Sometimes you get a great idea, and another, and another (lucky you!) and the greatest idea you have, or so you think, is to bundle them all together. In comedy, as in most cases, it just doesn’t work: Keep it simple, keep it safe. But not too safe. That was just for filmic reference purpose. (I finally went to see The Hobbit yesterday!) Another thing is, it’s amazing how long you can keep a gag going for: how you can extract maximum gags from one idea.
After lunch, we headed back in for talks from Jaimie D’Cruz, (director of Academy award-nominated Exit Through The Gift Shop) from ACME Films whose forthcoming production Run with Olivia Coleman and Katie Leung will be shown on Channel 4 in March; Amy Hubbard (casting director for Trilogies: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings); Hoxton Street Management (agencies for actors, specialising in raw talent) as well as some of their artists. Which was followed by a wider Q&A with the speakers, workshop leaders and a chap from Drama UK (which is the merged National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) and the Conference of Drama Schools (CDS)) telling us the world had not ended with the increase in uni fees.
All-in-all an interesting time was had, with lots learnt and friends-in-the-making met. How would you follow that up? Well, if you were me, and I am, I’d be fortunate enough to have a free ticket to the London Short Film Festival‘s Comedy shorts event “Don’t Make me Laugh” at the BFI, from Ideastap. It’s great to see and hear about people making their own shorts as well as the advice that they can provide from all the lessons they learnt through their experience. Favourite lessons I picked up were:
- Get a bloody good producer
- Get a bloody good name on board (more on that later)
- Get some bloody patience (especially if you’re making a short by calling in favours)
- But most importantly, just get on with it!
Firstly, it’s ideal to get funding for these projects so you can pay people (although mates are always willing to help out, you’ll have to wait for them to finish their day jobs first) and secondly, find someone who is super-organised and brilliant to produce it for you or a headache is a high possibility.
One thing a director said was: find a name to attach to your script. At the time, they were talking about their director but another reiterated it about actors. This was an interesting juxtaposition to what Amy Hubbard had said about bigger budget films. Yes, it is definitely easier to get funding and/or people on board if you have a name attached to a project but it also spawns a cyclical problem that “stars” are expected to feature in shorts. So what if you don’t have access to any big names, especially to pull in favours? What if you can’t pay them? Something that Amy said stuck in my mind: if you want to change this, go see independents without big names in the first week, do the talking with your wallet. Something I shall endeavour to do from now on!
Anyway, things aren’t all full of doom and gloom and I’m looking forward to the challenges that I’ll be facing in writing, producing and acting that will be my 2013. To inspire you, or just to make you smile, here’s a selection of shorts from yesterday available online.