Thursday, 15 December 2011

Silent Night

I'm sorry for the unforgivable 10 day absense. I'd love to say that this has been down to me being incredibly busy and that I haven't had a second to sit down and write. Wouldn't it be grand if my nearly two week silence was down to me being so in demand that there was no possible way I could commit my fingers to my crumb-crammed keyboard. But of course, we know this isn't the case. The truth is that I haven't written because sadly I've had very little to write about. Because another year is coming to an end and as we're  gathering desperately bought presents, hoarding sickly sweet food and frantically trying to catch up with friends before the apocalypse supposedly descends upon us, the acting world has jammed the breaks on. There is nothing out there to be had. A few auditions are being offered here and there but these are either offering no money whatsoever or they're looking for everyone that I'm not.

Of course there are always down times in the world of acting. If you believed every thesp that you speak to then there's never a good time. The beginning of the year is slow to take off, Spring is ok but then theatres are worrying about Edinburgh. Summer is notoriously bad as most of the world inhabits the Scottish capital for a month, everyone comes back and all anyone's worrying about is who to cast as Buttons and then it's Christmas and there's never any point starting anything then. So, if the acting folklore is to be believed, there's about two days in April when it's a good time to be a performer. The rest of the time you may as well admit defeat and stay in bed.

I realise I should either be distraught at this lack of work or using this time off to do incredibly productive things. However, I'm still stuck in the novelty of having days off. Having worked full time for two years in a job I pretty much despised, the prospect of waking up late and being able to meander round in my onesi is still to great for me to turn down. Every morning I've woken up and considered the possibility of doing something a bit more proactive but instead I find myself gazing at Holly and Phil and entering countless online competitions in the hope of winning so much tat that I may never have to work again. I imagine this paints quite the pathetic picture but if you realised just how comfy and cosy I am then you'd most definitely aim your pity elsewhere.

And my laziness isn't being helped by being offered a job that I didn't even apply for. On Monday I received an email asking if I'd be part of a photo shoot in January. It's well paid, for a good cause and the only thing I did to get the job was to exist. The Lethargy Devil on my left shoulder has taken this as its biggest victory yet and my right shouldered Enterprising Angel has accepted defeat and gone into hibernation until the new year. Sadly it seems when panto season descends and the acting world embarks upon it's annual meltdown, the only choice is to settle down with a glass of sherry and a box of Quality Street and enjoy the slow, cosy, sleigh-belled ride.

Monday, 5 December 2011

This Is A Man's World

I've harped on quite a bit about how much easier it would be to be an actor who possesses man bits. Check any casting website and you'll see that the amount of roles out there for the boys are far greater. I often think my Spotlight jobs feed has broken as hour after hour passes with no new jobs posted. However, a quick check to the full feed and there's a whole plethora of parts reveal themselves, all ready and waiting for the few men struggling to find acting work. Although there's absolutely nothing I can do it about it, it's still bloody frustrating because there's absolutely nothing that I can do about it. I mean, I realise that I could start writing my own stuff. I could actually invest some time, get my head down and look into putting on something myself. Or, more likely, I could look into sex-change operations.

So if I've already wittered on about this, why am I going on about it all over again? Well, I'll tell you why. It's because I woke up to this news:

On first glance, this sounded like excellent news. I'm one of the few people left on the planet who still hasn't seen Jerusalem but all I've heard is people raving about how good he is so I can only imagine that this is wonderful news and should mean audiences will flock there in their droves. I was a little annoyed that two lead roles were given to the same actor as surely it's far nicer to spread the love around a bit and let everyone have a bite of the juicy apple but at least the good parts were going to a damn fine actor.

However, my happiness was short-lived when I carried on reading and saw that Shakespeare's Globe were producing plays under the title 'Original Practices' meaning that they are putting on all-male productions. I completely understand that this was how they liked to do things back in olden times before they invented women but haven't we moved on since then? Of course, it's nice to revisist these things and give audiences a sense of how theatre used to be but should it really be to the detriment of all the hard-working and deserving actresses out there? Isn't that what we have museums, documentaries and history lessons for? It's bloody hard enough getting work anyway and theatres such as the Globe can feel inpenetrable at the best of times so why are they making this member's only club even more exclusive? Female roles in Shakespeare are hard to come by at the best of times and I'm sure if you asked anyone to name the first five Shakespeare characters that came to their head, most, if not all, would be male characters. So why take away those few scraps left for us actresses and give them to the already over-worked men? Is it not enough that we're taught at school what theatre used to be like? Failing that, I'm pretty sure we've all seen Shakespeare in Love and all learnt a lot from Gwyneth Paltrow bandaging down her breastular area.

There's a total of three companies involved in producing this and I wonder if at any point, anyone piped up and said that it might be nice if there were a few lady types involved. I imagine the second anyone dared mention putting a woman in there somewhere, they were shouted down and were made to realise that it would be a lot easier all round if they just let the men have their fun on stage and let the womenfolk stay behind and earn their living in a call centre where they belong.

I'd love to think that someone will prove my whole blog wrong now and announce a whole season of all-female productions. Honestly theatres. Do it. I dare you to make me feel ridiculous for getting up on my feminist high horse and put on a whole host of plays where women, for once, get to take centre stage. Hmmmm, looks like I'm going to be on this horse for quite a while. Anyone got a comfier saddle?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Saying No

I think you know when you've got to an OK place with yourself when you can finally say no to a job.  Many's the time that I've said yes to a job, knowing full well that I'll gain very little from it. I was taught at drama school to consider the three K's when considering a job. Firstly I thought this meant that I had to consult the KKK whenever a job came my way. I know agents can be a little forceful at times but this really seemed a little extreme. Just as I started to consider whether I really wanted a racist in a pillowcase in charge of my career, it was then explained that the three K's stand for Kicks, Kudos and Kash. The idea is that if you can cover at least two of those then the job is probably worth doing. Since then I've used it for every job I've done and although it's not completely foolproof (it's responsible for finding me sat on a cold, damp warehouse floor for four hours while being blinded by glycerine as it dripped into my eyes) it's been extremely useful.

Yesterday a director I worked with recently got in touch as some friends of his were shooting a short film this weekend and the lead actress had gone awol so they needed someone else and he'd recommended me. Of course, it's always a honour to be recommended. Being kept in someone's mind is always a good thing and my ego enjoyed the little boost it was given on a dreary Thursday afternoon. I mean, it might just be that he had a think over who was likely to be free at such short notice and instantly thought of me but I like to think that it's more to do with my excellent technique and incredible presence....OK, it was clearly to do with my diary and it's incredible ability to remain empty at all times.

I'd originally planned to head home for the weekend and perform the monthly ritual of stealing as much food as possible and hauling it back to London. But I asked if I could see the script and it looked pretty good. It was a nice story, a lovely character and would be really useful for my showreel. However, the problem was that it was that the call times were exceedingly early (it would mean getting up a good two hours before it even starts to think about getting light), the shoot was far away and they weren't even covering expenses. It breaks my heart to turn down jobs because you never know what it will lead to and, more importantly, it gives me stuff to whinge about in my blogs. But I've come to realise that it's actually OK to say no to something, especially if you can't even tick off one of the magical K's. Also, our cupboards are looking very bare at the moment and that's something a short film will never, ever help with...

Thursday, 1 December 2011


I know, I know. I'm sorry. I realise I've probably ruined everyone's week by not posting a blog for days and days. I can imagine how you've been repeatedly clicking refresh, gazing longingly at the screen and desperately hoping for another whiny blog from me. I'm sure you've been going about your daily business in a bit of a daze, wondering what on earth has happened to that slightly annoying actress who'd probably get a lot more work if she didn't spend most of her time complaining about the work she does get. I realise how frustrating this must have been so I apologise but unfortunately our flat is currently without internet. Tensions are high and nerves are fraught as we are somehow expected to carry on as normal when we can't even watch a supposedly hilarious parody of something or other on YouTube at home without using up nearly all our data allowance in one sitting. I've also been a bit of a busy bee this week and so today has been the first day that I can actually put aside some time to buy a cafe's internet for the price of an overpriced coffee.

So here I am. You can call off the search parties and put the sniffer dogs to bed and sit back and listen to me whinge, moan and self-congratulate through overlong sentences, oddly spaced paragraphs and made up words....

Tuesday, although looking like any normal day, was probably the most productive I've had since the day I finally set up wireless internet and realised I could work in bed. I had a casting for an advert in the afternoon and, in true, Miss L style, I didn't have a clue what it was for. I apply for pretty much anything that offers money/experience/crisps so I apply for quite a lot of things regardless of what they're actually for. This job was advertised as being for a 'family brand' so I knew it must be safe. Last I heard, Hovis hadn't started including sex toys in with their multiseed loaves and John Lewis weren't selling fetish gear so I figured I'd be ok. Of course, there were numerous times while arranging the audition with the casting director that I could've asked but I didn't want to appear too demanding so I just kept quiet.

So I turned up on Tuesday afternoon without a clue. This should terrify me but unfortunately this now happens to be an almost daily occurence so I've learned to cope with the confusion and mind-niggling wonderings. The auditions were running late so I turned to my trusty iPhone to keep me entertained. I checked to see if there were any acting jobs to apply for and I saw a voiceover job that looked interesting. Despite having had a voicereel for nearly four years, I've yet to have one voiceover job so although it was practically unpaid, I decided to apply for it. Within minutes, my phone buzzed and it was a message from the director to say that I had the job. What? Just like that? I kept re-reading the message wondering if I'd managed to read between a lot of lines and decided to come up with my own conclusion. Finally my mind had decided that if no one else was going to give me a job then we'd just have to make up our own. But no, there it was in tiny writing in my hand. It was recording the next day and I probably accepted the job a bit too quickly but what the hell. Despite my inability to know what job I was waiting to audition for, I'd somehow applied for and got a role in the time it normally takes for me to lose a new cardigan (about 3 minutes.)

In the midst of my baffled euphoria, I was called into the casting. In the room were the casting director and the director of the piece. They welcomed me in and it was at that point that the casting director decided to go for lunch. I know I shouldn't take these things personally but I totally did. Surely this can't be good if the casting director takes one look at me and decides that this is the time that he least needs to be in the room. Did I look that incompetent that he could basically use me as an excuse to go on a break? Did I still smell like the packet of crisps that I'd inhaled minutes before the casting and that reminded him that he'd yet to eat? Who knows but what I do know is that the first few minutes of my audition were spent stood between two men while they discussed what flavour sandwiches they like. Finally CD leaves and I can get on with what I'm there to do. The advert was for a new website and they just needed me to deliver a few pieces to camera. It was all very lovely and, this isn't a word I use very much, the director was actually gushing about how pleased he was with what I did. I never think this but I actually got to the point of convincing myself that he was going to offer me the job there and then. Could I really secure two jobs in the space of ten minutes? Surely that would be kind of record that would get Roy Castle back from the dead? But of course that didn't happen and instead I was vaguely promised an answer by the end of the week which gives them a few days to look back over my inane witterings and make the fully informed and sensible decision not to cast me.

I should probably write a bit about the voiceover job but it was actually just very nice, very easy and surprisingly mishap free. Let's be thankful, for the sake of this whingy blog, that these jobs are extremely few and far between....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fateful Decisions

As promised, today’s blog will be what Tuesday’s should have been about. 

On Tuesday, I got to thinking about the first audition that I found for myself. I’ve never been particularly good at asking other people for help so although I love the kind of castings that an agent can secure for you, I love being able to find my own work. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction in 2009 when I worked out that I made more money from the jobs that I got myself than the ones that my agent got for me. I mean that may have more to do with the fact that my agent was hugely useless and would regularly put me up for roles that were a dubious match for me at best. The best was probably when I was put up to play a 40 year old Indian businesswoman. There is many a day when I’m not looking my bestest but despite the crisp and wine based abuse I regularly put my body through on a daily basis, I somehow look slightly younger than I actually am. So, imagine my horror when, at the age of 24, I read the casting brief in the waiting room (my agent wasn’t one for helping make sure I was prepared beforehand) that I was up for the role of someone 16 years older than myself.

So you can see why I was happier to be looking for stuff on my own but of course, at this early stage in my career I didn’t realise how incompetent my agent would very quickly become so I thought that auditions secured by myself would be extremely few and far between. It was for a rehearsed reading which was going to take place at a very well known theatre and the director had already secured a lot of important sounding people to attend. The role was so up my street (Middle Eastern role falls in love with someone who her family don’t approve of and she’s forced to marry someone else) that I’d already bought a house, a hotel and was charging people all the Monopoly money they’d ever owned just to step foot there. 

The audition was so far up in north London that it’s where the accents start to change and there’s a definite Midlands twang so I set off with a map in hand (this was before phones could be trusted to tell you where you are) and was very excited about what was ahead. The audition was a good twenty minutes from the nearest tube station and as it was a nice day, I decided to shun the bus and walked there instead. I got to where the road that seemed to match the address I had scrawled on my map but it looked like a business estate so, as I was still a bit early, I had a bit of a wander to see if there was any other roads nearby of a similar name. I scouted around and found nothing so decided that the business estate road must change the further you got down so off I went. But instead of getting better, it just got worse. I started passing saw mills and quarries and all matter of scary looking places until I got to the number that I was given. I expected to see a little office maybe but instead I was faced with a factory behind a very tall, locked fence. The only living being to be found was a mean looking dog who was patrolling around and although I’ve seen some vicious looking professionals in my time, I’m pretty sure he was nothing to do with the casting. 

I went across to the building opposite to ask if they knew if I was in the right place and they confirmed that the address was correct. I tried calling the director but it went straight to voicemail so I left a message and carried on wandering round. As I meandered about, I passed the same girl a couple of times and we finally discovered that she too was there for the audition and had the same problem as me. We waited around for another thirty minutes, leaving several voicemails and text messages with the director until we decided that enough was enough and made our way home.
When I got home, I complained to the company where I found the casting and they promptly contacted the director and suspended their account until they had a full explanation of what happened. I emailed the director to explain that both myself and another actress had waited around a good hour overall and that I would like an explanation as to what happened. But of course, I heard nothing.

About two weeks later I got a call from my agent and the director had been in touch to ask if I’d go back and audition. I was dubious but my agent promised to cover my travel expenses if they pulled the same trick again so off I went. It was in the same place again so I can’t say I was feeling particularly confident but thankfully I arrived and the factory was open and it turned out that we were auditioning in the narrowest office known to man. The factory was working too so we had to shout above the din of whirring machines and an alarm which went off every twenty seconds. The director explained that they’d had to cancel the previous audition because they’d had an argument with their partner and the said partner had destroyed their phone so they were unable to contact anyone to explain that they were unable to hold the auditions anymore. Somehow, the cynical raise of my eyebrows and my sceptical silence didn’t put off the director and I ended up getting the job. However, my phone decided to not tell me for two weeks that I had any voicemails and as the director clearly didn’t understand the notion of trying another method of contact, the job ended up going to someone else. Think it’s safe to say that fate was clearly working overtime for me and succeeded in getting me as far away as possible from a project that was clearly doomed from the start. Now if only fate would set up its own agency….

Monday, 21 November 2011

Tick Tock

After a wonderous day on Thursday, I strapped myself in and prepared myself for an almighty crash back down to earth. If I could be bothered, I'd go back and check where I left things on Friday but I know I can safely say that I was complaining about the lack of food. I'm sure there were numerous other complaints which were my parents to look at, they'd probably disown me and wonder how on earth their incredible parenting skills had resulted in such a whiny, ungrateful child.

Anyway, I have to admit that this weekend, on the whole, was pretty bloody fun. Much of it was spent running away from pretend monsters and if I wasn't doing that then I was either attacking them or screaming at them. Time in front of the camera, as always, was great. A monster-fighting heroine is not a role that comes my way very often so I've enjoyed it immensely. As the ravages of time take their hold, these parts are going to land at my increasingly achy feet less and less so I figure I need to make the most of them while people still foolishly let me have a go at them.

As usual, it was the time away from the camera that was tough. And it was namely to do with when I was due to finish. On Saturday, I'd been told that I'd be finishing by 5pm. Out of everyone on the shoot, I've probably been on set the most and after a 12 hour shoot on Friday, I was looking forward to a much shorter day. However, when I tell you that my lift to the location on Saturday morning was late by 45 minutes, you already know that my wrap time was becoming more unlikely than Scorsese coming up to me in Sainsburys, telling me how he loved my extensive work in student films and that he'd love to secure me a job in every shoot he's involved with between now and the end of time. Finally at the location, we were then subjected to another hour wait while the crew set up the first shot. Finally in front of the camera, everything went swimmingly and we started racing through the shots needed.

As we approached my wrap time, everything started to take longer. Everyone started messing about and the director suddenly decided that each shot needed at least 18 takes, regardless of how well the first one went. My 5pm home time started to become a distant memory and I was then promised I'd be done by 8pm. That time came and went and I was then told I'd be out by 9pm. 9pm struck and I was still waiting to shoot my final scene. Finally at 10pm I was done and was told that I could leave. With a spring in my step, I got my stuff together only to find that there was no one available to get me back to the station. Normally I'm fine getting myself to these places but time + darkness + south London on a Saturday night meant that my desperation to get home was overriden by my desperation to keep hold of my belongings and my face. Another half an hour passed before I was finally released back into the wild, kicking and screaming and wondering why my job has become putting up with these things.

Thankfully I've already seen some of the rushes and I'm confident that at the end of it all, I'm going to have a piece of work that I'm actually proud of. I mean, when I say proud, I actually mean a piece of work that doesn't make me want to hack off my own face the second someone mentions it. It's far from perfect and I'm sure my accent travels around so much that it's almost solely responsible for global warming but it's made by people who know what they're doing and care about these things so that's got to count for something, right? All they need to do is buy a massive clock and hire Dervla Kirwin to dub everything I say and it might just work out...

Friday, 18 November 2011

Operation Excellent

Many years from now, when I finally give in and answer everyone's prayers and release my autobiography, yesterday will go down as The Day. I mean, for various lovely reasons, 2011 may well have been my best year yet and there are moments that top yesterday. But in terms of acting it will be bloody hard to beat. It was particularly fulfilling if you like your days loaded with artistical wonderments but it was still bloody special do read on....

I shot the advert I got yesterday and although I was ridiculously excited about getting the role and being paid handsomely for a day's work, I hadn't really given the shoot much thought. I imagined it would be a nice day and when I received the call sheet, I glanced over it to see who I'd be working alongside. My attention was first grabbed as I excitedly told T I'd be working with someone he knew. But my high-pitched chattering meant I missed the truly exciting bit...the main actor was a comedy actor hero old mine and I was only bloody listed alongside him as one of the principal artists. Much skipping around the room commenced as a childhood dream would be finally fulfilled. I often think about what it would be like up go back ten years and frighten the 17 year old me with what I'd end up doing. I'd have been horrified to learn that I'd readily put myself for all manner of work but working with that actor who featured in pretty much every comedy show I held dear?! Wow. I'm also pleased to announce that he was bloody lovely and debunked the myth that you should never meet your heroes.

But don't worry. While I did have the most excellently great day, it wasn't all perfect. The day started badly with my journey there. Being picked up abs driven to the shoot is damn lovely but at 6.30am with a driver who clearly has no idea where he's going and it's not so fun. I realised something was up when we seemed to be near the venue and the driver started to slowly cruise alongside every large looking building. After the fifth time of him asking me I'd I knew where we were going and me telling him I didn't, he finally gave in and sought help. Thirty minutes we drifted around the vicinity, somehow managing to miss the location each time.

Finally we arrived and after a quick chance to pick up some breakfast, I was whisked away to costume and make up. Dressed in the most unflattering, hot costume, we headed on to set and much fun was had by all. The crew were all amazing and the feeling on set was joyous. That was until, after about an hour of pronouncing my name correctly, the director suddenly started saying it differently. I didn't get a chance to correct him the first time it happened and anyway, what's the etiquette during this? He's busy trying to get a complicated shoot finished so should j really be bothering him with the phonetics of my name? Or should I have more self-worth and demand that until he gets it right, I'll be refusing to carry on? Of course, I went with the former and suffered the slightly awkward moments each time he spoke to me.

Today is a lovely crash back down to unpaid earth as I'm back on the web shoot. Lovely day so far but there's no heroes in sight, I've been here three hours and so far only my shoulder has been shot and yet again there's no food. But still, their pronunciation of my name is spot on.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Actor vs Actress

Hi-diddly-dee. An actor’s life for me. Or should that be actress? Ever since Whoopi Goldberg uttered the words…

“An actress can only play a woman. I’m an actor, I can play anything.”

…the debate has raged over what the correct term is. Some leapt on the bandwagon instantly and entered a full tirade against anyone who dared speak the name ‘actress.’ Feminism reigned supreme and regardless of what bits you entered the world with, the correct term was actor.

I completely understand the notion behind what Whoopi said but is it entirely necessary? Why should the term ‘actress’ be seen as derogatory? Personally I’m very proud to be an actress and everything that it stands for. Why should we be ashamed that our job title instantly means that people understand that we are a female performer? Does this mean that we’re now embarrassed to be called women? Will this topic force me to ask any more questions? Keep reading and find out… 

Now I should be proud when people ask me what I do for a living. I love my job and the ridiculous things that I get to do on a daily basis. Yes, I dread having to go through the ‘no I haven’t been in EastEnders’ speech and I hate explaining that I’m not working on anything yet and there’s no chance that they’ll have ever seen me in anything. But there’s something I hate most of all. It’s what I should damn well call myself. The term ‘actress’ has never bothered me but as I mention it, I feel the dark shadow of feminism looming over me. I get the same feeling I get when I let a man buy me a drink and the betrayal of the sisterhood takes over. The problem is though that, more often than not, you’re explaining your job to people who don’t act. Therefore, if you tell people that you’re an ‘ACTOR’ then they instantly think you’re an idiot. It will take all their willpower not to do the ‘ooooo, an actorrrrr’ (you know the one I mean) and even if they don’t do it in your face, you can see the struggle behind the eyes and you feel like a fool.

A sad thing happens when you type in the word ‘actress’ into Google. Go on, do it now. Yep. The first bloody thing it brings up is ‘actor.’ Even the world’s biggest search engine instantly corrects you and makes you feel like you share the same sexist views as your great Uncle George. Instead of just humouring you and brining up an informative Wikipedia page that would include a handy amount of facts so that you could easily write a blog about the history of the actress, it leads you, like the frightened little politically correct beast it is, to the page that it thinks it should do. 

I realise that the term actor was originally set up to just mean a performer and there was no gender bias to the word. It just happened to mean a male performer because us ladyfolk weren’t allowed to do silly voices for a living so as soon as someone said the dreaded word, everyone knew they were talking about a bloke who gets his kicks running around on stage. It’s only when the world realised that a female role is the part that women were born to play that they came up with a new word to describe these new and interesting beings. 

But most importantly, what’s wrong with a bit of differentiation between men and women anyway? Weren’t we all happy that the term ‘actor’ meant a male performer and ‘actress’ meant a female performer? Does this mean that we all need to campaign to be called men regardless of our gender? And what about male performers? If men want to jump on this trundling bandwagon going nowhere, will we find Dominic West suddenly declaring…

“An actor can only play a man. I’m an actress, I can play anything.”

No. Of course not.  And if he does, I bet we’ll all be clamouring to be called an actress again…

Sunday, 13 November 2011

So Long Saturday

Ah, the weekend. A time when you can be guaranteed a lie-in and you can be fairly safe in the knowledge that no one will be contacting you to travel to far-flung places to say a couple of words in the hope that you might secure a job that will reluctantly pay your travel expenses. It's Saturday. Why would anyone need you to make a 90 minute trip to utter maybe a minute's worth of speech? Of course, I realise I'm stupid. Only if you have a nice, normal job can you be certain that you won't be called up to travel 20 miles to play a religious fanatic from the Deep South who is partially sighted with a limp. But I don't have a nice, normal job so that's exactly what I found myself doing yesterday.

It was the same people that I worked for last weekend and they needed someone to play a few small roles. Flattered to be considered, I duly accepted without a thought to the fact that I was giving up yet another weekend to flit around London for no money. I mean, I wasn't going to be earning any money anyway over the weekend and at least when you're trapped on set for hours and hours, the chances of spending any cash are pretty damn limited so I suppose they were actually doing me a favour. The call time was midday which would normally be fine but the set was pretty much on the other side of the world (west London) so I found myself crawling out of bed at a time that really shouldn't be legal on a Saturday morning. It's one thing getting up at that time when you know you're going to be the star of the show but the effort becomes far greater when you realise that you're sacrificing your weekend for the sake fo a few lines and a half-baked character.

However, how wrong I was. I got to play a handful of fun characters, most of which were just voiceovers which meant I got to play around with my dreadful catalogue of accents. Northern, Deep South and Cockney all got a look in yesterday although I'm sure they all ended up sounding like various versions of Welsh in the end.

So, on set, much fun was to be had. However, it was off set where the tedium lied. Off set can be dull at best. The bulk of filming is waiting around and therefore a fully charged phone and a damn good book are your bestest friends. A good cast are also crucial too as you'll often find that you end up spending more time nattering with them and your book goes largely unread and your phone hardly checked. But yesterday no one seemed to want to really talk. As soon as we were on set, novels were whipped out of bags and phones were constantly monitored. The usual questions were fired out.Where did you train? What are you working on at the moment? Where did you travel from today? Do you lie awake at night wondering whether anyone will ever pay you to work again? OK, one of those is a lie. No one ever dares ask anyone what else they're working on at the moment. As a question it's far too loaded and encourages boastful actors to start listing off all the projects they're involved in for the next decade and it allows depressed actors to enter a monologue of self-pity and bitterness. So very little was said at all. One actress made it her mission to turn the few conversations that were held into a game of Top Trumps where she tried to better everyone else with her dismal tales of her vague acting past. I find this behaviour tiresome and sadly it just prevented me from trying to start any further backstage chats. Of course, these people are almost impossible to stop and I'm sorry to say that even as she was leaving set, I could hear her boring the ears off someone as she rattled on about some supposedly hilarious incident that happened before the world began.

Next weekend sees even more filming . This time I'll ensure I'm fully prepared with a box of conversation starts, plenty of ear plugs and enough mouth gags to stop even the most determined of acting bores...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Final Hour

I must start by apologising to you all who were left waiting yesterday for my verdict blog. I realise many of you probably haven't been able to sleep or eat, worrying what the outcome was after being told that I'd made it down to the final two for the advert. I imagine it was a very difficult day for you all and I'm sorry that I was unable to get the important news out to you sooner.

But fear not because a conclusion has finally been reached. Grab that sandwich and then get to bed because your lives can get back to normal once again. But before then, I'll give you a brief idea of the build up yesterday. They obviously decided that instead of putting me out of my misery and calling me up early, they'd instead put me through some tortuous X Factor style, drawn-out wait. From the second I woke up, I was checking my phone. Each glance at my phone would bring out a 'WHY HAVEN'T THEY CALLED YET?' cry that I'm sure drove T to the point of wondering how easily he could get away with my murder. Hour after hour passed until it was gone 5pm and I'd resigned myself to the fact that they just weren't going to call. In my head, they'd offered the part to the other actress and were just waiting for her confirmation before they called me up with the bad news. I'd practiced my gracious defeat voice in my head and I was ready...

T has been giving me a Star Wars education over the last couple of days. The previous attempt at getting me to watch the films resulted in me falling asleep within the first fifteen minutes but this second attempt was going extremely well and after only two days, we were already on Return of the Jedi yesterday afternoon. It was just before 6pm and Luke and Vader were about to go head to head when my phone suddenly rings. It's from a blocked number and so I answered it, fully expecting to be told that I'd won some bogus competition. But no. It was the production company telling me that they'd loved what I did in the audition and they'd like to offer me the part. Hooray, huzzah and yahoo! I realised that I'd been so busy honing my loser speech that I was a litle lost for words so I think I vaguely mumbled some phrases whilst being told that I'd be emailed further information in the next day.

But who cared what I said. Miss L is going to be on your screens (if you live pretty much anywhere apart from the UK.) Living in mainland Europe and thinking about being a fisherman in Fishbourne, a marketing assistant in Market Harborough or a newsreader in Newcastle then now might be the time to start putting those plans into action.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Total Recall

So, the advert I went up for last week where I got to pretend I was one of those life-saving types. The one that said they had pencilled me in for the role. You remember? Yeah?? No? Oh well, all the information is in the first two sentences so go back, read them and then come back here and we'll start again...All done? Great. Now let's carry on....

The recall for the advert was yesterday and so, like the well-behaved thesp that I am, I went along. While sat waiting to go in, an extremely pretty girl (and therefore quite clearly not up for the same role as me) was told that she was too early by about two hours for an audition. She explained that she had another casting to get to and she wondered if there was any chance that she could be seen any earlier. Instantly the room disliked her. She was absolutely stunning, she had another audition to be getting to and she might be going in before us. You'd think she'd filled the resentment quota for the day already. But oh no. She was asked to go and get changed into what she needed to wear and we were then called to go in. The three of us filed in bitterly, wondering why our genes and agents were failing us so badly. Lined up in our dowdy outfits that we had been asked to wear, we were just ready to introduce ourselves to camera when Pretty Girl bursts into the room, scantily clad in the tiniest of leopard print bikinis. She was hastily turned away but the damage was done. Never have I felt like such a monster and to make matters worse, I had a camera pointing straight at me. There's nothing like a beautiful model to suddenly push you ten steps back down the ladder of attractiveness.

Pushing all Quasimodo feelings aside, we got on with the casting and it was all good fun. It was all very much the same as the first casting but this time it was in front of production team and we were given a few more things to react to. We weren't allowed to speak so reactions were limited but the director seemed to really like what I did so I went away feeling pretty damn happy. And it seems I was right to. I had a call this morning to say that I'm down to the final two and I'll hear in the next day whether I've got it or not. This now means that T has to deal with me constantly having one eye on my phone for the next 24 hours.

Of course I'm massively excited and I keep telling myself that even if I don't get it, I should still be pleased that I got down to the final two. But there's almost something worse in being in the final two that being knocked out in the early stages. The closer you get to something, the harder it is when you lose out. Getting this job would help out a lot, not only by having a lovely credit on my CV but financially it would be damn useful too. But knowing that I could miss out on it at the final hour would be properly disappointing. As I've said in previous posts before, it's nice to be kept in the loop about these things but the 'ignorance is bliss' camp is also a pleasant site to be spending some time in.

So tomorrow's entry will either be one of woe or one of joy. Let the phone watching commence...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Shooting Gallery

Yesterday saw the last day of the first section of the shoot where I've spent most of my time worrying that I was going to kill someone with a hammer, blowtorch or my confusing Irish accent. I'm pleased to annouce that despite constant worries that my hands would suddenly lose control and I'd find myself launching a screwdriver at some poor unsuspecting person's face, no one was injured. Actually, that's a lie. One actor had their head smashed by a door but that had nothing to do with me. I was stood right by said door but, for once, it wasn't me who was at the centre of on-set carnage.

However, I'm pleased that I've set the right tone with the cast and crew. At one point in the film, I have to hold a lit blowtorch and inspire the other characters to rise up and beat the monsters. Just before the first take, the director asks if I can play the scene as cool as possible. This ignites immense laughter from the rest of the room, all in hysterics at the thought of me playing this. It seems that if you constantly walk into things, produce one of the only outtakes of the shoot by somehow managing to tangle up a whole bag of tools and drop everything handed to you, people think that you playing 'cool' is far beyond your already limited acting range. I mean, they're right. Had my parents decided to call me Jane then I can guarantee within a week that someone would've been well within their rights to add the 'calamity' prefix.

But it was a most lovely of last days. We were finally well fed and although it was another very long day, it was the mostest of funnest. How can you not enjoy a shoot where you get to run away from monsters and charge, screaming, into a room with a lit blowtorch in your hands. There were some dubious moments such as when I was asked to hold the blowtorch 'Charlie's Angel' style, the director forgetting the horrific consequences of adding a flame to skin. And then there was the scene where I had to throw a hammer three metres to another actor. This kind of thing is not my forte. As already explained, this is the type of situation that generally ends in ambulances, serious facial restructuring and drawn out lawsuits. However, by some miracle (and after a lot of tuition from the DOP), I managed to throw the hammer fifteen (yes, I counted) times without destroying anything apart from the right side of my back which is now home to a constant dull ache.

I've now got a gap of 10 days before we start the final section of the shoot. That's 10 days to to perfect my Irish, learn how to throw things and get myself a damn good lawyer.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Shooting Range

Today's post comes to you from a gloomy Miss L who finds herself tired, achy and on the bus at 8.30 on a grey Sunday morning. Few people are up and about and this time and those who are all have the look that suggests there are a trillion better things they could be doing right now. I've spoken to two loved ones already this morning. One gets to go back to sleep before having breakfast and the other is walking my gorgeous dog on my favourite walk in the sun. If you look out your window right now, you might see a green envious glow emanating from the top of the 43 bus.

But enough of my whining about today. What moans do I have about yesterday? Well, let's start with the insane lack of food. We were told that there would be no official lunch break as they had too much to get done and we'd therefore need to eat when weren't needed. No problem. I'll just go get something from the kitch...what? Where's all the food? Oh, that's it. You haven't bought any. After much foraging, we found a solitary bag of crisps but after one crisp each, we were told to stop eating them as the noise was interfering with the sound equipment. To be fair, I'm pretty sure the sound coming from our stomachs was far worse but we'll let that go. Finally, 7 hours after we'd first arrived on set, lunch was collected. We huddled round the shopping bags to find most of the film's budget had been spent on sugar free cherryade and a handful of sad sandwiches. These were hoovered up in seconds. Bellies still grumbling, we wondered if that's all we'd be getting. A few hours later and a rumour starting kicking about that pizzas were being ordered! Hooray! That'd keep us going for days. Or at least it would if they'd bought enough so that we could have more than two slices each. I should add that Actor 1 from yesterday claimed to have every allergy under the sun so he got a pizza all of his own. While he devoured tasty looking, exclusive meal, we picked away at our meagre nibblings.

I don't want to sound like food is the most important thing on the shoot because it's not. It's the most important thing in the world. But seriously, if you're going to ask people to work for free then at least let them eat decently at regular intervals. It's bloody hard keeping concentration during a scene when most of your attention is going into stopping you from desperately knawing on the boom.

Complaint number two is about Actor 1. He'd already annoyed me by turning up obscenely late which he made even worse by charging in to apologise during one of my scenes. It was an important scene where I, Miss L, the High Priestess of Clumsy, has to throw heavy tools at people. It was nerve wracking enough worrying about how many lawsuits I'd face after maiming the whole crew without this irritating buffoon barging in midway. He then made matters worse by spending the whole day talking to my chest and making horribly inappropriate comments. I'm as open minded as an open window in Mensa but I draw the line at someone constantly needling me to find out what my favourite position is.

I'm aware I've made this sound like the worst shoot in the world. It's really not. It's damn fun and everyone else apart from Actor 1 is working so hard to make this work. Even the downtime which is normally brain crushingly dull has been made fun after discovering that the guy who owns the flat loves the exact same books that I do and we spent a good chunk of the evening excitedly recommending new reads to each other. Unsurprisingly we all share a love of film and we regularly have to be told to keep it down as we all rush to explain films we think the others would enjoy.

Today's the last day of shooting for a couple of weeks so although we've got the funnest stuff planned, stress levels are going to be high as we need to make sure everything is covered before we leave this location. Check back tomorrow for another moany blog where I complain about the lack of bottled water on set. This will be overshadowed though by my triumphant retaliation against Actor 1 where, in one swift move, I shove everything he's allergic to down his neck and nail his genitals to a particularly rattly door. Too much? Nah....

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Shoot to Kill

Ah the first day of a shoot. The excitement of meeting the cast and crew. The thrill of checking out your location. The sheer joy of on-set catering. It's all a bit bloody lovely so I set off down to the wrong side of the river with a spring in my step, a glint in my eye and a growl in my belly.

The shoot got off to a lovely start by being picked up from the station despite the location only being two minutes away. The crew were all there and all seemed like normal, good people. The actors however very much let the side down. I don't want to sound like a preachy actor who thinks they're the only one who gets it right (I mean, that's exactly what I am but that kind of attitude doesn't win the hearts of a blog reading nation.) I was the only one who bothered to turn up on time with the other two actors rocking up an hour late. I know there are several thousand things that I do wrong but I find turning up late unforgivable. Unless it's totally out of your control (a lion decides they want to be a train driver) then there's no excuse.

Actor 1 turns up first. He barges in like he hadn't kept us waiting for 60 very long minutes and when I go to introduce myself, I'm completely ignored. Great. Way to make a first impression with your fellow actors. Twenty minutes later he comes up to me, shouts his name in my face, doesn't give me chance to introduce myself nor does he ask for my name. I'm pretty sure he still doesn't know it. Oh well, I get to play with a lot of weapons on this shoot. He better watch out for my dangerously clumsy hands and the frightening amount of weapons I have to handle during this shoot.

But anyway, my anger and I digress. We shot. We missed a lot but we also scored a few times and much japery was had. However, an over zealous director and an ever ticking clock meant that panic started to set in about how the hell I'd be getting home. The shoot was meant to end at 10 but at 11.30 we were still going strong. Thankfully my very unsubtle comments to the runner who was also relying on trains about when the last wagon would be leaving didn't go unnoticed and we finally wrapped for the day. A hair-raising car journey across London as we tried to chase final trains then ensued and I finally got home with a stomach only cradling a small bag of Discos at 1am. Add this to the fact that my alarm was then set for 7.30 the next morning and the world was faced with a miffed, exhausted but ultimately relieved at avoiding nightbuses Miss L.

Actor 1 was nearly 2 hours late this morning but much of my day has been spent throwing tools across the room. Actor 1? Meet this hammer and my careless throwing skills...

Friday, 4 November 2011

Short But Sweet

Another day, another meeting with an agent. OK, so I've only had two meetings in two months but the phrase still stands. To be fair, the phrase 'another day, another trek down to south London' would be much more fitting. Until 5 weeks ago, I lived in south London and during that time no meetings or auditions were ever held there. However, the second I made the move to beautiful north London and now suddenly everyone wants me to make the arduous journey down to the other side of the river.

Yesterday was bloody miserable and the thought of getting on every form of transport that London has to offer made me come all over a little queasy. However, I kept in mind the lovely surprise I'd had the day before with the long trek being rewarded with the most wonderfullest of auditions and I set out. After all, this was a meeting with an agent. Even if they didn't like me and I didn't like them, it would be totally worth the jaunt. Even though it was just an initial meeting, I imagined I'd be in there for at least twenty minutes, chatting away about all the impossible things that I want to achieve and how little work I want to do to achieve these things. They'd go on for a good ten minutes about how great I am and how I'm just what they need to make their agency the best in the world. They'd get a bit excited about me and the rest of the company would all be brought in to gawp at me and I'd leave the meeting to the sound of rapturous applause and telephones ringing off the hook with a stream of job offers.

I imagine you'll be just as surprised as I was that this didn't happen. I was actually in the meeting for all of five minutes. And while it was a lovely five minutes, it was quite a shock that it was all over quite so quickly. I didn't even have time to run my BAFTA for Best Actress speech by them. I mean, the fact that I would chose to thank my parents, T and friends before them could be a proper deal breaker and would make things properly awkward in the afterparty. But instead we spent those five minutes idly chatting about things that are supposedly a lot more important such as my CV, headshot and what kind of work I want to be doing. Apparently these things matter a lot more. But anyway, after an enjoyable 300 seconds of chat, an audition was arranged for some time in the quite distant future so not all bad.

To be fair. I should be used to these bafflingly brief meetings. An audition I did for a patriotic gas company was quite possiblt the shortest on record. Somehow they were running amazingly late and I had a thirty minute wait to go in. I took very little notice at how quickly people were going in an out and waited patiently like the actress who is desperate for work that I am. Finally they called me in, I had the chance to say my name to camera, do profiles and hands. I then had to lift a box and put it back down again and that was it. What? I did three years at drama school. I spent weeks learning how to be a penguin. Months on how to be a cow. Years on how to be a human being. Didn't they want to see any of this? Sadly my face and box lifting skills weren't enough for them and I never heard from them again. Had they asked for my penguin then I'm sure things would've been different.

This afternoon sees yet another trek down to the southern regions of this glorious capital city as I start filming tonight. Check back tomorrow for at least one guaranteed calamitous tale of on-set buffoonery...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Sod's Law

I like to try and at least loosely theme my blogs. This stops me going off and wittering on and telling you about pointless little moments in my life such as what I ate for dinner last night and that leaf I saw that looked like a very small dog. As interesting as I know you would all find these facts, I have to stop myself from bringing them up otherwise you'd all just be hassling me for the titbits from my day and we'd all lose the point of what this blog is really about...a whinging actress.

But today I've just got a few things that I want to pass on. Things that I'm sure I could tie together if I could be bothered and sit and come up with a theme but I can't. I've spent a good ten minutes wondering what music to get dressed to so coming up with a theme for today's offerings is far beyond me.

Firstly, to yesterday's second audition. My thoughts were that it would be a bit of a waste of time. Despite it being vaguely paid, it was a long way to go for an incredibly short script so I set off not feeling quite as optimistic as I should have done. But how wrong I was. It's for the funnest sounding project since The Tony Rich Project. (Yes, I realise 'Nobody Knows' ain't a fun song but as I explained earlier, I'm feeling lazy today...) It's for an art project and despite having to spend a lot of the audition pretending that I know a lot more about art than I do, it was a lovely hour well spent.

Next up is the Sod's Law section of today's blog. So I'm filming this weekend which is all great. It's a nice feeling when you're on a constant search for work to then be able to tell people that you're filming all weekend. Friends have asked if I'm around for a night out but I can't because I'm "filming all weekend." This has made me feel way more important that I should do and instead of feeling all smug about actually having an acting job, I should probably spend that time learning the lines for the damn thing. My current method seems to be that if I'm in the same room as the script for long enough then I'll learn them. So far this has had limited success although I know the front cover off by heart. Anyway, I digress. So, this morning, I get an offer to be the lead in a music video. Hooray. I hadn't even auditioned for it. But of course, and I reckon you've already guessed this, it's being filmed this weekend. I'm going from having no work at all to having to turn things down. Damn you Sod and the laws you came up with.

And for the final piece of news...I've been pencilled in for the ad I went up for yesterday. Now I've been pencilled in more times than a full sketch book so I know that most of the time, you get the initial excitement of being told to keep dates free and then you never hear anything again. A particular supermarket that thinks all the small things are particularly helpful has pencilled me in for just about every advert they've ever produced yet my grinning face is still yet to feature in any of them. I should be hearing tomorrow about whether they're still interested so I've got roughly 24 hours of glee until the misery returns.

Hmmm it seems that the theme, despite me thinking that there wasn't one, is 'self-indulgent.' I apologise for this breach in character. I promise that normal doom and gloom service will return tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Power of Three

Today has been one of those gloriously productive days. One of those days where you're pretty sure you could solve the debt crisis, restore peace to the world and bring dodos back from extinction if only someone would bloody ask. But because the world is still yet to see my potential, my productivity remains solely for my own life.

I started my day with a very fun casting indeed. I don't want to give too much away as that would break the Miss L code and they'll take away my 2008 copy of Contacts if I go against it. But I got to pretend I did a job that real people do that actually saves lives and it was a whole lot of fun. It took bloody ages because despite wanting to audition people individually, they called people in six at a time meaning that you had to be involved in the casting experience of five other desperate actors. I'm always amazed at how no one ever sabotages someone else's moment to shine. I mean, I'm pleased that no one does this because it would be bloody horrible but I have to admit that it occasionally crosses my mind. I'd never do it because I'm not good at these sort of things and I'd end up messing up my evil little plan and somehow manage to make the victim look even better. That's just how I do things. But I'm pleased that no one has intentionally done it to me. Or at least I don't think they have. Someone else in the casting did seem to have all kinds of trouble understanding the unbelievably simple directions we were given. She misunderstood them so well that I was worried that it was actually me doing the misunderstanding. Maybe this was her way of trying to destroy my desperate few seconds in front of the camera. Clearly she doesn't read my blog because otherwise she'd know that I rarely need someone to mess things up for me. If she was an avid reader then she would've known that I'd do the first take with part of the supplied costume on incorrectly.

But it was all very enjoyable and even while waiting to go in, I managed to not get annoyed by someone asking the receptionist if they had a pen while standing next to the biggest bucket of pens in the entire world and instead applied for three jobs. Yep. While you were all working for a living, I decided to become a mathematical genius and cube my chances of rejection. (I realise that 'cube' is the incorrect term for multiplying something by three but I prefer the way it sounds. Artistic license/laziness and all that.) And then, to top it off, on my way out of the casting, I called an agent and arranged a meeting for tomorrow. I am Princess of the Productive, Earless of the Efficient and Duchess of the Diary.

I really feel that I should spend the rest of today basking in the glory of my morning's work. Many an hour should be spent at the wonderful things I've achieved and I feel I need time to marvel at just how little will come of all the work I've done this morning. But instead I have to trek for nearly two hours across London to speak three sentences in my second audition of the day. I wish that was an exagerration but this time I'm not lying for dramatic blogging purposes. Today three is truly the magic number...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Out of Office

I'm sure you've all been wondering what happened to your daily fix of The Misadventures of Miss L. I imagine you've all been crying into your pillows at night and drowning your sorrows in that fifth whisky as you wondering what possible scrapes and mishaps I was currently getting into. Sorry, what? You weren't? You actually enjoyed the silence? Oh. Sorry. You might be disappointed with what's about to come up...

I've been away this weekend in gorgeous, beautiful Ireland. T was working over there and like the tagalong that I am, I decided I'd get in on the fun too. Despite having to work on my accent while over there, I genuinely saw it as a weekend away where I didn't have to worry about trying to make a living. I could have just a few days where I wasn't constantly scanning casting calls and churning out the same old cover letter. Just a couple of days where I'm not battling with my ego and wondering whether I can really put myself up for a role that calls for the actress to be 'beautiful' and whether I can still genuinely use my stage combat certificate from 8 years ago as proof that I can be trusted with a rapier. But of course, we all know that the world of acting doesn't work like that. When it's quiet, you spend your days constantly checking an inbox that never receives anything other than newsletters that you can't be bothered to unsubscribe from and a phone that only receives calls from people who have accidentally rung you and you're left listening to the swishing of their bag for 10 minutes. But when you're busy and have gots lots of other lovely things you want to be doing, the whole world is after you.

To be fair, most of the weekend was pretty quiet and I was able to spend much of my time drinking Guinness, eating potatoes and wondering just how much I was becoming the tourist stereotype. Most of my weekend was spent feeling very lucky that I was getting to watch some amazing comedy and this was interspersed with a lot of drinking, laughing and marvelling at just how seriously the Irish take Halloween. So I can't really complain. But I will. The problem was that yesterday, in Ireland, it was a bank holiday. And because I'd done such a good job at practicing my bestest Irish accent (I listened to roughly three sentences) I reckoned I deserved an extra day off too. But oh no. Because I work in a country that hates the idea of giving people a day off so they can carve pumpkins and mess around with fake blood, everyone decided that they would all get in touch. Of course, when I say everyone, I actually mean that two people got in touch over the course of 7 hours. But to a resting actress, a couple of audition offers on the same day is about as magical as Paul Daniels fronting a Magic Numbers tribute band.

The first came in the shape of a rehearsed reading. I have no idea what it's about but I saw there was a little bit of money involved so that's all that really matters. The audition was organised for Wednesday so that was great. Hooray, I can get on with my day, safe in the knowledge that I have an audition waiting for me for when I get back. In the afternoon, T and I went for a walk and lo and behold, I get another call asking me if I want to audition for an advert. Of course I do. So, with the wind howling through my hair and the rain lashing my face, I organised a second audition for Wednesday. I was getting good at this. With my head growing at a rate faster than the speed of light, we retreated to a pub where the realisation hit that with filming coming up this week too, I was going to be a very busy Miss L indeed.

So it seems the secret ingredient to getting auditions is to be out of the country as much as possible. If anyone would therefore like to whisk me away so that the casting directors can come chasing up after me, you know what to do...

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Yesterday afternoon I found that just very occassionally, miracles can happen. Despite my apparently desperate attempts to sabotage my entire acting career, as described in Monday's entry Surprises, I only went and bloody landed myself one of the parts. It was one of those calls where the director spent a good few minutes telling me how much they enjoyed my audition and how impressed they were but I was still convinced that it would end with the dreaded 'unfortunately we just don't think you were right for any of the roles available at this time but we'll definitely keep you in mind for future roles.' But don't worry, the world won't be subjected to my highly skilled, rapping ways. Nor will it be forced to watch the part that was probably closest to my casting. Oh no. Instead anyone with internet access will worryingly be just a few clicks away from seeing me pretending to be a 16 year old Irish girl who lives on a London estate. Bin your router and get closing your internet accounts now. Soon the world wide web will be a far scarier place.

Shooting starts next week and I've just spent the last half an hour getting massively excited about the script. I get to brandish weapons, run away from monsters and strangle someone. It's one of those scripts that properly reminds me how lucky I am to do this job. Of course, the role doesn't pay but how many people get to spend their weekdays racing around a housing estate attacking monsters? Loads? Oh. Well how many people get to do it while doing a hack Irish accent?

But the miracle of getting the job doesn't stop there. Oh no. So, faced with the prospect of making sure that I'm tone perfect with this non-Welsh accent, I'd normally have to spend hours couped up in my room desperately mimicking poorly made YouTube clips. But not this time. Because Mr Miracle has decided that this week he wants me for a sunbeam, I only happen to be going to bloody Ireland this weekend. This means that I can annoy everyone I speak to by constantly whispering back everything they say in an accent that probably sounds like it's been backpacking round the world twice. If you live in Ireland then it's probably best to use this weekend as the perfect excuse to go on that holiday that you've always talked about. You have been warned.

I've got a week to get this accent nailed. If you hear a muttered dodgy Dublin accent next to you when you're on the tube or ghastly Galway mutterings drift your way while you're stood at the bus stop then I can almost guarantee that you finally discover who the mysterious Miss L is. If anyone has any tips, or even better, how to get Mr Miracle to stick around until the film has wrapped, then please let me know.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

So Close

Today the 'So Close Bug' has swarmed into town. Every job I see today, on first glance, appears to be perfect. The role sounds like something I could do and they actually involve getting paid. Imagine that? A role that you could play and they'll give you a few pennies for being so god damn perfect for the part too? With each casting call, my heart has skipped several beats as I read down what the role entails. I start forming my perfect cover letter, content in the knowledge that the part is mine. That's until I read the final requirement. And damn, you can always bet on that final requirement being the one thing you can't overcome.

So far today I've got excited about roles that finally reveal that they require you to be black, 5'9" and blonde, have access to your own small child and be an astronaut. Even with the best will in the world, these are insurmountable requirements. Even if I didn't sleep for a week and did everything possible to work on these, there is no way that I can change race, grow an extra 5 inches, give birth to a small person or train to fly to the moon. Although frustrating, there is something quite nice about the 'so close and yet so far' casting calls. There is absolutely nothing that I can do about it. I can't feel guilty about the lack of time I'm putting into making myself a more versatile actor because these are aspects about myself that I can never change.

It's the qualities that you probably could have that are the annoying ones. The fact that I can't speak fluent Arabic is totally unforgivable on my part and means that I've lost out on quite a few roles because of it. If I'd bothered to keep up my flute and oboe classes at school then those casting calls that require the actor to play a portable instrument would be accessible to me. If I'd saved up my money for singing lessons rather than spending it on countless trips to London Zoo so that I could gawp at penguins for hours on end then I wouldn't have to shirk away from pleas for actors who can sing. These are the things that I beat myself up over and make me realise that there's always more that I could be doing. I've bought language tapes, various instruments and various sets of juggling balls but all get used for a couple of days until my annoyance at not being able to master means that they are consigned to a life under a thick layer of dust, fluff and receipts.

But it's not unknown for me to try and gain these skills in time for an audition. A few years back I was asked to audition for a very good play with a very good theatre company. They asked me to prepare a five minute story telling piece, to be prepared to show them a skill that they could possibly use within the performance and also a bellydancing a routine. Sorry, a what?! Why would they ask me to do that? Why would they be so cruel as to just throw that in? I checked back over the casting call and stupid Miss L had missed that one of the requirements was that the actor be proficient at belly dancing. Oh god. But instead of holding my hands up and saying that I'd messed up, I decided to use the week that I had to try and learn. This would be the perfect opportunity to finally add a new and interesting gift to my very sparse looking 'other skills' section on my CV. I bought a couple of belly dancing DVDs and then spent nearly every waking hour desperately trying to teach myself how to undulate my stomach without looking like I was midway through a seizure.

The day of the audition came along all too quickly and I was terrified. I was totally unprepared and had somehow convinced myself that I'd be able to wing this one. I had a piece of bellydancing-esqe music downloaded which I'd managed to listen to a couple of times and apart from a couple of moves, I had pretty much no idea what I was going to do. I went in an aced the storytelling part and then played the piano for a bit which all seemed to go down well. They then said that they were ever so sorry but unfortunately, because they were overrunning, there would be no time to watch me shimmy and shake in their faces. I was more relieved than a relief worker relieving herself on a sculptural relief while watching Comic Relief.

Thankfully I never heard from them again so my bellydancing days were shortlived. I may not be able to juggle and I'll never be able to play the lute but 'not being caught out' should almost definitely take pride of place on my CV.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Sometimes I wonder if this blog is trying to write itself. I really thought that after a few weeks, I'd start to struggle with what to write about. Not all my auditions could contain ridiculous amounts of hilarity. Surely some auditions would crop up which were completely normal. I wouldn't fall over, be asked to take part in some far-fetched improvisation and then stumble over lines like the expertly placed trip wires that they are. But of course I was wrong. Somehow, every audition throws up some scenario that has me leaving what the hell I'm doing with my life and then how quickly I can get home so that I can blog about it. I'm pretty sure that I'm now looking at castings for the blogging propects rather than how it can help further my career. I worry that telling you all about my pitiful tales of somehow trying to earn a living is becoming a lot more important than actually earning that said living. Oh well, here comes another....

Today's audition was for an internet sitcom. It all seemed very normal. I didn't get to see a script before the audition but the little write up on the character was all fine and didn't set off even the faintest ring of an alarm bell. It was unpaid, of course, but it looked like it could be a fun project so I set off this morning feeling fairly upbeat about it all. When I arrived I was given some information on the project and then read through the scene I'd be doing. Still, all fine. The scene read OK and despite the fact that I'd be performing right in the window, in full view of a busy high street, I was one happy actress. I was first asked to perform a quick improvisation (very faint alarm bells started to become just about audible) where I had to talk about myself for a couple of minutes to camera. I'd only read one small scene where my character had about five lines so I didn't have a great deal to go on so I had to do more padding than an A-cup bra. I have an awful feeling I said 'I like going out and staying in' and I'm pretty sure my waffling on about South America would've been a lot more interesting if my mind at that point hadn't decided to refuse all knowledge of any South American countries. After that we read through the scene a couple of times and all seemed happy.

I was then asked to read for a couple of other characters. Not a problem. If there are other characters that I'm suitable for then I'm all for increasing my chances of actually getting a damn role. The first character was 16. Oh. Right. I mean, I've got a young casting but 16? Technology has come a long way but there ain't no computer programs that can make me look that young. Oh, and she's Irish. Brilliant. If you think I should be ok with this then please read this entry before going any further. I stupidly said that was fine with that. Had I known that what would then come out of my mouth would become increasingly American with each line, I would probably have politely declined. Amazingly Welsh didn't seem to feature at all. Maybe I'm finally improving. Or maybe I've just lost the one accent that I thought I could actually do. We then quickly moved on from this character to a 15 year old girl. For god's sake. Do they realise that I turn 28 soon and just want to taunt me with increasingly younger roles? Fine. This one's from a council estate and very much into using slang. Oh good. As I read through the scene it all seemed OK, the dialogue was quite nice until the very end when my character suddenly breaks into a rather sexually explicit rap. By this time, the next actor had walked in so this poor man had to sit ten feet away from me while I rapped about wanting a well-endowed man to...well, you can probably figure that one out for yourself. If you're out there actor man, I'm very sorry for ruining what was probably quite a nice Monday so far.

I hear back from them later in the week. If my lack of geographical knowledge, embarrassingly poor grasp of accents and sorrowful attempts at rapping don't put them off then I intend to set up my own drama school where the main lesson will be how to turn awful auditions into amusing blogs. The School For The Woefully Inept.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lost In The Post

We’re told on an almost daily basis that we need to be doing all we can to be saving the planet. We should all be sharing baths with our loved ones, stepping out and getting into our second hand jumpers and then sitting down to a meal made solely from the vegetables from the garden. We recycle everything that we possibly can, we struggle to read under our energy saving light bulbs and our meticulously insulated homes are full of canvas shopping bags.

This planet may have its flaws and sometimes it gets things wrong. Earthquakes and tsunamis are when the world gets it totally wrong and those are the days when you wonder what on earth it was thinking. But look outside your window. It’s lovely out there. Even if you’re looking out on the most horrific view in the world, I bet there’s one nice thing out there. A tree. A flower. A bird. A crisp packet floating in the breeze. So I think we all agree that we need to keep this lovely little planet of ours safe. Kicking it when it’s down and taking the idea of ‘landfill sites’ literally ain’t the way.
So why do some agencies still insist on being contacted by post? In this modern age, so many of us are constantly attached to our inboxes. They’re in our pockets and in our handbags. They sit by us at night while we’re sound asleep and they’re in our hands when we call loved ones, take photos of funny shaped strawberries and drunkenly text old friends at 3am. Even if I didn’t have a phone that can do everything and more, I can access a computer that performs all the same actions on a bigger screen. Being contacted through these glorious machines is the best thing since that clever person decided that Kit Kats needed to be bigger. It’s so quick it’s frightening. When you post something to someone, how surprised are you when it arrives the next day? Imagine if that happened with an email? If someone doesn’t reply to my pointless electronic messages after 10 minutes then I start to suspect that the whole Internet is broken. And it’s efficient. If halfway through an email I use the wrong word, my mind distracted by what’s going on around me, I can just press that gorgeous little delete button and no one need ever know. Do that in a letter and you either have to try and find that bottle of Tippex that you bought 10 years ago, only to find that it is all dried up and useless, you have to cross it out and get annoyed at the constant flaw in your written art or you have to start all over again. None of these options are useful. They’re irritating and time-consuming. 

I can only imagine that agents and the like really enjoy receiving post. I have to admit that my heart skips a little beat when I see a hand-written envelope lying in the hallway. Instantly you want to know what it is and who it’s from. The joy that someone has taken the time to actually write something is just wonderful. When I was younger, my friends and I used to constantly write to each other. Pointless ramblings on pretty paper. Little in-jokes encased in brightly coloured envelopes. But I’m sure that agents know that every brown or white hard backed envelope contains a black and white 10’x8’ photograph and CV poorly designed in Word. Much like how we start to recognise certain bills by the colour of their envelope, agents must recognise the familiar A4 offerings. Then there’s the effort of opening the damn thing, rifling through the bits of paper and then said bits of paper need to be sent back with a note on why they’re not interested. An email can be filed away, responded to at the click of a button with a standard response and then deleted, never to be seen again. 

Yes, I realise that my laptop uses up energy while it’s plugged in but surely that doesn’t destroy the planet anywhere near as much as me sending out 100 letters to agents to tell them that I feature in the background reading a flyer in a student film. And it’s not just the paper involved. It’s the printing for my headshots. It’s the ink cartridges that my printer gets through quicker than I do crisps. It’s the postman driving them to the sorting depot thing and them then being sent back out to be delivered. All that energy wasted into one letter that at best will be looked at by an assistant and will then be flung back in the post with a little scribbled compliment slip enclosed. And that’s if the thing even arrives in the first place rather than being hoarded by some postman who has a penchant for other people’s mail. No polar bear will ever be harmed by an email.

And then there’s the receiving of the rejection letter. With a knockback email, you get the little rush of excitement when you see it pop up in your inbox but as soon as you’ve scanned the message, seen the words ‘thank you’ ‘unfortunately’ ‘at this time’ then you know you can just delete it and never have to look at it again. But with a letter you get that initial thrill when the envelope slides through your letter box. It takes time to open it with your jittery hands. You read the letter to find that they’re not interested so you throw it away. You put it in the bin but it’s still there. It will lie there, crumpled up but still staring at you. Taunting you until you can finally pluck up the energy to take the rubbish/recycling/pile of stuff on your floor outside and out of sight. 

It’s now got to the point where I’m reluctant to contact an agent if they only accept postal submissions. So listen up, agents. Your environmentally unfriendly ways means you’re missing out on being contacted by a slightly bitter and ranty actress. Ah. Maybe don’t go changing your policies just yet then…