As every actor knows in this industry it can get a little quiet at times and this year has been exactly that for me, I have had the odd bit of work here and there; 'Witches of the water', 'Perran' and 'The Legend Plays on' all for 2020 release but otherwise there has been nothing else. I am not looking for sympathy, this just happens, it is a simple fact of the industry. What you have to learn to do is to not let it get you down! Easier said than done right?
So what do you do when there is little work, few auditions and lack of money to attend acting classes?
Rather than sink into a self pitying hole of despair I decided to get creative, fine some acting work was not coming my way so why don't I just create my own acting work? I firstly started learning a couple of monologues that I could film on my phone and pop onto my youtube channel, it may not be some fancy showreel scene, but it was getting me practicing my art and putting it out there to an audience, which is the point of acting! We don't do it just for ourselves, we do it to perform to others. Social media offers a free opportunity for every actor to get their work out to an audience, yes it might be scarey to put work on a platform and open yourself up to criticism, but really that is no different to putting a short film out there or performing on stage to a few hundred people!
Once I did a couple of monologues I got a little fed up of trying to find one that stood out to me. Ding Ding Ding! Hello I am a writer, why don't I just write my own! And so I did, I decided to write one, I based it on my past experience dealing with depression and how it made me feel. As nervy as it was putting that out there I knew I had to just do it, the back lash I thought may come didn't, infact people really appreciated what I had done and the way I conveyed my own personal experience.
I have written another monologue called 'Born this way' which I plan to film this week, I wrote this one as I really want to eventually play a role that has extremes and delves into the mind of the dangerous.
Once my passion for writing felt like it was back I broadened what I was writing, could I create a short film on minimal budget? Of course you can, keep it simple, maximum of 2 locations, max 4 actors and hey presto you can create a really interesting story. As I was working on this script a competition came up to create a 60 second horror film, what do you know the ideas I had for my script would fit perfectly for this! Now all I needed was to see if anyone would be willing to help me make it. If you have been working in this industy for a while, by now you should have quite an extensive list of friends in the industry. We are all in the same boat at one point or another, looking for work! I have done an array of films to help out friends and to just work, it has taken very little of my time and has allowed me to act. Yes I KNOW THERE IS A MASSIVE DEBATE ON WORKING FOR FREE! In an ideal world no one would, but guess what getting funding for your film is easier said than done, I know, I have tried it. You could wait around for a long time to get funding, if you have nothing to show for what you are capable of producing then people are not likely to invest whether that is private investment or via a crowd funding option. So sometimes you need to get resourceful and simply ask if anyone would be willing to help you. If you don't ask, you don't know! For this film it would take a matter of hours to get 60 seconds filmed. The first person to come to my mind to direct and DOP was Silver Levvy of Moordoormedia, I have worked with him numerous times before and his skills as DOP/cinematography are just awesome, like me he is local to the southwest and we are both keen to boost the areas film industry. Thankfully even though he is super busy he was really keen to make this 60 second film and he had a free location at his disposal, it required a few tweaks to the script to make the location work, but sometimes you have to do that, what you have in your head and what you can get can be very different. Learn to adapt and expand. To top it off I managed to get two amazing actors to also help me out Primrose Bigwood and Adam Martyn Ewings.
And we are filming it this friday!!!! whoop whoop. What is more exciting is that I have also built on this script to make it a 15 minute short, hopefully we will use the 60 sec film to be able to show people what we can produce and get a bit of funding to make a bigger short.
All I am saying is that art can be created, stop waiting for it to come to you, stop waiting for the day you get funding, because it may never come. If you have a film that needs a budget, then create another script that doesn't, showcase what you can do, you will have more chance of pitching an idea to investors if you have something to show them. There is always a way to stay creative and keep creating, you just have to stay open minded.
I have written a list that I refer to each week, I have called it 'Things to do to help my creative pathway'; I list anything that I can do myself with little expense that I can get out there to an audience:
1) write and perform monologues
2) paint something once a month
5) write a minimum of 150 words a day either on my book or for a script
That is just a little example of the things on my list, I focus on doing one or two a week, don't pressure yourself into being a super productive monster, just set a task to do something creative that week, before you know it you will be so used to doing it, suddenly your doing 5 things a week and you don't feel any pressure. The trick is to enjoy what ever you do, stop thinking 'is this going to lead to something', it probably won't but to stay active in the industry you need to have work out there for people to see. So get creative, stay active and post your work on platforms. Even if only 1 person watches your video or reads your blog, that is still one audience member who has seen what you are doing, it counts!
Over the last few months I have had the real bug for writing, I enjoy it, I love creating from scratch and so I poured this energy into writing my book. I read on a writers blog that John Grisham who was working as a lawyer at the time made the task of writing 300 words a day for his first novel, so I decided to lower mine to 150. Why? Well as any writer knows some days you just can't be arsed to be creative, 150 words is simply a paragraph, I knew even if I was not feeling overly creative I could at least manage a paragraph a day. Well by setting that task what happened was quite astonishing. I already had about 40,000 words written from previous months, once I set a 150 word a day limit I actually got more creative, infact I was averaging about 800-2000 words a day, within 2 months I had finished my first book all 88,000 words! Not only this but I have already started on the second book and within a week I am over 3000 words in! Small easy targets that you know you can even do on the days you feel down out are the way forward, constant work, always creating, it truely lifts the soul.
I posted that I had written my first book and a friend contacted me asking if I would like her to read and edit, obviously I jumped at this, I haven't written a book just for me to read it, like an actor is meant to perform to an audience, so a book is meant to be read by people. Once I have the edit back I plan to release snippets on here. It doesn't matter to me if some people don't like it, what matters is that I like it, I have written something based on what I like and enjoy, that is what matters!
If you are feeling in a rut creatively I strongly suggest reading this book: 'Real Artists don't starve' By Jeff Goins, here is a quote that I love from the book:
'What does it mean to be a “real artist”? It means you are spending your time doing the things that matter most to you. It means you don’t need someone else’s permission to create. It means you aren’t doing your work in secret, hoping someone may discover it someday. It means the world is taking your work seriously'
this book has really helped me thinking differently about the way I have been viewing myself as an artist, maybe it can help you!
Peace and Love