With the pandemic wreaking havoc amongst the creative industries, we wanted to show our support by promoting some of our friends and partners in this series of interviews. Enjoy!
(All images © the person/organisation featured in the article.)
Tell us a little about The Actors Workshop!
The Actors Workshop is a training facility for anybody interested in learning the skills to become an actor, whether it be for a hobby or a professional career. We've got over 100 members who attend weekly classes and we also facilitate actors getting opportunities to do professional and non-professional acting jobs as well. We have several members who have gone off to do work on stage and screen professionally, We have a member who's in Hollyoaks another one in Doctors and somebody’s joining us that's currently in Coronation Street.
We also support younger or older actors who are going to audition for drama school, so making sure they're well prepared for that. As we grow and evolve, we're also producing our work as well as we’re in our 10th year now of running The Actor’s Workshop, we're looking at ways in which we can produce and develop work, which would be a vehicle for inexperienced actors to get their first production as by being part of an Actor's Workshop production.
What productions have you serviced, are they local or national - or even further afield?
We’ve serviced lots of productions and we’ve helped cast tons of stuff locally and most recently we've been working with the team that are developing the new films for the Nottingham Castle relaunch: we had about 25 who are acting or in character as sort of rebels or reformers and various people going back through to the English Civil War. This was interactive content, which has been shown at the new castle museum.
We’ve helped cast various TV shows, we were involved in the casting for the ITV Torvill and Dean movie when it came to Nottingham. We also did a very interesting project from the show Don’t Tell The Bride where the groom does a prank wedding and he wanted to take his wife on a very long set of pranks on the lead up to the wedding, which included being sprayed by a farmer with manure! So, one of our actors was the farmer and then the bride was then taken to a wedding that wasn't hers, she turned up and there was already a wedding in progress, so a bunch of our actors were sort of simulating a wedding so that when she turned up, they had a massive bust-up. That was great though because it involves casting all of the actors involved, working on and rehearsing some of the pranks and how the improvised dialogue around that might work, which was cool. I’ve done loads of stuff from audiobooks to TV shows to corporate videos and more!
Give us your take on the local filmmaking scene in Nottingham.
I'm a huge advocate for the local filmmaking scene and very passionate about the local industry and having come from an acting background primarily and worked nationally and internationally as an actor on film and TV. When I decided to pursue a career in filmmaking myself, I came back from London in 2004 or 2005 to Nottingham to do that, and I was so surprised to see just how well the local filmmaking industry was going.
There were a few very big names at the time, like Shane Meadows and then up-and-coming directors like Simon Ellis, who was being nominated for a BAFTA at the time, and there was a bunch of people and there was a lot more support from the local Film Council known as EM Media East Midlands. They would do yearly digital short film competitions, where a handful of short films would get a decent budget and then those filmmakers would be able to screen their films and have them shown locally and at film festivals internationally and it just felt that it was a brilliant time for young filmmakers to grow and develop and move into the industry. So, I was fortunate that I got into filmmaking then and I managed to make a lot of good contacts and draw some funding to develop my own company. So, I’ve always thought that Nottingham is just a brilliant place creatively. Obviously I’m biased but I think Nottingham is the flagship of creativity and Leicester and Derby are doing much better now.
In terms of visual arts, Nottingham has always flown the flag and the networking and how we work together locally is where I've always been impressed and it’s easy to make friends in the filmmaking community here, it’s very welcoming.
If people are looking for talent for their video shoots what is the best thing to do? Tell us about the casting process.
There are lots of ways people can cast but if they are interested in coming to The Actors Workshop to source talent for their productions, then the easiest thing to do is to just send an email, and they can just email email@example.com. We'll always try to support no matter what the budget is, or what the scale is. But, there are a few kinds of foundational things that we do require and that's a sense of whether the production is insured, are they following safe practices, because we do take safeguarding our members very seriously.
Nowadays anyone with a camera can set up a production and there are always going to be people that may use that as a vehicle to take advantage of passionate people, or even some actors become quite desperate if they've never done anything or they've not worked for a long time. So, we try to make sure that any projects that become involved with us are very safe and are a positive production to be involved in. Once we’ve attained that we usually help production by submitting actors through self-tapes, headshots, and showreels. Sometimes we work closely with filmmakers, and they come to our workshops and develop their ideas alongside us and the actors, so that they have the benefit of seeing their ideas come to life as filmmakers don’t always know what works until they see it, but it starts with dropping us an email and we’ll try to help if we can!
Cheers guys! Check out the Actors Workshop out here:
Edited for clarity by Esme Johnson.