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.)
Can you tell us a bit about The Television Workshop?
We work with young people aged from seven up to 21 and we audition about 1000 members every year to be part of the group. We were set up in 1983 alongside Central Studios when ITV used to make a lot of programming in Nottingham and then the studios closed about 20 years ago and the workshop was able to continue as a charity.
So now it’s an independent charity and the reason it's a charity is that we give bursaries, we offer free and half-price training to the students that we have. For example, anyone that's kind of talented and is interested in professional opportunities in TV, film, radio and on stage as well. They come to us and we run workshops with them. This can be after school workshops, either after school or at the weekend and the bulk of what we do is improvisation. It’s about getting them to be natural, it's called the Television Workshop because it's about screen performance. It's about finding that honesty and the truth in the moment and connecting with real situations and characters, it’s all about naturalism and subtlety.
We also run as an agency on the side, they get put up for castings and we take a commission on those, which is part of how we work and how we can continue. We also do a lot of script work but generally, it’s about improvisation and really just connecting to the real things and being able to play very natural versions of themselves.
What productions have you serviced, are they local or national - or even further afield?
It’s all over the globe really, the Workshop’s reputation has been going for many decades now, we started before I was even born, but I was a member of the workshop when I was younger as well. So I started at 7 and kind of went up to 21 and then began kind of teaching and directing. It was initially connected to ITV so a lot of the work that we did was for CITV when they used to make programmes. And then the BBC came on board and we have a group in Salford as well, so we do a lot of stuff for BBC and the CPVC. Our reputation stretches far and wide, with many film or TV companies that are looking for a young actor approach us from across the world. Some of our actors have interest from American productions at the moment. We’ve also done lots of work for Channel 4 and lots of independent local companies as well. Anywhere there's stuff with young people in, we're in there.
Tell us your take on the local filmmaking scene in Nottingham?
I think the scene’s fantastic, there’s always something different going on, there’s always really original work being made and it's nice to see filmmakers that you've worked with. Maybe they've been an assistant on a set or they've been helping out in some way and they've been student directors and then you see them grow up and graduate and we keep that relationship with them. It’s nice when they come back years later and they’re using our kids still even though they’re doing bigger and better things. It’s awesome to see a lot of the corporate work that goes on as well. There's some creative, interesting corporate work that we've been involved in too.
I think having the BFI based at Broadway and the East Midlands connection that brings has been great. We've had members of the workshop that have gone on to become producers and directors and writers that have done stuff through the local BFI and there's a film at the moment that's about to come out that was a BFI project. We've got loads of loads of young people in that film and I think the scenes are great! It’s quite a small city so it’s nice that everybody seems to know each other quite well as you see the same sort of people bouncing about through different projects, it’s a good little community. There is also that guerrilla attitude to filmmaking where you just go out and do it and people can work on really low budgets and do some creative interesting things. So, I'm always excited to see what comes out of the Nottingham film scene.
If people are looking for talent for their video shoots what is the best thing to do - tell us about the casting process?
Normally, someone who's making a film or a TV show or a project would come to us and they’d email us a casting breakdown, which would include the different characters they’re looking for and if they have any specific ideas about their age and their appearance, we then have a look through our casting database. We've got everybody in our Workshop on a database and it has their CV and their photos uploaded. We download those and we send over the suggestions to the project for casting, and then often they will ask for us to see some tapes.
This is happening a lot more at the moment because in-person auditions are quite difficult in this environment, but that has often happened anyway, the first audition will often be taped. Usually, they’ll send us a little bit of their script or they'll ask them to introduce themselves on camera and chat a little bit about themselves. We like to support a workshop as much as possible meaning we’d bring them in and work with them and give them some feedback and notes on their tapes and then send those off. After this, there’s often the next round of auditions and they’ll go in person and meet them and see what the vibe is in the room and see if the chemistry is right and then hopefully they’ll be taken on board and cast in the project.
Cheers guys! Check out some of their work over here:
Edited for clarity by Esme Johnson.