Friday, May 17, 2013

In the Neighbours Hood

I'm only with my new agent a couple of weeks when I get an audition for a popular TV soapie. She emails me the script and I set about practising my lines in the bathroom mirror in between teeth cleaning and face washing.

Two days later I’m at an audition in the suburban Melbourne studios. The building looks decidedly unglamorous but I know I'm in the right place when a Neighbours tour bus drives in through the boom gates and rolls slowly past the foyer, the occupants undoubtedly seeking a glimpse of a soapie star. Alas, tis only I.

The audition is over in a flash and I'm on my way home again, wishing I had said my lines differently. No need though, because a few days later my agent calls me to tell me I have the part!

First up is a wardrobe call. My man swans around me, saying he can ‘do magic’. He gives me a handbag and tells me to ‘own it’ then demonstrates how to carry it on my arm. I drink it all in because without question, he does it better than I do. In an effort to find an outfit suitable for my character, a ‘stylish and sophisticated semi retired naturopath with a penchant for diamonds', they bring me a skirt and some shoes that belong to the longest running female character in the show’s history!

On the shoot day I arrive early and after donning my ensemble, I’m taken to hair and make-up only to find the actress who plays the longest running female character in the show’s history having her hair done. I slink into the chair, hoping she doesn’t notice that I am wearing her clothes!

Back in the green room I act like I’m part of the furniture. Okay, maybe that’s not such a good idea as the couches have seen better days. But I almost manage to work the coffee machine (lukewarm's fine-really) and I mingle with the cast like I'm a regular and a couple of them even talk to me!

As I’m escorted by one of the ADs to the location next door I pass by some forlorn looking extras. I glance at them with sympathy. They gaze at me with envy. Ah, it does not seem that long ago that I was one of them. But now I am an actor in Australia's longest running TV soap.

With three lines.

I have made it.

Seriously, though, it was a great experience. There wasn't any direction to speak of, apart from blocking but they clearly assume you know what you are doing (I sort of did!) and the crew was highly professional. Pretty impressive really when you consider how much pressure they are under to produce five episodes every week.
Anyway, I had fun and my episode screens 9th August! (UK 6th September) Yay!
Next up, an audition for a Coles ad!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Murder and Management Mayhem

February 2013

My first two acting jobs this year are worlds apart. It's lucky I'm so versatile. In the first gig I do a scene that involves running screaming across a vacant lot to my 'son' who is lying dead on the ground, the victim of an out of control drug dealer. This comes quite naturally to me.

For the second, I must centre myself and find my character's motivation, summoning my naturalistic acting skills—the result of much study of Stanislavksi's method—to play a senior manager delivering advice about employee 'development plans' and 'potential matrixes' via an autocue, for a corporate video.

And not only am I a versatile actor. I’ve got a wardrobe to match. A cardi for the ‘mum’, a suit for the ‘manager’. Perfect.

The truth is, both jobs are great experience but the first is a lot more fun, even though there's no pay! I get to work with a bunch of very switched on VCA students on an independent feature film (This Little Piggy) and the role is small, but I love the dramatic challenge. The corporate video requires me to do literally pages of a script, mainly to camera, and to make management jargon sound conversational! My task is not aided by the fact that I get the script less than two days before the shoot (agent's bungle) and barely get through the dialogues I have to learn by heart. It's a paid gig so I feel bad I'm not as prepared as I should be, but on the other hand, they're not paying me enough to feel really, really bad! (And it’s not like the job gave me anything I could use for my showreel, you know.)

Incidentally, the film role came about through one of the lead guys from Monster Pies (which just won Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film in the recent Melbourne Queer Film Festival). Who knows what's next? But hopefully my new agent and new headshots will be a step in the right direction on my journey from anonymity to stardom!