On the weekend of 28th to 30th October I took part in the Smoke & Mirrors 48 hour film festival, the very same festival that last year produced what we lovingly refer to as ‘the wanking film’. Have I told you about that one? Oh I must do one of these days. Anyway, the ever excellent Paul Jones and Niamh Mulcahy enlisted my services, along with Ewan Henesy and Matthew Leigh, to make a film in 48 hours, the theme of which was revealed as ‘Lost’. After a Saturday spent in Morden Hall Park, running around being crazy, getting stung by nettles and getting generally hot and bothered, followed by a presumably intense editing experience the rest of the weekend, we ended up with something we’re actually pretty pleased with. It didn’t get shortlisted, but nevermind, it’s a pretty interesting piece as far as I’m concerned, and different from what I normally seem to end up doing!
So I did this short film the other week, well a few weeks ago, is that OK? I can’t actually say much about it as I signed a confidentiality agreement. Hell I’m not even sure I’m supposed to be writing this post, but I just wanted to mention it as it’s pretty action packed, the director (Zoltan Csirko) is a lovely guy, but most importantly of all, check out the still above and see how I can act with a bag. That’s right, I am holding… a bag. It was my bloody idea too, to have the bag in the scene. Makes the scene more real. This is exactly the kind of thing I can bring to the table.
As I haven’t posted anything on here for a while (doesn’t time fly!) I thought I’d post this clip from the 2001 film of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. I’ve actually been learning this speech, not that I really see myself reeling this is off in an audition (unless it’s for the part of Lucky of course), but more just to see if I could actually memorise it. The speech itself is printed entirely without any punctuation, and all the versions I find online have slight descrepancies with the printed text, but Stephen Brennan gets it bang on here.
Strangely, I have a vivid memory of being shown this clip on a video at school… even though I’d comfortably left school by 2001.
Don’t worry. Playing a crazy, horse punching, dressing gown wearing, Skips eating weirdo hasn’t completely rubbed off on me. I really am Jesus. Well, in the animation above I am anyway.
So all good things come to an end. Also, this play came to an end (Just kidding, Luke). The last 2 nights were really good, and the (sell out!) crowds were amazing. Thanks to everyone who came down and made this week a really enjoyable one.
Despite drinking about a gallon of undiluted lemon cordial (with toothpaste mixed in)*, having to fall on my face then getting sat on every night, getting slapped in the face every night, shouting myself hoarse, running around the stage in flip flops trying not to slip on crushed Skips, not being able to relax until I’d successfully made the phone ring in my pocket and then done my harmonica bit… I had a great time. Luke, Rob, Stefan, Hannah, Fleur, Pete: it was a pleasure working with you. I hope I never see you again.
*it was pointed out to me on the penultimate night, that we probably could’ve diluted the cordial without anybody realising. That would’ve been cheating though.
I always find doing theatre surreal. Doing the same thing night after night to very different crowd reactions can be very bizarre. OK, doing the same scene over and over again in TV or film for different camera angles while trying to remember exactly what you did with your hands to avoid effortlessly screwing up the continuity could also be thought of as surreal, but I find that less so than getting a big laugh on a line one night and a stoney silence the next night.
Last night we had a very quiet crowd. The occasional glimpse of a face would generally show a smile, and feedback afterwards was good, but it’s amazing how hard it can be to keep the energy up when in your mind you’re constantly thinking: “God, they hate it!”. As a despondant Luke Kaile came off stage after breaking for the interval I’m sure I helped no end with my comment: “I wonder how many of them will come back?”, but that’s the way it goes.
Another thing I’m finding a new experience is people seeming to think I’m actually the same as my character. If you haven’t seen the play, I spend a lot of time being very aggressive, unpredictable, creepy and violent. Some people have timidly come up to me in the bar afterwards and told me how scary I was, which instantly prompts me in to becoming very meek and awkward, saying things like “oh, er, sorry about that! Er, thanks for coming!” One night I couldn’t believe my ears when Hannah (Lydia) and Fleur (Nanou) both revealed they had friends who had wanted to meet the cast, but not me because they were too scared! I wonder if this is what soap actors feel like as people shout their character names at them in the street, berating them for some foul deed they’ve just seen on TV, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the actor and character are not actually the same.
Anyway, I’m happy to say that our first review is a very good one, and I’d like to say well done to everyone involved. Interestingly, considering what an impact my character seems to make, whether good or bad, the reviewer hasn’t made even the slightest reference to me, good or bad! Perhaps she was too scared…
(last performances tonight 7pm and Sunday 6pm)
So we’ve done a couple of nights of A Criminal Audition and the reaction so far has been really good. There seem to have been laughs, groans and gasps in the right places. Luke’s got a bump on his head, while I’ve hurt my knee and have accidentally exposed myself to Rob (although not to the audience). I think we’ve pretty much sold out for most nights except last night and tonight so hopefully it’s going to get better and better. Hopefully…
I meant to post this up before now, but rehearsals and fitting in shooting a TV pilot (which I’ll post about later) have kept me busy, among other things. Anyway, last night was our opening night for A Criminal Audition, a play written by and starring Luke Kaile. I’m playing a character called Meridius who is basically crazy and spends the entire play in a dressing gown threatening people, creeping people out, and shouting a lot. It’s an interesting play for many reasons, but what stands out for me is the fact that I went to see this play last year in its original form, and now I’m in it as the only new character amongst the original cast.
It doesn’t take a vast audience to make the Etcetera look rammed, but it was packed out with a great crowd who seemed to enjoy it, and I think the play is very well suited to an intimate setting. I look forward to the rest of the run and will post up some photos shortly.
OK, so this is even more lame than the amount of lameness I’m normally associated with. It’s been several months since my last update, which, for the handful of people who maybe read this, may have been an indication that I was in some way deceased. Well, let me tell you, I am not deceased. I am alive (in case that wasn’t clear). Since Burgess finished (previous post) I’ve got right back into messing around in front of the camera again. The sad fact that I had to drop out of a filmI was cast in due to Burgess rehearsal schedules has been almost forgotten from my being cast in the lead role in a great TV comedy pilot (“Rules of Life”), and a dramatic short film called “A Life, Unfulfilled”, the trailer for which has been getting good feedback, and will hopefully do well in festivals. I’ll keep this post brief, but please check out the trailer at http://www.vimeo.com/24075432 if you can be bothered. The film also stars a great actor called Moj Taylor, and I tell you: I’ve never done so much running in my life.
On Sunday 30th January we did our thing for the 18th and last time. I meant to actually update this blog at least a couple of times during the run to try and give a feel for how the play was developing over the weeks. I never got round to it though did I. Doing 6 nights a week while working 5 days a week as well doesn’t really leave a lot of free time to be honest. However, I will say thank you very much to everyone who came down to see the play – it really was greatly appreciated. I had a great time acting with, and getting to know the cast and crew, and hope to see everyone again soon. We even had some good reviews, got mentioned on the BBC Review Show, got some great photos out of it (check out my photo page), and nothing really went wrong. I have learned that I can’t swing a golf club properly, that Russian is quite a difficult language, but most importantly of all that no matter how many times I pretend to kiss and be fellated by another man while wearing a swastika armband… it never gets any less awkward.
John Morrison, the writer, very kindly gave us all postcards after the final night, and I’ll leave you with mine as I just think it’s really nice of him.
It would appear that for some reason (desperation presumably) I’ve been cast in “A Morning with Guy Burgess”, written by John Morrison and directed by Dimitry Devdariani which runs from 11th to 30th January, every night except Mondays at the Courtyard Theatre. I’m playing Donald Maclean, associate of Guy Burgess, as well as a few fairly different minor characters which so far is a lot of fun. Apparantly the BBC are coming down to film part of it too… *gulp*
There’s an interview with the writer here.
At the end of November, one very cold Sunday, I filmed a part in a TV comedy pilot that features Ian Cullen, who has starred in Z Cars and Family Affairs. I played a doctor friend of the main character who actually utters the first words in the show. I should say that although it was freezing cold and that when I turned up in the afternoon the other actors were close to death, my scenes were actually indoors, so I can’t really complain.
A few weeks ago I was asked by Jon Kerby and Paul Jones (who I worked with on Tax Cuts and respect immensly – although I’d never tell them that) to star in a short film they were going to make as part of the Smoke and Mirrors 48 hour film festival. The idea is you get given a theme for your film at 7pm on the Friday, then have till 7pm on the Sunday to write, film, edit and submit your finished film to them. The theme was ‘size’ and a great script was written by Chris Silver, which basically involved me as some weirdo bursting into a married couple’s house and competing with the husband (played by Chris) in trying to impress his wife (played by Chris’ actual girlfriend Sofia).
I won’t spoil it too much as I’ll wait until it’s online, but I had to burst in on the two of them in the shower, getting in between them ‘naked’, stuff my face with a fried breakfast which was fairly cold by the time we got to filming (and I had a hangover), and end up ‘naked’ again in their lounge.
I’ve put a couple of photos up in my photos section, and I apologise if one of them in particular makes you feel a little ill.
So usually I only post about things here when I’ve actually got a still from the film or whatever (unless it’s a gig flyer!). Having already bucked that trend by posting about this film before I’d actually filmed my part, I’m going to post about the same film again before I’ve even seen an edit. Having said that though, I’m only going to be brief here as I don’t really want to give anything away about the scene, other than the fact that I die in a fairly cool and messy way.
This shoot was a bit unsual though from my experience, as originally my scene was me performing a magic trick to 4 ‘friends’. This was then cut to 2 friends, and then on the day of the shoot when we were in position and all ready to go, one of my ‘friends’ just didn’t turn up, so the scene was then changed to just Miranda, the other actress who had turned up, and me.
It could have been a real disaster as it was freezing cold waiting for this guy, but we ended up having a great laugh nonetheless. I even improvised a fairly childish and expletive-heavy few lines about the other actor/’friend’ not turning up, which Chris the director actually decided to keep in, much to my amazement. Chris has actually written about Miranda and me in a very favourable light on his blog, for which I thank him very much. I look forward to seeing the final cut. Also, I should say thanks to Jenny for the spare jeans after mine got covered in blood. Naturally the T-shirt and suit jacket they supplied at the beginning of the filming were completely blood-free, but that’s all part of the fun!
I posted about filming this back in July 2009 but it seems that now wherever I go I see big posters of Sally Hawkins advertising upcoming film Made in Dagenham (previous working titles: Dagenham Girls and We Want Sex). As you may or may not be aware, my very moving portrayal of a West Ham supporter, shouting and jeering at Sally Hawkins, Geraldine James and others as they try and gather support for their cause, is integral to the whole story, despite my total appearance time being something in the region of a few seconds.
Anyway, unbelievably you can actually see me in the trailer:
You can see me after about 1:11
What a performance.
I don’t normally post about roles I’m filming before I’ve actually done the filming. This is because I don’t have a lot to actually write about, and perhaps more importantly, I don’t have a photo or still from the shoot to make the post look more interesting and prove that I don’t just make all this stuff up.
However, in this case I thought I’d break the trend because firstly I was sick of seeing my post about my burst appendix, and secondly because the makers of the short film “scAIRcrows” (about killer scarecrows that fly) which I will be involved in, are regularly updating a blog about the whole film making process, which is an interesting read. At the time of writing, a lot of the filming has already taken place, but I’ll be doing my scene mid-September. Without giving too much away, I’m looking forward to having a good bit of dialogue before being killed in a gruesome fashion, especially since the last bit of filming I did before going under the knife for real, was also fairly blood focussed (Tax Cuts).
Check out www.scaircrows.com for more info.
On Monday 12th July I woke up with a stomache ache. It was a feeling I recognised from a year or two ago when I thought I hadn’t heated up some risotto rice properly. The day before I’d cooked a frozen pizza which maybe I’d underdone a little, so that was probably it: minor food poisoning. I took the day off work and just lounged around the house thinking the pain would probably pass by Tuesday.
Tuesday I woke up with a different feeling, as if the pain had moved down a little bit, but it was more bearable than the day before, so I went into work. I said to my manager that I still didn’t feel 100% so I would probably do a short day. He didn’t mind. He suggested if it gets worse I go to the doctor. I said I would but knew I probably wouldn’t as I didn’t feel too bad by this point.
Having left the office at 17:00, I started to feel a little discomfort in my guts. By the time I got off the bus and started walking up on to the platform I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. By the time I managed to limp into the station toilet, thinking that’s what I needed, I was doubled up in agony.
I quickly realised that I didn’t need the toilet as the searing pain spread in to my groin, but I still remember thinking to myself: Is this one of those times where you would actually call 999?
Luckily Vic turned up so we got a cab to Epsom General. I was going crazy, sweating, my hands were going numb, but to cut to the chase, after giving me morphine which didn’t work, the doctor diagnosed acute peritonitis and put me down for emergency surgery. Basically my appendix had burst and was spewing out whatever poisonous shit that it does in these circumstances. People have died from this of course, and apparantly 100 years ago you basically had no chance, and even now after 48 hours of it bursting you’re still a goner.
Despite the emergency I had to wait several hours to be transferred to a bed at St.Helliers, and when I eventually got there they insisted on rediagosing me themselves, “oh, Epsom always say it’s urgent” wheeling me back and forth for X-rays to check for kidney stones, sticking fingers up my backside despite the doctor at Epsom already doing that, not giving me any painkillers because they weren’t allowed, and then telling me my surgery would be delayed. When the third doctor came round prodding me and said “yes… I think it is your appendix” I felt like screaming “oh for fuck’s sake please just cut me open and have a look”. I went in for surgery the next day around noon. Good job I didn’t have anything serious.
Waking up with a catheter, and a drain sticking out of my abdomen, was not the most pleasant of experiences, but they took the catheter out on the Thursday and the drain on the Friday, which enabled me to start learning how to walk and go to the toilet again. They let me start eating and drinking on Friday too.
Some of the highlights of being on the ward were the man next to me vomitting, and an elderly gentleman who regularly moaned to the nurses that he couldn’t move his leg, before being reminded that his leg was actually broken.
On Friday night I was moved to a ‘quieter’ ward for recovery, where I shared with a man who consistenly moaned about his pain, despite having a far less serious version of what I had (i.e. he’d had his appendix out before it could burst), and subjected us to conversational gold like this:
Patient A: “I’m looking forward to seeing my little girl later”
Wife of Patient B: “Aw yeah, how old is she?”
Patient A: “A year and 9 months”
Wife of Patient B: “Aw they’re great at that age. They walk around a bit as if they’re drunk don’t they”
Patient A: “yeah, well my mate once gave her beer and I said I wasn’t happy with that, you know, you can’t give beer to a dog.”
Wife of Patient B: “Er… are we talking about a little girl or a dog?”
Patient A: “Yeah, my dog. I call her my little girl.”
So as I write this I’ve been home for over a week, no longer in pain, finished my antibiotics and had my stitches out at the doctor’s, but still very easily exhausted. I’ve been signed off from work until 9th August. I’ve never had my diary cleared so quickly in my life before (including the Pistol Gang gig!).
I have watched several films including all 3 Godfathers, The Deerhunter, Quadrophenia, About Schmidt, Hot Fuzz, Rat Race, The Damned United, Apollo 13, along with the first 2 seasons of the Sopranos and several episodes of the IT Crowd. I have also read the Day of the Jackal. Quite a productive use of time I think you’ll agree.
Thank you to everyone who texted me, phoned me, facebooked me and visited me. Special thanks to everyone at work for buying me the Sopranos, but extra special thanks go to Vic for sticking with me the first night, and consistantly letting her workload build up to come in and help me with all the degrading things like washing me and helping me to the toilet.
Hope to see you all soon.
On Saturday, June 12th 2010, I appeared in a rehearsed reading of FEED ME! by Mike Coleman, directed by Richard Irvine Lavery. This was part of the fourth ‘Sitcom Saturday’, conceived and organised by Alice Josephs, founder of RealDeal Theatre, a Saturday evening event presenting six new sitcoms as professionally directed and acted out script-in-hand performances. It was held at Westminster Reference Library, London, and seemed to actually go down pretty well.
I don’t mean it to sound like I didn’t think it would, but I did have to perform in a Yorkshire accent, which I thought was a recipe for disaster. Still, I would like to thank Richard for casting me in the production, Mike for not questioning his decision (well, not in front of me anyway), and all the cast for being great to work with, in particular John Patton, who gave me some very useful guidance!
In April we started work on a great independant horror/black comedy called Tax Cuts, in which I was lucky enough to be cast as Isaac, one of the main roles. Without giving too much away, I play a ‘bailiff’ type of Tax collector in a world where blood donations are mandatory. Those who fail to pay their donations on time are paid a visit by me, along with my psychotic assistant Jeremy, played by Paul Davis, who take the blood by force (Tax Cuts – get it?).
The first half of the film is in a documentary style, with interviewer Fiona (Julia Cornish) and cameraman Tom (Rob Wainwright) following Isaac and Jeremy as they go about their business. Things take a turn for the worse when we find out that Tom’s daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Lace) owes a considerable debt, which brings Tom’s wife Emily (Emma Hay) and brother Derek (Jack Dean) in to the picture, and a bit of good old fashioned bloodshed.
We finished filming on the 3rd and 4th July, so the film is now in post production. Directed by Jon Kerby with admirable assistance from a great crew, in particular Jack Dean, this was a really great project to work on, and I can’t wait to see the finished edit. I was particularly moved when I learned that they wrote me some new lines for the last filming session inspired from the way I portayed the character during the first session. A great experience. I understand the film will be entered into next year’s FrightFest festival, among others.