By Scott Michael Wagstaff
I've lived in London solidly for the last four years but dipped in and out of it over the last nine. I’ve always been performing and acting but have certainly been one actor to have his fingers in many pies at once to help further develop my career. I’ll be talking about each individual pie throughout in more detail via each on going blog I imagine as there’s a lot to share but for now I’ll give you an intro to myself of course and touch on each pie if you will!
The growth of London has been rapid over the past 4 years and it’s extremely exciting, it’s all become very fast paced very quickly, at the turn of every corner there is something happening for our industry and I don’t see this momentum slowing down any time soon…I only see it speeding up.
Intro/Pie number 1 - The Actor:
|On Location playing lead role Izaak in Final Reflection.
Photo Credit: Final Reflection - Studio4Films - Jon Snapaway Photography
4 years ago I left my continuous musical theatre travelling work behind (yes the sun, sand and sea kind! What was I thinking?!) and came to solidly set myself in the famous Big Ben capital to transform my career into purely acting, my passion since I was 8 and what I was told was my ‘forte’ in musical theatre college! Was it a challenge going from singing, dancing and exaggerated acting (smacking we call it) in theatre to screen? YES!!! Have I been successful in that transition so far? YES!!! But let's save that story for another time. What to remember for now is you can be whoever you want to be, you just need to trust you can re-brand yourself just like a business, that's what we are at the end of the day, but it certainly starts with surrounding yourself with like-minded people, which helps me elaborate even further on London’s rapid growth...
Being a Londoner in the most recent times especially has given me more opportunities to meet all kinds of creatives, and not just the kind who wow you with what they're doing with their creative life but ones that also want to collaborate to better themselves and the people they meet! Ever since the independent film market has become more accessible (thanks to technology) I see collaboration happening more, and it's just inspiring! I can't think of anything more exciting happening right now! I back this movement largely, it's not only opened up a whole world of new exciting creatives but also a new larger platform for actors work, it's all related back to surrounding yourself with the right people…
Pie Number 2 - The Actor who makes Films:
|The Day My Co-Filmmaker, Lauren Cooney, and I wrapped our debut feature film 'Pendulum' in India
I myself ended up venturing on making a debut feature film in India with who is now an absolute friend for life/business partner, along with an unbelievably awesome cast and crew (again, a story for another time!). So collaborate people!! It will fire you up to lengths in your career that you could never imagine, be prepared to work hard but to rake in some reward off of that, the old saying 'hard work pays off' doesn't exist for nothing! So this is the kind of world you’ll bump into a lot in London at the moment, I can guarantee if you dare to talk to someone in a hip coffee shop in Soho or Shoreditch (the likes of TAP coffee for example), then you’re most likely to end up talking to someone who’s film industry related, someone who may just be looking for his/her cast for their next big project, someone who may just take a liking to you…you see where I’m going with this. That’s the world we live in today, endless possibilities as long as you stay open to the idea of it all in my opinion!
Pie Number 3: The Actor who got into Casting:
"...Casting Directors to Directors to Producers just want you to excel in that room..."
I’ve been lucky enough to see the London side of casting at it’s best, over the past 10 months I’ve been working as a freelance-casting assistant on the side. It all started out with being intrigued as to what is on the other side and how it all works. Luckily enough I got to work with one of the most respected casting offices who work internationally as well as in London. One advantage of this is that I’ve been seen for some high profile shows/films as an actor as they know me well & understand my ability to act yes but I can’t tell you enough how much it is worth to understand the casting process as an actor. You start to understand how much everyone from Casting Directors to Directors to Producers just want you to excel in that room in this city and I’m sure it’s the same everywhere else. No one is ever against you here, they are with you, the whole expression of ‘You’re enough’ rings truer than ever from what I’ve learned so far in that realm, and I’ll be happy to talk about all of that a lot more in the future. The great thing about London’s casting is that some very exciting movements are being made with British Independents, a film called Kajaki was cast full of ‘unknown’ actors, another example is Jeremy Zimmerman, he cast one of my good friends as one of the leads in NBC/Universal’s new show A.D. Casting offices are completely backing actors and believe in new talent, doors are being opened a lot here and from what I see there’s room and plans for more!
Off the back of that London certainly is booming with business this year already. I have a few friends who are agents and they have told me that pilot season has pretty much landed over here as much as it has in LA…can you say tax break? I mean that’s the big advantage we have now, tax breaks are hugely attractive to productions, and while that exists here we’ll just be seeing more and more productions land their casting here in the UK and shoot overseas.
Pie Number 4 (that really is part of Pie 1) - The Actor who keeps Training
Then there’s the training, again lots to talk about here, The Actors Temple, AMAW London, TheActors Centre, The Actors Studio in Pinewood. There’s a lot to keep you on your toes here in London and I feel the American weekly on-going training style starting to seep more and more into London. This is great, as we do have to keep our instrument up and running! You don’t see musicians leave their guitars packed up for a while with no practice! So there’s a fair few choices to explore in Central London (and just outside) to keep the engine running, something I’d like to touch more on in the future too. I feel I’ve been spoilt for choice with the training choices and can tell you that the communities in a few of these places are very strong and breath a lot of interest just as much as the training does.
So the same rules apply, be pro-active, be social, network, create your own work, actively look for the work out there yourself and with your agent. London is a HUGE city, yes there are lots of Actors but there are also lots of jobs, dare to go outside of the box for the search, you will find something or it will find you. Go to those coffee shops and say hi to a stranger, go to those networking events and ask someone about what they’re up to, go work in a casting office for a week or two, be completely social. Most importantly know yourself well and your own marketing will follow, leading to roles/projects you’ll love and enjoy!
I look forward to sharing more with you all.