Dark Arts³

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Apex – Acting

This week I’ve been busy laying the foundations for Dark Arts³.  A new company that I created that focuses on helping people with their digital marketing. Woman can not live on acting alone. Well, not in Norwich, she can’t. Paid acting work is like finding a Willy Wonka golden ticket around these parts.  I had enough of the cabbage diet during my master’s last year. I’m getting a little fed up with being a poor actor. So, I’m supporting my creative practice with my other skills which, to be honest, I have totally taken for granted.

Face – Writing

My writing is a little on hold at the moment. Not by choice, it’s difficult to be focused on writing when I have so many distractions right now . Also, I have an announcement to make regarding writing, but I haven’t been given the go-ahead to allow me to officially announce as yet. 

Base – Digital Marketing

Putting together a website and getting my marketing sorted during my studies was easy. I studied Computer Science and Business, had worked in marketing and SEO between my undergrad and MA. It’s what I loved to do. That part of my master’s degree was not a challenge for me.  I assumed that everyone knew what I knew and could do what I can do.

I quickly realised that, just as I am always learning and growing, and I don’t know what I don’t know yet. Others were just like that regarding digital marketing.  Because of my own insecurities and humbled by all the things that I don’t know and still have to learn, I didn’t stop and think about all of the things that I do know. All the skills and knowledge that I have that I take for granted. Things that I just do because they are now part of who I am, but are mysterious dark arts to others.

It took a one to one meeting with Suzie from Meta Value to knock some reality into me. A series of workshops over the following few days, just reinforced and pushed me further into the same direction. Serendipity struck, as it tends to when I am wandering about happily. The name of Dark Arts³ (Dark Arts Cubed) came to me, walking home from UEA, alone with my thoughts, whilst mulling over the options and thinking about what was blocking me from getting my business up and running.

Dark Arts³

This is the base that supports my acting and writing and now makes my creative practice stronger.  I wouldn’t be a good writer or marketer if I hadn’t gone off at a tangent researching the significance of the number 3. I’m not a religious, spiritual or superstitious person. I am very much, I think, a person of reason, but the repeated significance of the number, historically, culturally, in religion, myth, literature, art etc fascinated me. Even my great-aunt used to tell me everything comes in threes. And now, so do I  😁

How Actors Can Easily do Self-Taping at Home

Image of film camera for Self Taping at Home blog post
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Self-Taping at Home – Quick and Easy to Setup

Self-taping at homeI was thinking about constructing an area for self-taping at home, over a year ago now, but I got so engrossed in my master’s degree and finding ways of not having to work for anyone else, that it got put on a shelf under piles of research notes and essays.

Since my course ended, I’ve had to spend my time searching for some work that, other than for monetary gain, I would not want to do. An amazing kick in the creative motivations. So, when I finally got a breather over the festive season, whilst all the normies were celebrating,  I finally had time to get on with it.

Marie Cooper Actor Self-Tape still
Just needs a little more light needed to get rid of the shadow, but otherwise sufficient for a quick self-tape

I was a little  annoyed with myself for not setting it all up much sooner as it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. It turned out that I had everything I needed for a basic setup already to hand.

What I used for Self-Taping at Home

  • Smartphone to do the recording. The quality of phone cameras nowadays is more than sufficient.
  • Tripod to hold my phone. I picked it up secondhand and cheap many years ago whilst I was doing a City & Guilds in Photography. (With real, film cameras – it was that long ago). It’s heavy but strong and stable.
  • Tripod adaptor to hold the smart phone to the tripod.
  • Roller-blind or sheet to use as a backdrop to record against. I had an old, broken roller blind. It was too heavy to hang from the wall initially, but with the roller mechanism removed, it was fine.
  • Hooks. I found I had a couple of hooks that might hold the blind up in my tool box (but they would have been very easy and cheap to get hold of from any hardware store). I didn’t think they would be screw into the wall or be strong enough to hold or that the bottom pole would slot behind the hooks. It’s not perfect but it’s enough to hold it securely so that it doesn’t fall on my head.
  • Light source – I think that lighting in my room might be okay. I did a self-tape using just he overhead lighting and it came out okay. However, I do have a couple of small lamps around the house if there are unwanted shadows in the way.
  • The microphone stand is a bit of a red herring.  It wasn’t there to hold a microphone, it was there to hold my lines 😳
  • I have a Lavalier clip-on microphone, I bought a few years back for recording video audio, that I was intending to use. But the camera is so close to me, I think the sound was perfectly adequate without it.

Easy up, Easy down

I could have left everything set up in the corner of my room but 1) My cat is an ******** and he will probably try to climb up it, pull it down or scratch it the moment I walk out of the room. 2) I don’t want the corner of my bedroom looking as if it’s set up to record videos 24/7 and 3) Maybe I’ll get tempted to Vlog if I leave it up, and nobody wants that. The whole setup is pretty quick and easy to dismantle. I just have to lift the blind off the hooks, re-roll it and it rests nicely on the top of my curtain pole out of the way. All the other equipment folds away.

How to make the Self-tape

I watched the video on How to Self-Tape at Home on Spotlight‘s website.  It contains pretty much all you need to know. But remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive high tech cameras. If you have a decent smart phone in your pocket, you already have the most important thing you need.

So, what’s stopping you? Go tape your face! I hope that you find it easy to do and that you can now get videos out to casting agents. Happy new year and I hope that you all find your dream acting roles in 2019.

Woodbridge with Summer Isle Films

Image of Woodbridge Shire Hall
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Spent a fantastic few hours with Summer Isle Films, down in the beautiful town of Woodbridge in Suffolk last night. A pretty little place, just off the coast, with the most charming streets lined with independent stores.

Filming for IP Twelve Lettings

Summer Isle Films were filming a commercial around the town for a local estate agents IP Twelve Lettings.  I am glad the brief was to wrap up warm in hats and scarfs and that I, as an afterthought popped my thermals on. It was a bit chilly as the night drew in.

The first priority of the evening was to get everyone into the warm café with a hot drink for a bit of indoor filming. It was the perfect opportunity for everyone to have a chat, get to know each other and warm up whilst the filming of the first scene went on around us.

The whole shoot was highly professional and despite the town centre being surprisingly busy, with traffic and people heading off home for the night, the schedule ran smoothly. Tom Newman, producing the shoot, was thoughtful and considerate, ensuring that the cast and crew were well looked after, fed and coffee-ed, even to the point of making sure that everyone could get back on their way home safely when their scenes were over.

Woodbridge

I wish I’d arrived in town earlier in the day and given myself a chance to explore.  I could have left slightly earlier, but I hadn’t realised that there was so much there. I hadn’t even noticed that there was a theatre right next to the train station until I walked back down the hill to the railway station. It seems that there is lots to see and do around the town, including museums, a windmill, park and walks.  I really must make an effort to come back and have a proper look around. Probably when it’s a bit warmer though.

We finished just in time to catch the Ipswich train. Then, by stroke of bad luck, the London train was running late. Serendipity for me however, as it meant that the train pulled up within minutes of my eloping the previous one. By the time I eventually got home it was coming up to 11 pm. A long day as I left the house just before 9 am. But well worth it. I arrived back home, tired but ecstatic, feeling tremendous gratitude to be doing work that I love.

Acting as if there is Someone Waiting

Someone Waiting header with dates
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Someone Waiting by Emlyn Williams

We have just started rehearsals for ‘Someone Waiting’ by Emlyn Williams with the Great Hall Theatre Company in Norwich. I had a great first rehearsal on Monday. I always love the first one. It’s like Christmas. Meeting a whole new group of people, all coming together with a shared goal and a real passion to create something special.

New Challenges

I have a small, but significant and challenging role to play.  It made me chuckle, because although it is the smallest part I’ve taken on in a while, it’s ticking a large number of things that I have never done on stage before, off of my acting bucket list. It turns out that my character in this play is quite a little firecracker.  I have to act drunk, slap someone and kiss a couple of people.

Accent

My character, Hilda, has an East London (Cockney) accent. I’ve never had to use that accent before so I will be swatting up. I’ve done a little bit of research and have quite a long list of movies that have characters with an East London accent in. No, I most certainly do not have Mary Poppins on that list. I will be watching some of the movies over the coming weeks to get accustomed to hearing the accent and try to get the accent in my head, along with my lines. These are some of the suggestions I found online to choose from and I’m ticking them off as I watch them:

Alfie (1966)
Bronco Bullfrog (1969)
Green Street (2005)
Hue and Cry (1947)
✔ It Always Rain on Sunday (1942)
✔ Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Made in Dagenham (2010)
My Brother the Devil (2012)
Spider (2002)
The Bespoke Overcoat (1956)
The Long Good Friday (1980)
The Sweeney (2012)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Seeing as binge-watching The Punisher to pick up an American accent last year for Noel Coward worked, it can’t hurt to try the aural osmosis approach once again.

Drunk

There is also a point in the play where my character becomes quite drunk. I’ve never had to play drunk on stage before, so that is something I need to really work on. I mean work on playing drunk, not getting drunk. I have plenty of former experience in the latter.  Apparently it is quite difficult to do well. There are some good tips on Backstage on their article about  ‘Playing Drunk’  which I will be reading through and practising before we rehearse that scene.
 

Slap

When I first read through the play I somehow totally managed to miss reading that I have to slap one of my fellow actors. I remember in classes, some years ago, we were going to go through on-stage slapping but we ended up changing our minds and just did a ‘shove’ instead. I think it’s because the tutor didn’t have time to go through stage fighting with the entire class. 

If you hold back it looks really naff and is obviously faked. But you also can’t just go around slapping other actors because, well, it’s not much fun for the person getting slapped and they might end up getting injured. I will have to look up and learn how to do it properly, so that it looks as if I am hitting hard, without actually knocking my fellow actor’s head off. Seriously though, I read that many actors end up in the hospital when it’s executed wrong. Executed! Possibly the wrong choice of word.  I mean ‘done’ wrong. ‘Done!’

Kiss

I’ve never had to kiss anybody on stage as yet either. But in this play I have to  kiss two of my fellow actors.  I don’t even know where to start with this one. I suspect it might be a little embarrassing at first. On the plus side I’m not in a relationship at the moment so I don’t have to have the awkward “It’s only acting darling” conversation.  On the downside, I guess I’m going to have to avoid my favourite garlicky foods and remember to take my toothbrush to rehearsals.

Acting Bucket List, Cha-Ching! 😆

✔ Cockney (East London) Accent
✔ Slapping someone hard across the face
✔ Stage kiss
✔ Playing drunk

 

‘Someone Waiting’ by Emlyn Williams and directed by John Bury, will be performed at The Assembly House in Norwich
by the Great Hall Theatre Company 
22nd and 26th January 2019
Tickets are available online from TicketSource

 

 

Write Here. Write Now

500 Words Writing Challenge pen and paper
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I’m re-starting the My500Words challenge. Why? Sadly, I can’t go to either of my writing classes any more. Script East has moved too far away for me to walk to at night and the previously free, ‘Read, Write, Chat’ has started charging, so I can’t afford to go. I don’t have any paid work at the moment and I’m struggling to get by, so even £4 is £4 too much.

It would be easy to feel sad, but actually it’s liberating. Meeting to write was too tempting a reason to write. I shouldn’t need a reason and a place and a time. I have everything I need right here.

So I am re-starting the #My500Words writing challenge to get me back into a writing habit. To kick it off I’ve started a new blog over at www.mariecooperactor.blogspot.com