Yesterday, I attended a one day intensive screen acting workshop run by Peter Wooldridge. Wooldridge has a brilliant reputation running The Workshop in Cardiff and I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to attend.
Wooldridge is an agent at ATSLI Casting and casting director. He specialises in training new talent in the film and television industry. His website says:
With over twenty years’ experience, his training workshops have introduced several established Welsh actors to the industry, notably Ioan Gruffudd, Adrian Lewis Morgan and Jan Anderson. More recent talented and aspiring actors include Craig Roberts, Darren Evans, Elinor Crawley and Hannah Daniel. They all started their careers at The Workshop
During the last ten years, he has also worked as a casting director and acting coach on a number of high profile international feature films.
His recent credits include ‘The Killer Elite’ starring Jason Statham, Robert de Niro and Clive Owen; ‘Nightwatching’, written and directed by Peter Greenaway, with Martin Freeman starring as Dutch artist, Rembrandt. This followed another Greenaway epic, a trilogy of films named ‘The Tulse Luper Suitcases’. Working with Oscar nominated Dutch director Ben Sombogaart, he cast the Dutch classic ‘Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek’ and assisted on the casting of another Dutch film, ‘Bride Flight’.
So, knowing all this about him, I made sure I was prepared. After researching and learning the scripts assigned to us for the day, I made sure I was early and equipped to take many notes, ready for learning anything!
In the class, we were asked to sit in front of camera and read the scenes. Wooldridge focused on teaching us about thought and our eyes. He taught us about where to place our eyes to show thought and that something is going on. Taking in this and also what I read about Stanislavski, and what he said about what should be going on in your head, I found myself at ease in front of the camera. Stanislavski said, as long as you are thinking about what you are saying, thinking thoughts the character would be thinking - not about your lines or if you are doing it right - the audience will read that. The audience reads what is going on in your eyes and I totally believe that.
I got some incredible feedback from Wooldridge and the rest of the class and learnt a lot through observing as well as doing. It was an incredible day with an incredible teacher. I think I will definitely be looking into doing a few more of these classes.
On the 7th of March, I was very fortunate to attend a free writer’s workshop in Bristol. It was held by Michael Domeyko Rowland, author of Absolute Happiness, and he enlightened me on how to write a story - in particular, screenplays.
After talking about structure, character, chosen audiences, purpose, Rowland started talking about our consciousness. He stated that we all have four levels; our unconscious, conscious, subconscious and then the super-conscious.
The amazing thing that he said was that we all have various subconscious personalities within us. These materialise into the people that we meet and also the characters in our dreams. He said that when writing a story, the cameo roles are always forms of the protagonists different subconscious personalities as well as the antagonist is also physical representation of the ‘evil’ within the protagonist. I found this incredibly intriguing. It made a lot more sense to me now. I have always struggled to write my cameo characters, but thinking this way, I feel like pieces have fallen into place.
Another enlightening theory Rowland spoke of, was the super-conscious. Rowland said that by transporting ourselves into the superconsciousness, we will find that stories come to us much more fluidly, escaping from writer’s block. This theory I believe in wholeheartedly. Every time I try to write something, nothing comes. But when I am meditating or not trying to think of something, great ideas appear. Think I am going to try and dig myself a little deeper into this theory and see what happens.
In the end, I cast Ifan Rhys Herridge in the part of Len to play opposite me as Bet. Herridge is a brilliant actor. He has such a presence on camera, and on stage. He possesses an intensity that I found was crucial for this character to show a true contrast between Len and Bet and to emphasise the shifts in status throughout the scene.
Unfortunately, due to lack of time and resources, the script was cut but hopefully we will be able to shoot again. We shortened the film but still keeping with the story so that nothing was actually lost.
For this shoot, we had to think on our feet, which, of course, was great experience. I loved the whole process. From completing the final draft, I found a location, cast Herridge and Anna-Maria storyboarded.
We had the great opportunity to actually workshop and rehearse the script as well, which is quite rare in this industry. That really helped me dive into Bet’s character and her relationship with Len. It helped me explore how she would react to him, and what she wanted from him. I really found a connection and empathy for her, and where she was in her life, and what she had experienced to be the way she is.
I love this world so much. Acting and filmmaking really lifts me up. Now, to edit the footage and add it to my showreel. I will, of course, upload it once it’s done.