It is the holy grail for supporting artistes, who speak of it in hushed admiring tones, almost self conscious of their kudos for having been among the chosen ones. The more experienced members refer to the hey days (CHECK) when this was in fact the only one, when an Equity Card was a prerequisite and the latter credential more exclusive and hard to attain. Extras would clamor for membership. This at least has not changed. Today after three or four attempts I too have been enrolled onto the books of Ray Knight Casting. And I feel privileged as well as encouraged.
All the more so because John, who photographed and interviewed me, was charmingly admiring of my appearance and especially my hair. I would be suitable for period pieces (as I had already discovered) and he suggested I have a fashion shoot to present myself as a well-to-do, successful retired gentleman, to be seen on a yacht, for example. I like his style and will present him with the bill for said yacht asap.
PTL in the circles that I mix is an abbreviation for ‘praise the Lord’, being an expression of wonder and gratitude to God, be it for who he is or what he has done. It is therefore my very appropriate reaction to the two days of filming on a particular film this week. And it was encouraging to see pink road signs bearing these three letters as I approached and left the set on both mornings.
So, what was so good?
I have to retrace my steps to the fitting which took place three weeks earlier and for which I had already been paid: always a good sign. Being set in the 1800’s, I was given a rather splendid and extravant costume, in which I felt really quite dapper. I met a fellow artiste whom I had got to know on my first big job and made the acquaintance of a kind gentleman who lived close to me in Chiswick. We shared a coffee and some deep conversation in Nero afterwards. (Nero serves the best cappuccino to my taste.)
Now on set, I notice the catering company is none other than Goblins Catering. They were superb on another production a couple of months earlier and so for breakfast I duly went for the bespoke omelette.
Reacquainted with my costume, I presented myself or rather my hair to hair and make up. I had undergone significant hair surgery a couple of months ago and hoped that it was now long enough. Sure enough, the stylist managed to heighten and curl my hair, so I hid my Rod Stewart wig.
Unlike many other shoots I had experienced, we spent most of the time on set rather than in the crowd holding area. This was the remarkable mock Gothic chapel within Charterhouse, a private school, responsible for members of Genesis. I felt at home here.
One reason for the time spent there was down to an elderly actor who just could not remember his lines. We did sympathise with him as he had to run along the aisle before announcing ‘My Lords, I have a…’ at which point his dramatic pause turned into ‘Cut! First positions, please.’
The writer/director was an unassuming, elderly gentleman with whom I had a brief chat during the lunch break about the filming. None of the locations was to be in the city in which the original story took place, namely Manchester.
Shots involved the ubiquitous mimed murmerings, shuffling, re-setting and friendly banter in the hallowed surround of our chamber of power.
All in all, a wonderful two days.
PTL for PTL!
My white suit and Panama hat akimbo, my hair sprayed into place and my shades on in the hope if not anticipation of a couple of hours of sunshine, I was ready for my filming today. This was something I had been selected to do 4 months previously, but for one reason or another my contribution had been postponed 2 or 3 times. The weather, a 6 days job I had that clashed and my co-star’s one month old baby had all conspired to delay this ground breaking piece of cinematography. I of course refer to the film Oyster, written and directed by Ryan Hall of Bad Rum Productions.
Five of us converged on a temple in India (more accurately recognised as Alperton).
Alas, no green room or crowd holding area was available, nor even a cafe in which to change into my pristine white suit. This is after walking at least 10 minutes. How do they survive here without coffee houses? Anyway, we found a sandwich bar. I swapped the off white old joffers jacket I was wearing for my white suit jacket and left my pale slim chinos on in place of said white suit trousers and promptly spilt my cappuccino over them. By this time I had been introduced to Vikram who was to play a young tour guide I meet as a retired film producer in India. Ryan the director described the shots he wanted and so off we all went with cameraman and assistant to a nearby temple. Action!
Further detail I cannot share, but the temple officials were becoming agitated by our activity. We were finished within 90 minutes. And then it started to rain.
So, look out for the film Oyster by Bad Rum Productions, which will be released on line within 4-6 weeks, and then entered in a number of competitions.
See you in Cannes.
Being an S.A. is a lesson in humility. You can be featured one day and barely see any action the next. There’s a part of me that wants to be in front of the camera or at least within shot. And I admit this is partly vanity. But then again if I get up early and turn up on time, it seems pointless if I am hanging around the whole day off set. But for the lovely people I meet, this would now be soul destroying.
But I am ashamed to confess that the lure of the lens is intoxicating. The thought that my family and friends and anyone who knows me will be watching a film or TV series one-day (and let’s not forget that I will have given them due notice by any means possible) and then see me. Was that Philip? Yes, I think it was. And there you have it…the trapping of fame. And potentially captured digitally for future generations. Did you know your great, great uncle was a supporting artiste? He was in such and such. You can see him on Netflix.
I am not sure when to disclose what I am working on. For social media, the rule is simple – don’t mention it. But is this blog social media? Certainly not at the moment, as it is not released.
Below is text from the very film series I am working on:
‘Please remember you must not mention the name or share any of other details of any production in public or online, including but not limited to IMDB, Facebook and Twitter. This also extends to not taking or sharing any photos while on set.’
And yet, what films are being shot and who the actors are is all in the public domain. So, why cannot a humble supporting artiste mention what he is up to? Does he really have to wait until the general release?
Today I learned that I have been selected to be a member of the Core Team for Crown Series 2 shoots for the remainder of the filming, some three months. It had been my ambition since I started this SA work to be involved in The Crown, and so I am absolutely delighted. Not wanting to get too much ahead of myself, but I hope that this will not exclude me from future series. But as I have very little in the way of confirmed work right now, this is great news.
Today, I was a spook (ie an MI6 spy) in a flashback to 1936, where two of us are sitting in an immaculate black 1930s Rover Mk12 near St James Park as we watch some nefarious activity.
Several of us in this scene were escorted from base camp (a plush hotel) to the food trailer near St James Park for lunch, having been adorned with plastic bibs over our elegant 1930s garb. I understand just a little of the life of a celebrity as passers by gaped at us. One brave soul asked what we were filming. Quick to recall protocol, I replied that this was classified information, and that if I told her I would have to shoot her.
Sadly, I have been released from The Favourite (see blog of 22-Feb-17), owing to unavailability of costume for my size. Was I too tall, too short, too fat or too thin? Too slim, I imagine. Am a little disappointed, but wondering what else will take its place…
I had to turn down another feature file with code name BIG EARS a few days ago which promised a rather grueling schedule, and so I asked if that was still available…
I headed straight from Mad Dogs to a hotel in Holland Park for another interview/audition, this time for IMP Model Management. Thinking I was surely going to be suitable for modelling knitted jumpers (just the way Roger Moore started), or at the very least walking sticks or wheel chairs, they put me down as ‘talents’ not ‘model’. So, I will hopefully be given opportunities in TV commercials. Others there were talking about modelling jobs in New York and Tokyo.
I would be very happy with TV commercials, and so once back home I edited a couple of recent videos of my work and submitted them as requested. One was the result of a recent day’s training in TV Presenting at Pinewood Studios, and the other some self videos I submitted to the Director of the online feature film Hello Au Revoir (my credit can be found on the IMDb website).
Today I attended an interview/audition to join the books of Mad Dogs Casting. I have lived in Ealing since 1976 and never visited Ealing Studios – the home of Mad Dogs Casting London.
I took a selection of clothes, but they liked the suit I was wearing (which has brought me some good moments in other filming scenarios, and which started its life as my son Matthew’s End of Year Ball outfit). The head of casting thought I was suited (quite literally) for roles as a politician. No comedy there, I thought. No intentional comedy at any rate. And she thought I was not being serious enough when she asked her photographer for more leg and I naturally rolled up my trousers.
I introduced myself to Hattie, through whom via a fellow supporting artiste I had achieved this interview/audition. She agreed that I look like Nigel Havers and Ken Barlow and said she would get me some great work. However in the case of the latter, I would need to relocate to Manchester.