HOW TO CAST

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Your script is written and edited to perfection. Now you need to find some talented actors to cast in your low-budget film or theatre production. Where should you start? I ask a casting director and two filmmakers for their advice… 


Beginning your search
“Free talent websites such as Starnow and Casting Call Pro are essential for finding that much-needed talent to make your film more real,” says filmmaker Rob McLellan, who made the short film RAHAB starring David Oyelowo after winning The Pitch in 2010, and is now developing it as a feature. “You often find actors who are willing to work on a collaborator basis so they can beef up their showreel. The downside is there are no qualifications or references needed for these sites. Anyone could turn up at your door, so safety should be a consideration.”

“Going to lots of theatre and seeing independent films is helpful,” says director and screenwriter Aimee Powell. “Especially as in most theatres the cast are in the bar afterwards.” Another great place to spot up-and-coming actors is in third-year drama school shows. “Guildhall, RADA, Central and LAMDA are really good,” says Aimee. And tickets are generally under a tenner so won’t break the bank.

Tracking talent
Read the trade press to find out who is on the cusp of getting big. “Screen International has a feature called ‘stars of tomorrow’ – they have a knack for identifying actors who are very good but not as recognised as they will be shortly,” says Aimee, who also recommends following the nominees for the Ian Charleson Awards, a prize for actors below 30 who have delivered an outstanding stage performance.



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HOW TO MAKE MONEY BLOGGING

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The digital revolution has made publishers of us all and yet one big fat question lingers – how can you make a profit online? Sian Meades of lifestyle website Domestic Sluttery and Duncan Hammond of Guardian Select hosted an IdeasTap Spa event addressing just this. Here's what they had to say…


Am I a sell out?
There are all sorts of reasons why people blog. For many it is a purely non-profit pursuit, done to boost exposure for a project, practice writing skills or share expertise in a niche interest with likeminded online chums. Sian Meades’s intention was always for her lifestyle website Domestic Sluttery to be a commercial venture and within six of months launching, it was. However, she warns, “It’s a massive leap from having a blog to turning that into a career.”

First of all, Sian believes, you need to get over the idea that making money blogging automatically equates to selling out. “The term ‘sell out’ is massively overused by people who have sour grapes about other people being successful,” she argues. “If you think you’re a sell out and that there’s no value in what you’re doing, then you probably are.” But, she adds: “You are not a sell out if you can pay your rent and live, if you are creating something you’re proud of and like the brands you’re working with.”

Build a community 
It’s not enough to produce lively, original and well-crafted content. To make your blog an attractive proposition for advertisers, you also need a community of potential consumers. Numbers matter but so too does engagement. “Be open, searchable and talk to people,” Sian advises. “Treat the internet like a conversation.”  Think about where your fans are. Twitter? Facebook? Both? “Know the difference between the two and don’t upload the same stuff,” says Sian. “Facebook is primarily image-based, relies on personal sharing and allows for long threads of community discussion that everyone can get involved in. It’s very obvious when you just are posting tweets to Facebook.”



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EMILY GRAHAM ON COMMISSIONING PHOTOGRAPHY FOR WATERAID

Monday, 20 August 2012

WaterAid is an NGO working to improve access to clean water and sanitation. Photography plays an instrumental role in achieving this. Picture Editor Emily Graham shares advice for photographers keen to use their talent for social good… 


How does WaterAid work with photographers? 
We use photography for a wide variety of purposes, from fundraising to advocacy, awareness raising and media work. At the moment we are running a fundraising campaign called The Big Dig. I commissioned a photographer called Kate Holt to interview and photograph people in rural Malawi. We chose her because she had a journalistic approach. She produces strong images that engage audiences but in a natural way. We used these images throughout the organisation for fundraising campaigns and since then we’ve spent a week in Malawi training our partner staff in using simple image capturing technologies so we can show a story of change through a blog where the initial professional images are displayed with images gathered by staff.

What’s the best way for a photographer who wants to work for WaterAid to get in touch with you?
Send an email with an introduction to yourself and your main interests as a photographer, and a link to your website. Don’t send attachments because they crash my inbox! Let us know your travel plans. If there’s a photographer planning a visit to one of our country programmes, we may be able to commission them for a few days. The most important thing is that you have strong personal work on [your website] as well as commissioned work. Get in touch if you’re working on an issue relevant to our work and maybe we can partner up. Come to us with a story idea or visual approach – we’re always looking for new and original ways to communicate the issues that we work with.



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JAMES GERRARD-JONES ON COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Working in advertising photography can be an excellent way to financially sustain your documentary or fine art practice. James Gerrard-Jones, of commercial photography agency Wyatt-Clarke & Jones, explains why… 


What are the benefits of joining an agency?
Promotion can be time-consuming. Being signed to an agency will ensure your work is reaching the right people so you can concentrate on your practice, leaving the promotion to someone else. A decent agency will be keen to support your ambitions as an artist  – that's the biggest kick for us at Wyatt-Clarke & Jones. We work with photographers from all different backgrounds – reportage, fine art, fashion – and the commissions we find for them help fund personal work that might otherwise never get made. Projects such as Adam Hinton's book Shibuya, published with This is Real Art, or the recent work for which Nadège Mériau received a Discovery Award nomination at the Rencontres d’Arles.

What does an advertising commissioner want from a photographer? 
We're surrounded by images everywhere we look so commissioners are looking for photographers with a distinct visual identity – something that's going to engage the viewer and communicate with them successfully. As well as unique talent, commissioners are looking for reliability and someone who understands the industry.



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GET CREATIVE AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Friday, 3 August 2012

Not only does the British Library contain every publication ever produced in the UK and Ireland, it also houses many intriguing items and handy business resources. Frances Taylor, the British Library’s Marketing Manager for the Creative Industries, tells me more about what the library has to offer creatives…


The British Library is traditionally associated with academic research. How can creative practitioners use the library for their work?
We have amazing collections of things lots of people don’t know we have: a copy of every magazine in the UK, everything from Vogue to zines, a huge sound archive, prints, drawings, photographs and knitting patterns. There’s printed content, video and sound recordings creative practitioners could use for both research and inspiration. One of the things that make the library unique in comparison with other museums and galleries is our Business and IP Centre, which is a small business centre for anyone who has an idea and needs help commercialising it. Around a quarter of the users are from the creative industries. [You] can get help with marketing, business planning, copyright and intellectual property. It’s very about meeting people, getting face-to-face support and networking with your peers.

What are the most unusual items you have in the collection?
We’re doing an event in September to show off our artists’ books collection and although I haven’t seen it yet, I think we have an artist’s book made out of sardine tins! We also have some Victorian hair jewellry.



Visit the British Library website for more information about creative research and forthcoming events.


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