Be ready, when it happens it will happen quickly

It seems like there are people in this world that always benefit from good fortune, things always seem to work out for them. Others bemoan their fate, wishing they had what everyone else seemed to have.

It is true that luck shines on some better than others but when it comes to acting and my acting career, I refuse to believe it is luck alone.

It is a combination of timing, preparation, mental attitude and luck that can make a success out of you in the acting world.

I don’t know if it’s true or not that we only get one true shot at massive success in life, whether it is or not I am ready and I will always be ready. I have put in years to my training as an actor, I have spent countless hours networking and working on various skills. I have talked to the right people and I have talked to the wrong ones. All in the belief that when my moment came, that I would be ready for it. Luck doesn’t mean shit if you can’t follow through.

I feel it in the air lately, that this may be my time, I can feel it in my bones.

Time will tell if I am right but I know one thing for certain: if that opportunity comes a knocking, I won’t be closing the door.

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

So begins my 28th year…

Today is my birthday.

**cue celebrations!!**

Seriously though. I must be honest and say that I do love surprises but the modest side of me always takes over and I hate for anyone to go to a lot of trouble just because it is the anniversary of my birth. When it comes to the working side of “Tom”, you will see a confident and skillful man but behind closed doors, a very different man altogether. A man who is happy to spend his birthday by the side of those he loves.

Each year, I do a sort of “self diagnosis” on my life. Where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m going.

I’ve spoken to many people who actually get frightened at the thought of growing older. My outlook is simple:

What have I achieved in the last twelve months?

Have I moved towards my ultimate goals in life?

Am I happy?

If I can answer the first question well and say Yes to the next two, then I will always be a happy man on my birthday.

As it happens, I can answer the questions as follows:

(1) What have I achieved in the last twelve months?

I have achieved a lot despite suffering from the after effects of bacterial meningitis. I moved from full time work to full time coaching. I am the co-director of a company with my fiancee that is looking very promising and we haven’t even seen our first show yet. I am the co-director of a non-industry company with my friend and mentor, Mark Westbrook. A company that could yield us great returns. I have written a lot this past year and my writing is slowly starting to get attention. Plays, screenplays and shorts: my brain is not slowing down. I have blogged successfully every day for the last year or so, not an easy task by anyone’s standards.

(2)Have I moved towards my ultimate goals in life?

Yes, I have. There is no doubt of it. I left home to try and build a strong and successful life and I am definitely on the way to that.

(3) Am I happy?

Yes, I am happy. Depression struck me down after the meningitis and it still hits me some days but I am happy. I am doing what I love, I am surrounded by people that I love and I am happy.

 

When I wake every morning on my birthday, I do this little diagnostic. 

This year, I have done well.

Happy birthday to you if it is also your birthday! Celebrate the day in style!

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

 

Putting my money where my mouth is

I am a harsh critic sometimes when it comes to acting and productions in theatre. I feel like we are being denied something that should be an intrinsic part of any audience experience. I have had words with many people on this topic and I have blogged about it on numerous occasions.

I stand by my thoughts and words because I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I have written a trilogy of plays that are being produced this year and two of them are on this summer. I am starring in one of them. ( a blog for another day, creating your own work).

I want to change things in this industry and I am willing to fight for it. I have been harsh at times, that is true. I now offer my own work open to criticism. You will note thought that whenever I have spoken about acting, I have been constructive. There is no need to bash simply for the sake of bashing.

So!

This June, in the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow: I present to you…Hidden, a play about mental health and the pain of losing those close to us. 22nd, 23rd and 24th of June.

July, in Oran Mor in the West End of Glasgow: I present to you…Sequence, a play about fantasies and the lies that exist in life.

9th and 10th of July. ( Tickets here )

 

I will be blogging about these shows and my beliefs about acting a lot in the coming weeks. I want to change things and I am putting myself at risk to do so. 

Come see the shows, come see me put my money where my mouth is.

At the very least, you’ll have a chance to tell me my work is shit!

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

These are the days that were sent to try us

It’s days like this that really challenge me when it comes to the blog challenge I set myself some 345 odd days ago.The days where I just do not want to write. My brain resists any attempt to open up creative channels, my vocabulary, most days flowing and free, shuts down and I am left staring at the laptop screen, willing myself to write.

And write I do.

Because anything that takes effort is worth it. I use today’s blog and my experience as a metaphor for creativity. It is a commonly held belief that creativity cannot be forced, that you have to wait for the moment to strike and BAM!, poetry and magic seem to just flow out of your brain. These are the days that all creatives love, the days when it seems effortless.

They are not a test of who we are though. The true test comes when we don’t want to do anything, when we feel that any creative aspect of ourselves has disappeared, gone into hiding for the day.

Jack White seems to some it up so perfectly here. He talks about inspiration and the idea of forcing yourself through the block that so many creative people hit.

I feel like I am rambling here today, that my head isn’t quite right on this day. None the less, I have blogged and I am written about something worthwhile.

Watch the video and be inspired to tackle your problems, even on days when there seems no point.

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

Stick to your commitments

A short blog today and straight to the point:

If you make a commitment, in any walk of life, stick it it. 

If you don’t, you are immediately branded as untrustworthy. Unless something physically stops you from making it, stick to your word and see it through.

I have no time for those who flake on their word, especially in the entertainment industry. There are thousands of other people who could do the same task as you, why run the risk of alienating yourself?

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

Building from Rejection

The life of an actor is one filled with rejection. Unless you are an absolute A lister, then chances are you still have to hussle and graft for your next job.

This rejection is the reason why a lot of actor inevitably give up on their dreams. Actors who were so skilled that they could convince the queen they were family, forced to give up and settle for something that there heart isn’t truly in. It’s a sad fact but a fact none the less that it really doesn’t matter how skilled you are. If you don’t get seen, you don’t progress up the industry ladder.

It’s a strange state of affairs, because everyone knows it’s like this but no-one prepares you on how to deal with it. I understand on one level: how do you prepare someone for rejection without destroying some part of them…

On the other hand, it should be spoken about more, hence today’s blog.

How do we build from rejection? (I speak about acting but my thinking could probably be applied to most industries.)

We grow stronger by skewing our mindset slightly. Take away the stigma of “rejection” and instead look at it as “growing”. Because that’s what it really is, when you break it down. You don’t get the agent, you don’t get the part, you don’t get into drama school… Instead of taking a knock to the heart over it (which is also ok, it means you care), look back on everything you have achieved thus far.

You have come far since your beginnings and this “rejection” is not the mountain it seems to be. You are but one step closer to ultimate success.

Think of it. 
Rejection doesn’t need to control our lives. 

We are the only ones in charge of our success.

You can either let it take you over or change how you see it and use it to your advantage.

The choice is yours.

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

Adopting the mindset

It’s all too easy to get dragged under by the regular happenings of every day life. You wake in the morning, with a long list of possibly mundane things to get through. You work through the list methodically, just wishing it was the evening time so you could relax. You work until near exhaustion then rest for a few hours then fall into your bed.

Sound familiar?

The tragedy in life I think is that at one point or another, everyone has dreamt of doing something spectacular. Every single person has at least once in their life, thought about what could have been. Life gets in the way though and routine takes over. Before you know it, so much time has passed that you think it futile to even imagine you could do something different.

You can though.

Really.

Think about it. We are in an age where we are more connected than ever before in history. I guarantee that whatever it is in life that you love, there are others out there that feel the same. And it’s as simple as using Google to find them.

Perhaps an even bigger tragedy is that this fact is known by everyone. They already know that if they wanted to, they could reach out and find kindred spirits. So what is stopping them?

We can never truly know someone I think but fear is the main restriction on someone doing something spectacular with their life.

I have been afraid, I admit that willingly. None amongst us can truly deny that we have ever felt fear. I am at the point in my life though where I welcome this fear almost. For it means that I want to do well and make something absolutely fucking spectacular with myself.

I want to leave a legacy, I want to leave a mark on the world and I want to be remembered. Life does not submit to the will of mere mortals though so only time will tell if I achieve my goals.

Fear though, I welcome that dark menacing fucker. As long as fear is there, floating silently over my shoulder, I will always know that I am on the right track. 

 

Onward to glory.

Tom

Above all else, strive for excellence

To often, people are willing to settle for mediocrity.  They focus on the wrong aspects of skill building and as a result,  create something that is simply “ok”.

Now “ok” is alright at the beginning,  when we are just beginning to learn but more and more I see so called “professionals” producing work that is quite frankly,  sub standard yet they cheer as if they have just created something revolutionary.

Whether this is down to ignorance or wilful choice, I cannot say but the fact remains that no one really  seems to be trying to do something that is a genuine game changer.

I came to an industry that is over saturated with mediocrity. I have pledged my life to this industry and before my life is through,  I am determined to make a mark and leave a legacy.

It is what drives me. To not only succeed but to actual change things. I care little for the repercussions of such a claim. If others scorn me for it, so be it. Such is the price for wanting to be great I think.

Above all, you must strive for excellence. I think it’s better to fail going for that than anything else.

Onward to glory.
Tom

Wise words from Mark Westbrook

Today,  I want you all to read a blog from my coach,  friend and mentor,  Mark Westbrook.

He is the founder of Acting Coach Scotland and head coach there. Here he talks about the two different kind of actors that exist…

“I believe there are two types of acting. What I would like to call Virtuoso Performing and Invisible Acting.

Virtuoso Performing is a type of acting that draws attention to itself. It is self consciously performing, and the audience are aware of and marvel at the virtuosity of the performer. In other words the acting isn’t hiding, we see the performance for what it is and we appreciate the skill required to put on such an act or performance.

When Alan Cumming performed Macbeth, when Kevin Spacey performed Richard III, they are giving virtuoso performances, we marvel at the actor’s performance.

That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable or special, it’s just a particular kind of acting. It particularly suits non-naturalistic styles of performance like Shakespeare, Opera, Pantomime, or any show where the personality of the performer is going to be central to the success of the show.

However, it is this style of acting that most actors believe makes for good acting. It is why some struggle with the transition to acting for camera and why so much theatre is painfully self conscious. It is not suited to naturalism and has created a very self conscious style of performance in our theatres.

This misunderstanding further affects the audience who as a result of the actor’s mistaken belief, also believe that this is what good acting looks like.

The performance is done for the audience, who sit back and marvel at how they are regaled. It requires little interaction, and no investment.

Invisible Acting draws no attention to itself. There is no attempt at having the audience be aware of the skill of the performer. There is no performer. The audience see only a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, behaviour consistently with the truth of the moment and the fiction of the imaginary circumstances.

We marvel at invisible acting when we cannot see the strings, cannot see the performance, we see the actor and fully accept them as the character that they represent. Sometimes we barely even notice them in the show or film because they don’t draw attention to themselves.

This performance is done as if the audience aren’t even there (aside from being audible and visible). We cannot sit back, we are not spoon fed, we have to engage, we have to invest.

I prefer this type of performance, but it isn’t better or worse than the virtuoso, it is just different.

The problem started a long time ago, but exists still – actors think they need to be virtuosos in every role, when sometimes they simply have to disappear.

COACH

Mark Westbrook is the Senior Coach at Acting Coach Scotland in Glasgow, UK.

- See more at: http://actingcoachscotland.co.uk/2014/04/two-types-of-acting/#sthash.IiriECnP.dpu

Taking the gamble

This week I make a move that will hopefully be a good step forward in my acting career. 

I have been building towards this for about two years now and it feels good to be finally doing it.

I shan’t say specifically what it is but suffice it to say, you will hear about it if it goes well.

Nothing else to say today, hope everyone is having a great start to their week!

 

Onward to glory.

Tom