There is something very exciting about the current climate for actors. It has become almost a given that we would actively create and produce our own work. There is something very fortifying in the attempt: each time you try and fail, you grow. Obviously it isn't easy - but nothing worthwhile is. As I write, my friend busies herself preparing for a children's theatre production that she and some fellow Lithuanian actors are creating. It's certainly niche, but she's working to her strengths and, more importantly, doing the kind of work she enjoys. It takes work. It isn't easy. How much better to be actively working than waiting by the phone.
There are organisations and funding bodies that can help. Some actors are better suited to the producing game, but in groups you can play on each others strengths. Obtaining a grant is competitive but there are many success stories. I know some people are wary of sourcing funding in case it puts limits on their creative freedom. However, I recently went to a theatre production supported by Lottery funding, Arts Council funding and funding from a group called "No Strings Attached" and they certainly didn't strike me as hampered in any way.
Of course, an alternative is crowdfunding. It's not fool-proof but I can say from personal experience that it can be both a great way to raise funds and also create interest in your work. But again, unless you can manage being funded simply by friends and family, this takes work and time. Vanessa is a fantastic example of an avid tweeter. Her project was ultimately funded and crewed by Twitter connections. The power of Twitter is not to be sniffed at.
And let's not forget we're in the digital age! Filming projects, and promoting them, is now at our fingertips. You can create a youtube channel. Making "something" is very possible and affordable. Clearly it's important to keep check on quality and be aware that filming with an iPhone has its limitations, but it is possible to produce creatively. It's really exciting to see what people have been able to do, sometimes with no equipment and sometimes in collaboration with more technical friends. Collaboration and connection can open up unimagined possibilities.
Which brings me on to networking - a frightening concept to many actors.
Networking really just boils down to being human and talking to other humans. If you're working on a job, it's only natural to talk to the other people working on it, for example. It's a great idea to have a nice-looking business card to hand. Connect on social media with other actors and filmmakers who have the same passion as you. Attending Q&A's or workshops is a great way to meet other proactive actors, directors, casting directors, producers. Get out there. Get talking.
Pro-activity is also about growing as an actor through workshops and courses. There are so many available to develop all kinds of latent talents. I've been on a number of clown and le jeu workshops, and whilst I am not creating work directly related to it, the tools I have gained feed my performances and writing. There really are endless ways to learn and develop and engage.
By no means do I have any of this sorted, but it's exciting to see others' successes, inspiring my own persistence. My love of writing has grown from a desire to be involved in projects that have a message of hope and are meaningful to me. Whilst I don't know where this will lead, the process is an end in itself.
There are no guarantees of success in anything you undertake, but be careful how you define it. Surely success is being involved in projects that you love and work
that excites you: that is no more guaranteed from a mansion in the Hollywood hills than above a pub in east London.
Catherine is represented by Crescent