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How To Be Successful A Successful Actor: Become A Triple Threat

06/08/2014 14:10 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 10:59 BST

Acting is a hard business. Don't get me wrong, doing the actual job isn't hard, it is a brilliant career, but the industry is a tough one and many actors remain out of work and in poverty. That is why I wrote my book, How To Be a Successful Actor: Becoming an Actorpreneur. It is possible to have a good career, get your name out there and tell the stories that you want: you just have to become one of the new triple threats.

Back in the day a triple threat was someone who could sing, dance and act. These skills will still help your career but not as much as being a new triple threat, and that is someone who acts, writes and directs. I have written a lot about this in my book and included tips and advice as I am one of the new triple threats myself and I love the freedom it gives my career. Why wait for someone else to hire you when you can write the stories you want? I have interviewed two of the most promising new triple threats in the UK today, Vanessa Bailey, a wonderful actress who's film Three Days is going to be a corker, and Jason Croot who I have worked with many times. He is an outstandingly talented actor, writer and director. His IMDB speaks volumes about his amazing talent and I really cannot wait to see Le Fear, Le Sequel on the big screen and not just because I am in it. Read on and learn....

Vanessa Bailey

Tell us about your films

This is my first public foray into writing and my first stab at pulling together a short film. It's not my film at all - it's much more down to the talent of the other people involved that it's as good as it is. The story concept was my idea, but the final script has been co-written by myself and Richard Perryman. It's our script, not mine. In fact the whole film is very collaboprative - a lot of the comedy and the details in the dialogued teasers are from our director Darren and our DOP Huw. They took it by the scruff of the neck and stamped their personality on it. I love that.

So, Richard and I wrote it and I got the team together in partnership with our Executive

Producer Suzie. Suzie is responsible for encouraging me to make the film and has been part of the film from the very first moment the story popped into my head. But Gareth Gatrell our stills and behind-the-scenes guy found our Director for us! He recommended Darren after seeing the script and said he'd be perfect. He was right. One of the film's strongest elements is the chemistry between the team. We're like family when we work together.

You produce, write and act. What do you think of the new triple threats? Is it possible to just do one thing now?

Again, I feel very much under-qualified to comment as this is my first film and it's not even finished yet! Acting is my first love - I come alive when I'm acting. It's in my blood, I simply can't imagine not doing it. I think my stories stem from the same emotional heartbeat. The production side - well, that's pretty chaotic. Just ask any of the other Three Days team!

As far as being a triple threat - if this is the only story I ever tell that will be fine. I'd rather tell one well than a hundred badly. But I think as an actor it's important to seek out opportunities and if you can't find them then create them. This may well mean stepping outside of your perceived skillset and trying something new. This part was never going to come to me. I had to bring Sophie to life. No one else was writing her. And if they had I certainly wouldn't have got to play her!

But know your limitations - surround yourself with people who are far more talented than you - people who have skills you don't have. Use them, let them work their magic. Watch and learn from them. Having someone with amazing gifts bring them to your film is an incredible thing.

What kind of stories do you like telling?

The ones that gnaw at my heart. If they don't stop me sleeping at night until they're told then they're not worth bothering with.

What made you get into the film industry?

It started with acting. I'm obsessed with acting. Completely obsessed. I have no training and was told I'd never make it. But it was chewing away at me and wouldn't go away. So I just had to make it happen. The day I was directed by Sean Durkin on the set of Southcliffe in a dialogued scene with three named TV actors (one of whom I'd had a crush on as a teenager!) was a real moment of personal triumph. And now it's the same with the film process generally. It beguiles me - it's like a lover. It makes my heart skip a beat. If I'm not on set orfiddling with a script I spend my time pining to be with it again.

What do you think of the British Film industry?

Jury's out ;) I need more time to make friends with it. I would love to see cinema rejuvenated and less films with unnecessarily massive budgets when there are filmmakers trying to get amazing projects off the ground with absolutely no funding. It's hard. There's a lot of untapped talent out there. And not just in the younger age bracket. Think beyond that - there are some of us who only find our feet after we've paddled around in the wrong puddle for a while.

Do you think it is more of a democracy now?

No, probably not.

How do people make a living in the industry?

People make a living?! I have absolutely no idea. As an actor I earn my money doing commercials and fairly undemanding stuff. The good stuff, the stuff that grows me. That all costs money - it never pays. This is a contentious issue for many very, very good reasons. Personally, I'd rather work unpaid on one fabulous project which grows me as an actor and brings joy than work for £20 a day on some awful film that means nothing and doesn't develop me in any way. But then I do need the commercials to pay the bills!

How do people make it in the industry?

It depends how you define "make it". We all know there are lots of people out there working regularly and you just throw your hands up and say "Why?!"

If you want to keep going, to survive, to be able to continue to chase your dream it has to come from restless passion. The need to create, the need to be with other people who create. To produce work of integrity it can't be for the pursuit of fame (hideous) or the love of money (fat chance). And it's too painful a process for it to be something you could actually walk away from. If you feel you can walk away from the film industry I would recommend you do. You have to be addicted to it. Or at least, that's how it seems to me.

Favourite film

Before Sunrise

Favourite actors/directors

Tilda Swinton. Anthony Perkins (huge crush since seeing Psycho). Kate Winslet. Emma Thompson.

I'm rubbish with directors - I'll be like "Oh I remember - I REALLY like them" later on!

What and who inspires you?

People who are unselfish to work with. People who draw you in and draw you out and help you produce your best work. People who laugh and cry and are honest. People with passion.

I absolutely love the Three Days team because I see those qualities in all the people involved. I love that our director Darren stepped out of his comfort zone to direct his first romantic film. He does it brilliantly. I love that Richard was so open to co-writing with me. Taking risks coupled with passion - now that's a journey waiting to happen!

What's next?

Fundraising to be able to complete the Three Days shoot. We have an ongoing crowdfund on our website. This is really key! Then the shoot, then festival entry.

And then, well - there's more story developing in my head, but I think I need to get the short finished first! I certainly hope it won't be the last time we all work together. Let's just put it like that.

And probably a commercial.

Jason Croot

Tell us about your films.

I have made 5 feature films, all improvised, only one has been released: Le Fear, a horror comedy film which I made a sequel to named Le Fear 2: Le Sequel. This film has become my main focus because I believe it is my strongest film yet, It has a lot going for it comedy, horror, sci- fi, spoof and a very good cast. My other 3 films are all joint productions and I will tackle then one at a time then hopefully move on to my new stuff.

You direct, write and act. What do you think of the new triple threats? Is it possible to just do one thing now?

There are many talented people out there. A lot of undiscovered actors, but lets face it; as an actor having small parts on TV and feature films or lead roles on low budget feature films won't make you an household name, only constant big roles in big budgets will do that, the same is said with writing and directing but it's a long journey. As long as you are creating something you never know.

I believe where people fail is by not continuing to create. If you are a good actor then find some work even if it's not a lead role in Hollywood, then you are still doing, with writing you can always do this generally with solitude and directing you can always create stuff whilst waiting for your next gig. If you believe you've got talent use, it don't waste it. In a nutshell: some well known actors can carve out a career in one field and the same is said with writing and directing. Some do all plus more like Vincent Gallo, a very talented dude and there are many more like him really doing it such as Larry David and hats off to the elite 1% for the 99% the rest of us we must keep on batting and creating in the hope that one day it all clicks. If it doesn't, so what? What would you prefer to do? Work in an office or act, write and direct? You know where I'll be!

What kind of stories do you like telling?

I'm not really a great screen writer but believe my strengths lay in creating plots and scenes without words since all my films are improvised but that's not the only reason I love improv, I don't believe you can create the same magic from the script that you can from improvisation, I like to tell stories about filmmaking and the film industry like my films Le Fear 1,2 and Roberto. I know this is not the best genre to get known but I love doing it and some people like it so it's not a lost cause

What made you get into the film industry?

My love of acting I guess, filmmaking came many years afterwards

What do you think of the British Film industry?

There is some very talented folk out there but very few can make a good living in Britain. It's really tough but it's not the toughest place in the world and there are a lot of people supporting others and that's really cool. Why not? We are all trying to climb that mountain but won't get there alone, I don't want to get into politics but no government will really spend money in the film industry nor will they support young people trying to break into it, so it is down to people with experience to give these new guys support and guidance

Do you think it is more of a democracy now?

I believe in the past 15 years there are many more actors, writers and directors out there and everyone can make a career out of what they are doing but this won't happen over night and there is no guarantee it will happen at all, but I believe there is less snobbery now and with the indie films becoming evermore closer to the big budget ones filmmakers can make a greater impact i.e getting there films on the same platforms, for example: Netflix, Amazon and iTunes etc. So yes, I would say it is much more democratic these days.

How do people make a living in the industry?

In England as an actor, unless you're a regular on a soap, you may struggle but it's possible generally people have daytime jobs and go to castings and hopefully land a few roles. The casting directors I meet are all really nice folk and want you to do well but it is difficult. You have to zone in on yourself and spend 5 hours or more a day 365 days trying to find work and have a agent batting for you as well.

How to people make it in the industry?

A lot of hard work, time, effort and energy. There are still no guarantees, but I guess it's an individuals take on making it that can be anything, if you'd have asked me 10 years ago that I'd have acted and directed in over 100 productions I'd have said from were I was with one acting diploma and one VHS copy of a short film and not knowing anyone in London at the time: I've made it, but the next 10 years have to be greater so I guess, keep pushing ,never give in and keep smiling through thick and thin. Most importantly, respect rejection. the minute you make it your enemy is the minute you fail.

Favourite film

Too many to list but if I was to pick one it would be the classic French Film within a film Day For Night

Favourite actors/directors

I have a few but really rate Larry Charles and Jim Jarmusch

What and who inspires you?

Watching a great film inspires me. alongside stories I read of actors who struggled like De Niro, Pacino and Nicholson. Three of the greatest film actors all really battled to get there.

What's next?

I've been under the weather for a while but hopefully on the mend now, so on the filmmaking sides of things, once my films are out of post production I have 3 more films I want to make: Le Fear 3 is one and the other 2 are top secret for now, I'm always open to direct other peoples films too, on the acting front I have 3 films by Lorenzo Raveggi filming on location in Italy, I'm looking forward to acting in and I have a few other films in the pipeline but nothing set in stone. Once again, I'm always open to offers so I'll keep batting away and hopefully create some good cinema this year.

What do you think?

How To Be a Successful Actor: Becoming an Actorpreneur is out now.