Jovana Miletic continues her column on life in London as an Australian performer…
I was minding my friend’s flat for two months while he was away in Ireland rehearsing a play for the Edinburgh Festival last year. His flat is in the perfect location for a new arrival to London as it is in the heart of the city situated just above Tottenham Court Rd station. It’s in the same building complex as the Dominion Theatre which has a huge bronze statue of Freddie Mercury above it, an interesting spectacle to pass every day. I’d give it a silent ‘hello’ every morning.
One of the first things I did once I landed and moved into the flat was to do research into all the relevant theatrical sites in London. One in particular is currently used by all London actors and it is arguable the most important: Spotlight.
Spotlight is like Showcast in Australia – a database for industry professionals. I won’t go into too much detail (as you can read all about the history in your own time on their website) but to summarise, the company has been running since 1927. It has casting suites that are rented out for TV/ Film/ theatre productions conveniently located in Leicester Square in Lisle St. For Annual membership it will cost you £214 with an additional £35 to add your showreel. You have to have had drama school training or worked professionally to be able to join.
If you do not have an agent Spotlight does have listings from those casting professionals who don’t mind showing their castings to everyone. Which accounts for about 10% of all briefs posted on the site. Something is better than nothing right?
To add further spice to your life it even has a drama school performance calendar.
Spotlight also makes a fantastic directory called ‘Contacts’, much like Encore in Australia. Joining Spotlight and getting your hands on this book is a must do first thing you arrive. You can find agent listings, producers, theatre companies and even tips on how to write to these industry professionals. It’s just great! And heavy!
Some of my favourite actors are/were with Spotlight; Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Connery, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Irons and… well, here’s a little story from a recent Spotlight experience.
I get to the front entrance of Spotlight, which is just off Lisle St. I reach for the glass door and pull it open for the people on the other side. That’s when it happens… A man slightly shorter than my 1.78cm steps out pulling a small travel bag behind him. He looks up at me and smiles in response to mine; a charming sort of sheepish smile.
I grin wider and say ‘Hello’; my tone suggesting heightened curiosity with a trace of unplanned sexual innuendo. His face lights up and he responds in kind. As he and his entourage walk on I move closer to the door and turn to look at him again. To my surprise and delight he stops to look back at me, his face still carrying a smile and something more… intrigue. We hold our gaze for a moment longer then go our separate ways. I climb the two flights of stairs to the reception area and ask
‘Was that…who just left?’ The receptionist responds with ‘ yes that was Mr Fiennes.’ It was Ralph Fiennes. He was there casting for a project of his own….
To top things off The Prince Charles Cinema is right next to Spotlight’s headquarters. £10 annual membership gives you films for just £6 per session! This is great considering that just around the corner the Odeon charges you 15 pounds for a ticket.
So if you are heading to London as an actor, make sure Spotlight is your first stop!
Till next time, stay flirty Australia!