Neil completed a diploma in acting at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in 2009. Prior to his diploma he studied media studies at the University of Sussex in 2005.
I have been interested in theatre and acting since my school days and attended drama summer schools during the holidays. After graduating from the University of Sussex I ran my own theatre company with friends for three years. We staged a number of productions including several at the Brighton Fringe Festival. This experience of having to look after all areas of the production was really useful but it also reinforced my sense that what I really wanted to do was act. So that’s when I took the plunge and did a one-year postgraduate diploma in acting at Mountview.
I found drama school a positive experience and I feel the most useful bits for me were the technical work on developing physical and vocal skills, plus the experience of acting on camera, which was new to me. It’s important to remember though that the industry changes really quickly, so drama schools won’t always have their finger on the pulse of the latest developments. For example, since I’ve graduated I’ve found having a showreel to be something that’s really important - agents and casting directors will want to see one - but its importance wasn’t really stressed at drama school. A particular advantage of going to an accredited drama school is that you can get into the casting directory Spotlight straight away; this really is a must for finding work as so many casting directors won’t really consider actors who aren’t in it.
I was fortunate enough to secure an agent from the showcase at the end of the course. Having an agent is definitely better than not having one, but it’s not the be all and end all. You still need to be proactive and continue to make contacts, not just sit back and wait for the auditions and job offers to roll in.
The best thing about acting is the chance to be able to do something I enjoy. The cliché is that there are thousands of hopefuls every year trying to make it, and this is true to a certain extent. However, it can also be a surprisingly small world, and you’ll see many of the same faces at auditions you attend, and most people you run into will know someone you know or have worked with. People are generally pretty supportive too, considering you’re competing with one another for work, and this sense of community is another aspect I enjoy. The worst bit is the financial element because, to begin with, the work is generally not well paid, especially with theatre work where my focus is. With fringe productions you are frequently working on a profit-share basis, which in reality often means working for free.
To date, I have appeared in a range of theatre productions, as well as short films and commercials. I don’t regret pursuing acting at all and am looking forward to developing my career and taking it to the next level.
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