Girl Power!

A very quick post…

The short film that I star in just won IMDb New Filmmakers Award at The Bath Film Festival. Huzzah!  The great team behind Cancer Hair, (pictured below) Gail Hackston, Helga Ernudottir, Isabelle Sieb are giving female film makers a real voice in a male dominated industry. Go GIRLS!

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I’m dreaming of a Swiss Christmas

It’s been a quiet year outside of trips to the US and luckily things started to pick up by October. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t ever get a job again. Prior to the good news I went a bit mad – I discovered that my year-long slog trying to raise funds for my children’s theatre piece Captain Pancake had to be postponed due to lack of funding and now it seemed all doors were (for the moment at least) closed. That plus a lack of paid work and I found myself pacing my apartment with a big beard, dwindling funds and dwindling self-confidence.

So rejoice! I got a job and flew to Zurich to put my bearded self to good use in a series of ads for Swisscom. First up was learning 3 language scripts, as they shoot all ads in French, Swiss-German and Italian (who knew?!) and I found myself in a room with a language coach and my co-star, sporting exquisite facial hair. There was something very familiar about this guy, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

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It turns out that this man ACTUALLY spends his whole life as St. Nicholas and when not being the big man himself, he teaches other men to be the ruddy-faced gent. Ironically this ‘Method Santa’ was from Los Angeles – one of the sunniest places on the planet. I found myself wondering at what point does a Californian sun-kissed man make that decision to embrace Babbo Natale? Do you have a particular long period without work, grow a beard and then have a unfortunate accident with some bleach? Or is it more of a calling, like a festive Moses, where instead of burning bush there was a frozen dinner that spoke to him? “The beard maketh the man!” it whistled, as it defrosted in the microwave. Whatever it was, I stared at him reciting lines in a medley of languages clearly riddled with beard envy.

The work hasn’t stopped there and more things to announce shortly, including the purchase of some new razor blades. I’m going back to a clean look before I get sucked into a beard-off.

Hob Nobs

So after a few weeks under the blue canopy of LA life, meeting various industry people of and eating lots of breakfast tacos (the future by the way), I’m back to the grey skies and wintery embrace of London and it’s pre-Christmas excitements.

This time whilst out in LA I had my headshots done by the excellent David Muller in his East Hollywood studio. He’s the kind of man with a 3 month waiting list, so I felt lucky to snag a last-minute session after a cancelation, so I jumped at the chance to work with him. As you can see, we had an effortless session:

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Another exciting meet-up was with my future agent. Arriving outside of the Wilshire Blvd skyscraper, I gazed up at this intimidating monolith of success and nervously stumbled into reception trying to keep composure. I signed in and a suited lady showed me into the elevator, swiped a magic card and pressed a button. “The button of destiny” I thought, “The floor of dreams, the office of…” PING! The elevator door opened almost as quickly as I got in. No time to get composed, I quickly checked my refection in the mirrored doors and bumbled into their office, trying not to be too British (I have a tendency to over play myself, like a kind of bad impression of Prince George from Blackadder) “Hello, erm, hi, and hello. I am, erm, David. David McCusker, I have an 11.30 appointment.” Two little eyes appeared from behind a decorative pumpkin on a desk and I was told to sit and wait.

Plonking myself on a giant sofa I helped myself to the bowl of Halloween candy, picking out a plastic-tasting chocolate ghoul. I glanced out to the view of the Hollywood hills in the distance and tried to look comfortable on the enormous seat. This was my second meeting with this agency and was surprisingly more nervous the second time around. Perhaps it was because I was kept waiting that led to that creeping self-doubt to appear in my head. We all have it, don’t we? The thought that any second now we’re going to get ‘found out’. Maybe they’d see I’m just a fraud too? A total charlatan winging his way through life. My talents were nought! Who was I kidding? WHAT AM I DOING HERE? my mind screamed at me like a Munch painting. “Sorry, David?” The eyes behind the pumpkin said, suspending my inner diatribe. “Yes?” I replied nervously, still with candy in my gums, “They’re ready to see you now.” and before I had time to continue my inner monologue of self-loathing I was being hugged by my new agent. “Welcome back! Great to see you!” and the self-doubt melted away like the weird chocolate stuck in my mouth.

With a successful meeting in the bag and my neurotic moment behind me, I found myself in the sunshine eating a bag of freshly chopped mangoes (a $5 bargain) from one of the food carts parked outside the offices. Popping a slippery slice in my chops, I smiled to myself thinking about my future life, knowing I had a great team supporting me when I finally make the big push West. Now there’s something I never expected to happen – actually having a US agent. It all felt very surreal. Now I just need to get this visa secured… aye, there’s the rub!

My lovely girlfriend pulled up and we drove over to Valley sharing the fruit and the good news. We were on our way to meet some English chums who made the move to LA the previous year. English biscuit gifts had been located by her’s truly and so it was afternoon tea by the pool. Another surreal moment checked off – dunking Hob-Nobs in my PG with palm trees on my peripheral. For a moment I feared I would become one of those ex-pats having a fry-up in the midday sun, harping on in my new strange transatlantic accent about the old country, “England? Oh, don’t miss it. Not one bit.” whilst shovelling black pudding in my gob. I looked down admiring that English chocolate melts very quickly on a biscuit in America. Maybe this wouldn’t be regular pastime after all.

Winner!

Quick post to congratulate the great team behind the short film Cancer Hair which has just done the DOUBLE! Taking ‘Best of Fest’ and ‘Best Short Fiction’ at the Isle Of Man Film Festival. Gail Hackston, writer and director, even got to meet Mark Kermode – making that a TRIPLE, no doubt!

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Did I mention I was in it? Yes, I played opposite the lovely Laura Aikman and a little known secret is that I was incredibly ill throughout the shooting. So victory tastes even better to after you spent the in-between takes with your head in a bucket.

Watch the Cancer Hair trailer HERE

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Year of the Horse.

Sorry blog! Sorry. I have neglected you. My urge to spill my thoughts and career experiences has been slightly smothered by the actual work that I usually waffle on about. This year has been galloping along a quite a lick and so for an update…

January saw me disappear off to Los Angeles for an extended holiday/recon mission to see if I fancied moving there. Well, guess what? my chances were fancied and upon my return in February I decided to try for move out there. First thing to do was to snag myself a decent lawyer for the 0-1 Visa application. I called around my celebrity mates for advice (that’s a lie) and found an excellent lawyer who specialises in visas for entertainment professionals. Initially, I thought I had to be ‘famous’ to be able to work out there, especially being a minority, but after my lawyer sifted through my 11 year old CV, sorry, resume´ (already learning the language, see?) it turned out that I’d been doing alright; in regular employment (rare for an actor) and had pretty good status to become, get this, an ‘Alien of outstanding ability’….. I always knew there was something strange about the spaceship my Dad hid in our barn. Superman_075Pyxurz

I had always had the impression that LA would be this weird flakey place where everyone looked like Brigette Nielsen from Beverly Hills Cop 2 or Hugh Hefner or a twisted hybrid of both. But it turns out that there are normal people there like you and me, just getting on with life and getting shit done. I’m guessing the weirdo rumour was probably started by someone who actually had a bad encounter with a Neilson-Hefner-Hybrid during a kinky pool party in the mid-80’s and then slunk back to England all cynical and went on a huge smear campaign. That rumour soon seeped into popular culture and somehow made it into my playground when I was 9.

Yes, there are the flakey industry people in LA – those types who say, “Yeah, you’re so now, you’re great…yeah, yeah, I’ll call you!” and then never return your call, but those people are in every city. There will always be a band of weird ones who float around the fringes of creative circles just talking drivel to each other to give themselves a sense of worth. But if you scratch the surface there are some wonderful folk out there in Tinsel Town and there seems to be sense of opportunity for those who want to work hard. Also the industry is THERE. It’s right in your face. I’ve lost count how many camera crews I’d see on a daily basis. A colossal amount of productions right at your finger tips, well almost…I guess that’s the great carrot being dangled that has brought so many young hopefuls there. So why wouldn’t you want to have a crack at it? Oh, they do nice sunsets too…

IMG_7380March came along and my theatre project Captain Pancake was been back in the rehearsal room at Chats Palace over in Hackney, East London. We applied for Arts Council funding to help get the theatre piece off the ground. Sadly, we didn’t receive our grant, BUT we are allowed to reapply later in the year as we have application was strong. So I’m not too disheartened – these be the perils of launching new theatre.

We have an excellent team now in place (see photo below) and amazing designer Ellan Parry is onboard to bring life our pirate vision. We are also looking at working with East London’s community schools to get underprivileged children within the development process and get a first hand experience of the theatre world. I’m also planning to make a new short film about it, so watch THIS space for previews.

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This horse-themed year has also had me de-cluttering my life and I stumbled across my old Equity diary from 2003 which was my graduating year from Bristol. Interestingly, this was the page it fell open on:

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This was February 2003 and during our production of King John at The Old Vic Studios. During the daytimes we had regular meetings with agents and casting directors and as you can see I met some rather sexy people, like the Royal Shakespeare Company (still waiting for that elusive audition) and these notes are from a meeting with one of those industry bods. The statistics on the note page were the most harrowing: “5 out of 30 (graduates) will be successful” I remember scoffing at the idea at the time, but to be honest it’s pretty accurate. There aren’t many of us left from that year – probably around 7 or 8 graduates who are still working…myself included…

Hold on, does that mean? Woohoo, I made it! *fist punches the air* I’m not a statistic!

So, to celebrate still being here I’m going to get a VISA and work in America. Yeehaw! Come on Horsey!

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January News

Sorry, it’s been a while. Moved house, did a bit of filming here and there and now in Los Angeles. It’s been full speed ahead!

November was busy with raising funds for my theatre project, Captain Pancake, and sadly didn’t get the 2nd phase off the ground with our Kickstarter fundraiser, but it did put the project out into the public domain and was excellently received. To understand more about the project, you can watch the new trailer that I made below:

Next phase is securing Arts Council funding, so watch this space. You can like out Facebook page here to keep up to date with regular news from the frontline of new theatre!

What else? Well, I filmed an excellent little comedy short film called Cancer Hair which is due for release onto the festival circuit this year. I starred alongside the very talented Laura Aikman and we shot over two days in London. It’s a humble tale about a young women in remission from Cancer and the writing balances pathos and humour perfectly. All directed and written by the lovely Gail Hackston.

In voice over world, I did a corporate training video for Virgin Atlantic and you can hear me on the TV as the VO for the new Nicorette Quick Mist commercial.

 Just before Christmas I worked on a new commercial for Cadbury alongside Blink Ink productions who used the wonderful Movi-Rig to create a smooth one-take shot. It’s due out this January and we spent a wonderful week rehearsing and devising the routine with Chicken Shed Theatre’s choreographer Rachel Yates. Catch it below.

 

And now I sit in my Venice Beach apartment (check out the view below!) escaping the January winter of London. I decided to pop over to LA for a few weeks to meet and greet people and to see about moving out here full time in 2015. So, I’m driving everywhere and seem to live in my car. This is the dream? On the plus side it’s sunny and the everyone is SO positive, even the actors I’ve met who haven’t worked for a year; “I’m in a really good place, right now, you know spiritually.” And so, to get into the spirit of things, I’m off to get my wheatgrass enema…

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Captain Pancake!

For the last 2 years I’ve been working alongside fellow Bristol Old Vic graduate, Simon Spencer Hyde, and together we have been creating a rather fun piece of physical theatre for kids. We’re now raising funds to help take it the next stage of development. To help do this we launched a Kickstarter page to help crowd source the funds. There are only 30 days to raise the funds and if we don’t reach the full amount we don’t get a penny! This will be the first phase of fundraising and after that we will be approaching The Arts Council to help set sail!

Check the page out and watch the video to learn more about our new theatre company, Pancake Productions, and this exciting new piece of comedy theatre:

All the video was shot by myself on 5D with editing from Katherine Janes at The Assembly Rooms in Soho, London.

Comedy Pilot News

I did a comedy pilot last year with the old gang from Zeus’ Pamphlet. Call Girls is written by Andrea Thompson Burke and I played the lead role or Marcus – a miserable middle manager with IBS. Twas much fun and was filmed on location in Bridgend, Wales. Here is a wee trailer for it which has just been released. Not sure what’s happening next, but I do believe it’s being pitched in some form. Watch this space!

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New comedy delights!

A few years ago, back in halcyon days between 2009 and 2012 I was in a lovely little sketch group call Zeus’ Pamphlet and after a few years on the comedy circuit in London and after rather tasty debut at 2011 Edinburgh Festival we bagged a comedy pilot and then went our separate ways. New creative paths we’re formed; I went on a ‘comedy sabbatical’ and decided to write plays and do triathlons, Frank became a stand-up and the rest of the gang went on to become a new comedy group called Don’t Shoot The Mermaid.

Since 2012 these comedy sirens have been building up a rather sexy web channel with a whole load of new material. In July I was invited to star in a new and improved version of one of our old favourite sketches written by Emma Rasmussen and directed by Simon J Riley.

It’s pretty racy in parts, so only click if you’re a proper grown up!