An actor's life: "an Oscar-winning performance in front of my iPhone"

BY Nicholas Pound

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 6:05 am
Nicholas Pound
Nicholas Pound

Nicholas Pound is a professional actor/singer who has performed in theatre for over 35 years. He has played leading roles in Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Evita, Notre Dame de Paris and Man of La Mancha.

He has had a long association with the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. He moved to Old Town in Eastbourne 5 years ago, having lived in Spain for 9 years where he was the founder of vocal harmony group Tres Divos and hosted his own weekly radio show The Sound of Musicals on Talk Radio Europe.

Nicholas shares his thoughts....

Recently I’ve been discovering the joys of the ‘self-tape’. I use the word ‘joys’ semi-sarcastically because the whole ‘filming-yourself-at-home’ audition process has its pros and cons. The biggest joy for me, of course, is not having to drag myself up from Eastbourne to a London casting suite, sometimes with only a day’s notice and having to pay for a really expensive train ticket before my Network Railcard discount kicks in. It avoids a time-consuming and very expensive 5 minutes in front of a casting director.

Oh no……self-taping is the new future. Face-to-face, in person casting is sooo 2019. I can roll out of bed and half an hour later be in front of my iPhone giving an Oscar-winning performance for a dog food commercial, ping it off to my agent and then wait expectantly for her to call with the glad tidings that I’ve got the job! Well, that’s the theory anyway. As well as being our own harshest critics, most actors have a wannabe director in them as well, so we want to be sure the finished video is perfect – not only the acting, but the lighting, the background, the sound quality. I mean, we’re talking full-scale production here. Wearing something appropriate and styling your hair for the role is easy, but what about the setting? And props? Sound effects? But wait a minute – I’ve only got an aged iPhone, there’s laundry hanging over the radiators, and…oh God that wallpaper is too busy! I’ve mastered how to flip the camera so it’s pointing at me, selfie-style, but I always forget which is portrait and which is landscape. These casting directors are not only expecting us to be accomplished actors but technical whizz kids too!

I recently filmed a self-tape at home for a cameo in one episode of an exciting American TV series I’ve never heard of. Set in a café in Budapest, four lines only, easy. Weathered-looking, 50 - 60 year old South African businessman – tick; Afrikaans accent – a little bit of practice, but – tick; iPhone laying on its side (that’s landscape, isn’t it? Isn’t it?) – resting on a box of tissues and propped up against a bottle of Malbec to get the right angle (no, I don’t own a tripod, ok?), but again – tick. Partner reading in the other lines in a more than passable American accent – tick.

The scene starts with a mobile ringing – should we use an actual mobile as a prop? Yes, ok. Shall we get it to ring? Alright…you call it from the landline but you’ll have to make it stop ringing at the right time. Ok, sorted. Oh, we’re in a café, so I should probably have a drink – I know, some watered-down cold tea in a tumbler to play the role of ‘whiskey’. And…..action!

I didn’t really want the job, anyway. Fly to Hungary, 5 days hotel isolation before half a day’s filming, fly back and then 10 days quarantine at home? I mean, who can be bothered? I’d honestly rather do a home-grown dog food commercial.

Nicholas Pound