Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting in on the Act - an Actor/Writer



Steve Emmett is the author of the much acclaimed thriller “Diavolino” which I reviewed here http://lauracea.blogspot.com/2011/02/fabulous-read.html. It’s currently standing at number 7 on Amazon’s Kindle horror books by customer rating with no fewer than 29 gushing reviews.

He’s also a budding actor, having launched his career at the end of last year. 

I managed to catch up with him in his busy schedule to find out if acting and writing are compatible.



Sue: Tell us something about your acting experience.

Steve: When I was at school I always loved the idea of being an actor but I did nothing about it. At that time, where I was, acting wasn’t something on the careers list of the grammar school and my parents certainly never encouraged me. All my life people have said that I should be on TV or the stage, yet still I ploughed on with a career that failed to satisfy me. Around the time I felt the urge to change course, when I began writing, I was having dinner with my old friend the actress Nina Baden Semper. I’ve always been able to throw her into fits of laughter with my stories and impersonations and that night was no exception. When I said that I would love to be an actor but it was too late she reprimanded me. ‘It’s never too late,” she said. “Get on and do it. You could be the new Brian Blessed.” I didn’t really think even then that I would, but her words struck home and I kept hearing them during that period I sold up my business in Italy and returned to England. So, once I’d got my writing career underway I decided to give acting a go. I went to see the casting director, Joe Adamson Parker, and basically asked her to test me out and tell me to shove off if she thought I had no talent. Well, she asked me to join her group in Leeds and that’s where my training began.
It’s far from easy to get started. There are thousands of experienced and talented actors without work. It’s about as hard as it is for an unpublished author to get published. You have to be determined and patient. The first job I landed was playing a detective superintendent in a docudrama about a bank robbery. If you have cable you might catch me as the programme will be aired in the autumn. But to really have a chance you need to gain experience and add credits to your CV, and one of the best ways is to work with university students on their degree films. I was lucky to audition for about a half a dozen and land three roles. I’ve played a demon tutor, a wife beating child-abusing husband and a priest with a secret. The latter, called Manus Dei, is a film noir and will be doing the rounds of festivals and competitions over the coming year.
At present it’s all auditions, and I’m often in London trying to land a part in something or other.

     Sue: Does acting influence your writing and vice versa?

Steve:  Both are creative and certainly there is a cross-over. You know, Sue, as a writer that you have to know your characters. An actor has to go one step further and become the character. That’s the bit I love. It’s escapism, just as writing allows me to live in a fictional world most of the time. Acting makes you acutely aware of how other people react to certain situations and this is very useful to me as a writer. On the other hand, having learned how to craft a story has enabled me to grasp the plotlines rather quicker than I might and in some cases I have been able to make suggestions to the director which have enhanced the films. For me, the two jobs are organically intertwined.

    Sue:  If writers are planning to turn their novel into a screenplay, or intending to write directly for the big screen, what advice would you give them?

Steve: Well, I don’t write screenplays or scripts but I have read many, and I’ve watched thousands of films. The acclaimed play write, John Godber, spoke to our group recently and he said that the difference between a novel and a play (we can include film) is that a novel contains too much description whereas the play just gets on with the action. In my opinion – and who am I to say? – he’s partly right. My stories, as you will agree I think, get on with it from the beginning and don’t dwell on too much description. This sort of page turner makes a good film. Keep the action going. Even then, when screen writer James McSloy wanted to turn Diavolino into a film script I was more than happy to hand it over to him. It’s another world completely. So, trying to answer your question, if a writer wants to write the screenplay they will have to learn the ropes all over again. If they want to write a novel with a view to it becoming a film, they should make sure there’s plenty of action, tension and interest both visual and intellectual.

    Sue: Be honest. Which do you prefer, writing or acting?

Steve: In all honesty, I don’t prefer one over the other. I love to see a completed story, but there are truly painful times during the writing process. I love the thrill of becoming someone else in front of the camera, but learning lines is one of the worst things I’ve ever done.

         Sue: Diavolino has been such a success which must be a marvelous experience for you. Is there going to be a sequel or are you working on something different now?

Steve: I know that the sequel has to be even better; I don’t want to be one of those authors who disappoints after the first novel. For this reason I’ve made a start on the sequel but have left it to ferment a while. I’m currently writing another horror novel which, if I succeed, will be more complex and darker than Diavolino. I’ve also written a macabre and twisted short story which might see the light of day very soon. At the same time I’m fiddling with a number of other novels and novellas, as well as collaborating with James on the – almost finished – screenplay for Diavolino.

           ***** Exciting news indeed. 
           I can't stress it enough : I adored Diavolino. 

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Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/chukkie58
Etopia Press purchase link:
http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=20