By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
Click on my face to link to my vlog!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Little bit of a Snip Snip

Reader, I am currently languishing on the sofa watching 'Bridezillas' and flicking through Style with a bowl of ice cream. I have just had quite a vast chunk of skin cut out of my tongue, so I sound like a deaf woman (with none of the lip-reading skills) which proved to make a director who called to offer me a re-call think I'm a nutter. I had to explain that I wasn't doing a silly voice out of lack of interest in the role but had only just come round from my general anaesthetic and still had a really numb tongue. I think I might have mentioned in an earlier blog that the op is to help get rid of my slight lisp, which is ironic because right now I sound like someone with a cleft pallet. (If my voice teacher read that, she'd kill me. There is a huge difference between sounding like a deaf person and sounding like a person with a cleft pallet, but I can't tell which I sound like. Sorry lovely voice teacher! I'll learn someday!) Now the phone is ringing, I am studiously ignoring it. My tongue is frozen. I refuse on principle to speak to anyone. The anaesthetist seemed a bit sad to be putting me under, he told me he thought my lisp was cute, which was nice to hear. Too bad dude, it's GAWN. Well. I won't actually know if it's gone for a while. And I'll have to give it a bit of a work out. Tongue aerobics and all that. What wasn't so nice was that he then started telling me about the domino pizza lunch he was going to have, along with all the other hospital staff. It was 1 by that point and I hadn't even been allowed a sip of water, so my tummy growled at him somewhat loudly and angrily. I had to pet it like a small but nonetheless vicious dog in case it decided to leap out my throat and strangle him.

Luckily now I have Ben and Jerry's Caramel Chew Chew which really makes me quite a bit calmer. And lucozade, which I think is probably better than antibiotics. Speaking of Junk food; has anyone seen that awful malteasers advert? It's a disgrace. All about people wasting precious chocolate by putting it in rockets and paper aeroplanes and stuff. Instead of doing all that, they should just post them to me. Obviously.

In others news, you may have noticed earlier I casually mentioned I got a re-call. Nothing casual about it reader, quite clearly. My first audition out of drama school and I got a re-call! I am feeling pretty damn proud. I know it's not much, a second audition for an unpaid film, but I love good news. And I feel a little bolstered knowing that I've had one success, no matter how little. It gives me a bit of much needed confidence, onward!

Just noticed I have blood in the corners of my mouth. That's attractive. I look like a child vampire, not even the sexy kind of vampire, a little chubby 8 year old one that's had a bit too much blood ice cream. Ick. MORE LUCOZADE! I want to be an orange vampire. Nom. What's really upsetting is that I have perfectly good mashed potato in the house and I'm not allowed hot food. To which I say only this. KHAAAAN!

God, these Bridezillas are mental. One is going ape-poop at a friend who can't make the wedding because a beloved aunt had died and the funeral fell on the same day and saying 'she shouldn't be stressing me out, I can't believe she would be so selfish!' Utter nutter-butters. However, all of the ad breaks have adverts with kittens, which gives pleasing amounts of adoreableness. Gyaw. Not that I'm getting any more pets. Apart from maybe a pygmy hedgehog. I looked at getting a slow loris but apparently that's a bit cruel. Whatevs. It's my birthday on Friday, am not expecting an exotic pet for it but part of me kind of want to open a box to find a baby sloth inside. Mum wants 3 teacup pigs called pinky, perky and porky. Am hoping she gives in to the urge soon, I'd love some baby piggies to play with!

On that vapid note,
Bye bye baby, bye bye bye!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Essay Avoidance/Sensitive kid's not acting like a grown up...

Reader, I am so bored I feel like beating my brains out with my Norton's edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Why, you ask? Well because one of the many joys of being a Drama School student is that you have to constantly reflect. All the time. On what you did, how you did it, what you did right, what you did wrong, what you decided to avoid doing completely, what your peers did wrong and which peers you just plain didn't like. You then have to write these great reflections on four sheets of computer processed paper. In a way that isn't bitchy, whiny or boastful. Now, initially, this was great. I actually even enjoyed it a bit. It made me feel important and like my Masters wasn't just a degree that was based on pretending to be baby sloths in movement classes. Now however, after around 15 of the damn things, they make me want to bang my head repeatedly into my Dell Inspiron [sic?]

The thing is, one of the reasons actors act is that they like being other people. They like stepping inside someone else's shoes rather than obsessing about being themselves (with the odd exception) and let's be honest, the great majority don't go into it because they're any great shakes at writing essays. I mean, I did an English Literature BA before this and even then I'd avoid writing as much as humanely possible. As I graduated I distinctly remember saying jubilantly to my mother 'No more bloody essays!'. How wrong I was. Also, you have to write about the experience of working with your peers. Now, if like me, once you've had a disagreement with someone you like to sweep it under the carpet and then start afresh with that person, reflective essays are not great. Because it's like going 'look, I know we made up, but I'm just going to write this thing about how much of a shit you are and how you ruined the blah blah blah we just did'. I don't find it useful, in fact, I sometimes think we only have to write it to keep the essays interesting. So that the tutors can go into the staff room and go, 'Oooh, you know who's having a right scuffle? Marley and Johnson. They're having a right bitch about each other in these essays I'm marking!' In fact, on my last essay, I got told off for not writing enough negative things about my peers. I tried to explain that actually we all rather liked each other and enjoyed the experience but that doesn't quite fill the criteria for a reflective essay sadly.

I might just make mine go 'I hated all of them, slept with half of them, had my money stolen by the director and went into business with my leading man, only for him to run away with the legal secretary to Malibu'. That ought to get me a first! Have just realised that so far I've written more for this blog than I have for my essay. Oh dear, that doesn't bode well does it? Of course, it doesn't help that I keep singing along to the essay soundtrack I made. Blondie is hard to resist. Even harder is Abba.

Right, I'm going to shoot off and BEAST THIS THING!


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Feminism and Baking (unlikely bedfellows)

My mother is very proud to say she is a feminist. She says it loudly in crowded places, debates about the meaning of it with her similarly feminist friends, and generally acts like a forward thinking modern woman, with her high powered job, her equal rights marriage and her no bull approach to the world. I however, whisper slightly apologetically that I am a feminist.

Don't get me wrong Reader, it's not that I'm ashamed to be a feminist. Far from it, I think the feminist movement has done great work and we are slowly reaching a truly equal world thanks to the fabulous women that have fought over thousands of years so that I can vote, work, have maternity leave and choose who I marry. It's just that I am a really really bad one. If the feminist cause found out how useless I am, they would probably toss me out on my ear for being bad advertising.

The thing is Reader, that I bake. Not only do I bake, I bake wearing red and white polka dot aprons with matching oven gloves. Sometimes in a fifties dress. Usually for my boyfriend. (Hides under a rock before I get attacked). And that isn't really such a bad thing in my head, apart from when I catch myself going 'Ooh, maybe I'll just whip him up a little cake, he's so stressed out, he deserves it'. See, I bake to show that I care. Constantly. I bake for birthdays, Parties, valentines day, anniversaries, glum days and happy days. Then I get angry if people don't eat my food because what is on the plate isn't JUST a chocolate heart shaped cookie, it's actually all of my feelings for that person. So by being too full after a 3 course roast dinner to eat whatever baked goods I present to them, they are spurning me. How dare they. And although it's completely irrational, sometimes I get stroppy and thing 'Where's my cake? Where's my love in the form of a lemon meringue pie?' So I go on a silent strike and don't bake anything. Although no one really notices, because lets face it, what sane person looks at a gathering of people and goes 'Wait, people, hang on just a sec......WHERE'S THE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE?' No one. That's who! Then I forget what I'm being huffy about and don my red and white polka dot apron again.

Of course, baking isn't the only thing that marks me out as a bit crap in the feminism department. Even my parents refer to me as 'the house frau' because I am such a home maker. I have an addition to scatter cushions. And little wooden boxes that serve no purpose apart from to make the place look cheerier. I lust after Smeg fridges and my 'calm thought' is when I think about the house I might have one day.

Also, and this is the really shameful bit. I love chick flicks. I am doing an acting masters, and I regularly choose Bridget Jones over the latest Bafta nominated gritty films. This is probably the thing that makes me a truly awful feminist. I go all gooey over the ending in films where the woman finally gets the man of her dreams and they go off hand in hand into the HD sunset. Now, the intellectual part of me goes 'NO! NO! Women do NOT need a man to make them happy! For God's sake Ash, pull yourself together woman!' The other 80% of me goes 'AWWWW, Bless, de'yre gownna get mawwied and have babies!'


I'm sorry feminist Over-Ladies, I know I've done wrong, I'll go without a fight, It's a fair cop!

Saying that, I still like to think I'm a modern day Boudicca/Xena the Warrior Princess and have a tendency to tell people off for telling sexist jokes. I've slapped 2 men in the past for being horrible sexist wankers (one tried to grope me on a French metro, one used a drunken friend without remorse). I read 'Eve Was Framed' and loved every page of it and god forbid anyone who doesn't hire me based on my sex alone. If a man ever tells me to get back in the kitchen, he'll be lucky to survive with any testicles left (even if, yes, I would rather prefer to be in there) and I am furious over the lack of roles in the film world for women from 35 upward (which I have to say, I think is where most women's lives really begin).

Well, maybe I am a good feminist after all. Albeit on that bakes. And constantly quotes Bridget Jones.



Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Working woman

Oh god Reader, I am petrified. Why? Because after one day of looking for a job, I have a trial shift tomorrow at my local pub/posh food place. Now, you may think that this, rather than being cause for terror, is actually exciting and rather positive news. You would be wrong.

It is scary! And nerve-inducing! And stuff...

You see, I didn't exactly expect to just get offered a trial shift just like that. I have no real experience, we're in an economic downturn and it was only the 2nd CV I'd handed out. I was thinking 'Hmmm, at least now I'll feel like I've done something and I can be all smug while I sit at home watching the Living channel and dreaming of accepting a Bafta from a smiling Colin Firth'. But no. Instead, I have been thrust fully into the world of work and I have got my panic on. Here are my reasons for feeling the fear.

1) I am a terrible, terrible waitress. I will most likely drop things. I will forget orders and maybe even give someone with allergies a peanut based meal.
2) I can't pull a pint. I also have no knowledge of beer or wine, because I stick to spirits and old woman sugar saturated drinks like Baileys and Amaretto. It is a pub. Oh dear.
3) I have yet to tell them that I can only work evenings during the week due to school and trying to get acting work. And that I can't do most of the next 3 weekends. Oh dear.
4) I have to wear all black formal/casual. What is formal/casual anyway? I mean seriously, the black thing covers most of my wardrobe anyway so that I can deal with but formal/casual? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron? Should I wear my Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress with trainers? Je suis confused.
5) I am terrible at dealing with bosses. Actually AWFUL. They make me feel like a naughty school child. Which makes 1) happen all the more often!

So yes, I am very very nervous. I wish there was something else I could do at night. I considered maybe working at a theatre in London then realised all of my wage would go on travel. I already babysit but it's too infrequent. If I don't get this job then maybe I'll apply at the local cinemas (although they are SO badly run it makes me angry whenever I go to see a film there, which is surprisingly often).

Oh well, at least if I get too nervy I'll be near the booze. Unconscious on my first night? Joy!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Being an Extra (special person)

Well reader, I begin this post in an office in Holborn (or as my voice teacher would say, hobun). Why you ask? Well, because I am currently extra-ing on the very last of the films my year will do. Technically I didn't have to, but the catholic guilt won out yet again. Plus, the allure of the catering table was too much to resist. Being an extra is actually a lot of fun because there's none of the pressure the main actors have to make an impact. You just have to create a strange little world in the background, pretending to type and having lengthy conversations without actually speaking. Mouthing 'rhubarb rhubarb' at each other and all that, although, us being 'proper method-typeee actors' we don't do that but instead come up with rich and complex bollocks to make us into actual people. As opposed to playing pretend. Or something. So my name is Gwyn from Woking, I'm a massive ho-bag with huge glasses (am nearly blind). I'm having an affair with my 50 year old boss, Reg. and I am generally pretty ridiculous. This makes the whole process of exra-ing a great deal more fun, as being Gwyn from Woking is a lot more interesting than being Ash-the-extra.

Of course, there are still long, dull periods where me and my extra-type-peers want to poke our eyes out with office equiptment. In which we have wheely-chair fights, massacre the catering table and gossip about the trade, i.e, really bad scripts, poncy films and that girl in the year above we think is up the duff. Given that most people here are mature students, this is hardly a scandal but given all the movement classes we have to do would prove more difficult than doing a yoga class in a sauna wearing a fat suit. Poor girl, she's probably not preggers, maybe she just had too much pasta for lunch or something...

I have to keep stopping typing, because it interferes with the sound. Is most annoying.

Also, I really need to wee (I always need to wee), and I have a group of hench Italian film crew blocking my path. Not their fault, obviously, it being a film set and all. If anything, my fault for drinking too much stolen pepperminty tea (from the offices kitchen, some poor PA called Susan will be very sad come monday when her fave tea is all gone).
I got really bored earlier, so I started writing a short story. It went like this:

Once upon a time there was a tiny little cow that lived under a blade of grass. His name was Frederick and he was severely allergic to pollen, which caused some issues given that he lived next to a field of flowers.  Added to this was the slight problem that him best friend was a bee and so Freddie’s home was constantly being sprayed with a fine sheet of yellow pollen. Poor Freddie was too polite to tell Bernard the Bee he was the cause of the constant sneezing and mucus laden nose, so he suffered in silence, letting out naught but a tiny moan of sadness whenever Bernard called to say he was coming for tea.

A melancholy little beginning I think. Am sure this post is littered with errors. No spell check. Utter hell.

Anyway, I'm off for a super quick wee as the hench Italians have shifted.



Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Social spanner made of chocolate

Reader, it may surprise you to learn that I am utterly useless at meeting people. 'No!' I hear you cry (by the way Reader, you sound like Brian Blessed in my head), 'Surely not, for you are an actor, all actors are good with people! Also, you have a blog! You talk to people via the magical medium of electrickery! You are a social bee!'

Sadly this is not the case. I am utterly useless with people. All people. Even friends that I have known since I was 7. It's not a lack of wanting to socialise, it's more that although although with my intimate family I can chatter away to my hearts content and broach long and interesting conversations about how there hasn't been a great female writer since Du Maurier and psychoanalyse my mother's dreams and come up with fun party games, with anyone else, I am like someone with a stutter and a brain sweating with malaria. And possibly rabies. I make no sense, I inadvertently insult people that I am trying to compliment, I trip over my words (and pronounce them wrong) I never know what to say ever in any situation, especially when I'm around people I like and respect. I am a social buffoon. I can't even blame it on aspergers because I am not touched by the disorder, just really crap with people generally. Balls. Luckily, I have a great group of friends who see through the neurotic, hyperactive, stumbling-over-words front and love me for who I am. On the negative side, as an actress, networking and thus meeting new people is a big part of the job. Utter terror.

As you can imagine, being such a social nitwit hasn't helped my love life much. Usually when I meet someone I fancy it goes a bit like this:

Imaginary gorgeous bloke; 'Hi Ash, how's it going? You look nice today.'
Me: (Bangs head on wall somehow) 'HAHAHAHAHAHA Yeah and you're a man! With hair! <thinks: oh god, pull yourself together woman, sort yourself out and ask him how his day's been> 'Howsee Gay?' <thinks: Bollocks.>

So altogether I am amazed I've ever even managed to cop a cheeky snog. I even manage to do that awful text thing that most people only do when they're drunk, of texting the person you're writing about by accident. Usually saying really awful things like 'Oooohhhh baby, I'd so jump Imaginary Gorgeous Bloke's bones!' when they're sitting next to me.

But there is hope Reader! For after years of tripping myself up in those situations I have somehow managed to secure a boyfriend. God knows how. He seems to find my weird lack of social niceties endearing for some reason, so there's hope for you all! If I can find love anyone can! Of course, we only really managed to get together because of a social blunder on my front. The first time he met me, he overheard me saying far too loudly to a friend 'Cor, he's cute' when he was on the other side of the room, and thus we began!

I suppose in which case, my lack of any skills in that department have actually helped quite a bit....


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The golden glimmery glamour of filmmaking

Reader, I am afraid I shall have to dispel a myth. I know for some it will be difficult to digest. It may be painful, indeed, I almost feel cruel for telling you but I feel it's my duty. The fact of the matter is this.

Filming is not glamorous.

There, I've said it. Breathe. Sorry if I've stomped on your dreams but that's just the way it is. We film actors do not waltz around in furs and diamonds (more like 2nd hand wool jackets that smell a bit and Primark earrings), we don't have our own trailers (that's for the A-list set) and very few of us are truly good looking (no matter what our very shiny and beautiful headshots may lead you to believe).

The reality is this. Film is uncomfortable. It's slightly ratty and damp. It's full of people having strops and locking themselves in cupboards. When you're in the big league this is probably a bit different, I'm sure A-listers lock themselves in their posh Winnebagos instead.

I used to be like you reader! I used to think that as a 'proper' actor I'd whirl in in my mink, dripping with emeralds and a perfect complexion, hair done up in a really Bette Davis sort of way, air kissing the director then popping onto set to do a bit of acting that was so artfully perfect that even the tough sound guy sobbed. Then they'd applaud me and I'd totter off to my trailer to have a massage and sushi before I was needed for the next 5 minute shoot. Maybe Vogue would pop in to take some pics and interview me in the meantime, and I'd talk about what an honour it was to work for said director whilst smoking through a mother of pearl cigarette holder.

Of course, the funny thing is that it doesn't quite work like that. The reality is thus. You have to get up really really early in the morning to be ready for make up and costume, and you have to avoid anything fun for breakfast in case it bloats you or sticks in your teeth. You sit wearing a bib bored until you're called then it's either hours under very hot lights (with sometimes rather smelly co actors who turn even more ripe under the heat) or if you're exceptionally unlucky, you'll be called to an exterior shot which will inevitably take place in the middle of January when it's dark out and there's snow on the way. Dogs bark at you, joggers stop and gwap (with good reason, because it's the luck of the draw that your costume will be a bikini or a couple of teabags laced together with toothfloss) and the shot will take forever because your co-actor can't quite remember his lines, or the light's not right or it's just a little too windy for sound. Your acting skills will be pushed to the point and you try and fight the goosepimples and blue lips. Then you'll have a break which you'll be initially despo for but by the third hour you'll want to pull your hair out. And you won't be able to smoke. Why? Because smoking ruins your skin and teeth and you'll look awful on screen. By the end of the day your legs will ache, your skin will have broken out in spots thanks to hours of sweat and the smell of enhanced BO will have made you feel all icky. You'll want to curl up in bed, but still you'll have to learn a few pages of lines, so you'll prop your eyes open with toothpicks and work on till your Asda price bulb fails.

The thing is, despite ALL of this...we still do it. Because as much as we complain and grumble and wish we had decided to be accountants instead, acting is the only thing we could ever really feel complete doing. It's not just a career choice, it's a calling. And all the exhaustion, the cold, the sweat and the hiding in cupboards next to an industrial strength carton of floor cleaner is worth it at the end of it all when we get to watch the whole thing, this piece of art that we've somehow made.

Working in film isn't glamorous. It's not dripping with pearls and full of glory, but it's our life, our bread and butter. We do it for free, in awful working conditions at times, because there's nothing quite like it.

Hope I haven't killed your dreams too much folks!