Author: Jade Alexander (Actor
Article Title: 7 Steps to Empower Your Work & Career
Article Date: September 2013
Mini Biog: Jade Alexander is an actor and producer
who works in London. She is a proud fan of sci-fi films and
loves to work on genre projects where she can use her martial
arts skills. She has three feature films coming out later this
year (2013): Breaking Down, a US horror film where she plays
college student Lucinda, Death Machine in which she plays Senia,
a seductive saboteur from the future, directed by Neil Johnson
(Alien Armageddon), Sparks & Embers, a rom-com where she
stars alongside Kris Marshall. Her latest project, A
Perfect Soldier is currently in pre-production.
to Empower Your Work & Career
The film industry has traditionally been made
up of many people working in different roles with very specialized
skill sets. However as budgets are being cut, we are having
to expand our skills to be able to compete in this already overcrowded
market. So how do we stay true to our creative dreams and achieve
the career we’ve always aspired for?
Step 1: Don’t
“So what do you do?”
The inevitable question. There I was, at some-or-another
networking event, surrounded by industry people. One group worked
for the BFI, another for Paramount, and another for Hanway.
Needless to say, it was a little daunting.
“Well,” I began, “I’m
an actor and producer, I work freelance in both, and produce
commercials and corporates for a company, as well as running
my own production company that creates genre films”. Silence
reigned for a second and I really wasn’t sure if they
were stunned or a bit put off. Then someone said: “But
how can you be on both sides of the camera?”
“Well,” I said, “I love having
the chance to bring a great story to life and work with talented
people. Getting to choose the script, work with the director
as a producer is great, and then once I’m on set I switch
into actor and leave everything to my line producer. As long
as there are great people involved it works fairly smoothly,
and I get to create the work that I’m passionate about.
This is what I see more and more young film creatives
doing these days: we’re becoming the self-sufficient generation,
imagining, producing, marketing and distributing ourselves.
Step 2: Do It Yourself
Gone are the days of waiting by the phone for
your agent to call in the next ‘big job’. Every
serious actor out there is like a shark searching for blood,
or ‘hustling’ as the US actors say. Welcome to the
It’s no different for the other creatives:
filmmakers, editors, even motion graphics guys are expanding
their skillsets crossing over disciplines which not only makes
them more hire-able, but also able to pursue their creative
Besides I was never very good at waiting around
for a phone call.
Julia Cameron, author of the Artist’s Way,
wrote wisely: “Often it is tenacity, not talent, that
rules the day”. So now we have what a friend terms
the “slash” generation: actor-slash-producer-slash-writer-slash-musician.
In our overcrowded industry, people are fulfilling their creative
dreams by expanding their skills. While it is a still considered
a big leap in our industry, the most talented people are making
the shift from a very systemized process in which each person
focuses on one discipline, to being involved in all aspects
of film production. Think Gareth Edwards: a talented visual
effects artist turned director, or newcomer Ruari Robinson (Last
Days on Mars). You might have heard of actor / directors Clint
Eastwood, Ben Affleck, Angelina Jolie, and Drew Barrymore. The
list goes on. We work in an industry so overpopulated and oversaturated,
that we need to stand up for our creativity, stand out from
the crowd and remember to love what we do. We are creative beings
(or else we’d do something sensible, like banking!), and
need to express that in whatever way possible. Creativity is
not going to stand around while I wait for my great role, or
the director to spot me.
There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
All leading in the same direction
So it doesn’t matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time
is the one who runs around and around the mountain
Telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.
- Hindu Teaching
For my own part, ‘Acting and Producing’
was something I fell into. I had no idea I was going to be a
producer and sometimes I look back and wonder how I got here?
Working on both sides of the camera wasn’t even the plan,
if indeed anyone can have a plan in this industry.
Step 3: Understand
What Moves You
I started off as an actor in Sydney, at age 8
in a telemovie and moved onto theatre and film. All did not
go to plan as I found myself looking at endless dismal scripts
clichéd characters that I wouldn’t choose watch
as myself. Coming from Australia, there aren’t a huge
amount of films made to begin with and sci-fi genre films are
very scarce. As one funding body said, “We don’t
do genre, Hollywood does it better, with more money”.
This statement spurred me on towards a path that I’d never
even considered, creating the project, also known as producing.
It all happened fairly organically. One night
at a film party in Bondi, I’d been speaking about getting
a new reel when another actress I just met chimed in that she
needed a new reel as well. The filmmaker I spoke to later on
revealed he was looking for his next project, and a sound recordist
next to him was keen to help. Realising we had an opportunity
here I grabbed everyone together at the end of the night and
pointed out we could help each other! It was the defining moment
for me when I realized I could bring people together to create
collaborative and meaningful.
So it was that my first film (Platinum Chisel)
came to be, before I even considered myself a producer! The
experience of bringing together diverse talents with a shared
goal to make a great film was hugely positive, and paved the
way for my interest in production.
Since then I’ve had many adventures in
producing, from large scale 4D projects, to shorts, an Adidas
commercial shot in Rio and an award winning feature film as
“I never set out to be a businessman…”
- Richard Branson
Step 4: Read Between
Twin roles are complimentary. I’ve used
insights gained from acting in my role as producer on many occasions.
During one memorable project I was asked to source a casting
director. Of course there are many out there, and while I did
make a list of the most suitable candidates, the lead producer
wanted my direct input regarding people I had worked with personally.
Our ultimate choice (who turned out brilliantly) had actually
given me my first big commercial acting role. I’d had
a long relationship with her and felt confident in her professionalism,
and ability to find the right actors for the job. After getting
that big commercial from her, I don’t think either of
us ever expected that I’d return the favour a few years
As my favourite writer says: “The wheel never stops
Similarily I use my acting skills in the producing,
I’ve produced quite a few corporates & talking heads.
Business types are always a bit wary of the camera so I draw
on my experience to understand how they are feeling and make
use acting techniques to help them give their best.
Step 5: Use Everything
You Can To Get There
Both careers help me achieve my goals. I’ve
always been an actor, and always will be - its something fundamental
to my soul. On the other hand producing is addictive, and when
I am involved in a great project on both sides of the camera
it’s double happiness! I started my company, Little Jade
Productions, to promote up-and-coming talent, and have since
created collaborative projects in all different mediums; cabaret,
film, shorts, and immersive theatre. The one thing that connects
all of them is my love of genre, sci-fi, fantasy and action.
My belief is the only way to get noticed and be fulfilled is
to keep creating, honing your skills and ‘just keep doing
what you’re doing’.
"Perseverance, secret of all triumphs"
- Victor Hugo
Step 6: Collaborate
Whilst its all very well to say go off and create
your dreams, the reality is that we cannot do this alone. We
need to gather teams around us that support our vision and dreams,
as we support theirs. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and
I’m sure no one has ever received an Oscar and said ‘Thanks
to me”. So gather together your tribe of like minded people
who support, inspire you and collaborate with you.
My latest project A Perfect Soldier grew organically
from a simple love of sci-fi. I was pitched the original idea,
after doing an interview for an online channel, in the interview
I expressed my love of all things sci-fi. Sam Seal, Writer/Editor
then mentioned his sci-fi idea and the script was born.
Through the initial idea we managed to gather
a formidable all-female production team including Executive
Producer Christine Hartland, my Co-Producer Leena Salmela (asst
to Noah Baumbach on Frances Ha) and AP Chloe Cronyn as well
as a brilliant and passionate director Chamoun Issa.
The collaboration and team input has been invaluable,
without them I’d be facing a mountain of obstacles. Having
these talented, passionate people on board, contributing their
support, takes the project onto a whole new level.
Step 7: Be Fearless
On a final note I urge you to explore that artistic
unconscious desire, whatever it may be. If you are a ‘slash’
waiting to happen, then take that writing course, put paintbrush
on paper or produce that film.
I’ll leave you with my favourite quote:
“There is a vitality, a life force,
an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into
action, and because there is only one of you in all of time,
this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never
exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world
will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good
it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to
keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself
or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the
urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist
is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest
that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
- Martha Graham