21/7/2011 - Hello Everyone
It’s been a while, but welcome back to the God Help The Girl website. We’ve been going at it with the duster somewhat, a little bit of shake ‘n’ vac, a touch of Pledge, and here we are.
I feel like an amphibious craft, or at least I felt like one when I finished the last Belle and Sebastian tour. What I mean by that is, I was flying on tour. The next day, I landed on the sea, and took to it like the proverbial duck; I woke up and the tour felt like a dream. It already felt like a long time ago. I was ready to be a Glaswegian once more, and I was ready to be in film mode.
People sometimes think that when you’re on tour that’s when you’re ‘busy’ and the rest of the time you’re ‘resting’. Now of course it’s not surprising that someone would think that, but it’s sometimes quite the opposite. When things are going good on tour, and you finish your show at The Forum in Melbourne, and you get on your bicycle to cycle home through the warm city air to your comfortable hotel in the hip suburbs, and the audience were fab and the band were fab, and you played a song you haven’t done for ages and it took you to a far off place that you haven’t thought about for a while… well, it’s not really work, is it?
So it’s the real Dog Days in Glasgow, the real doldrums, the Glasgow Fair, traditional two week holiday for the workers. It’s about as warm as it gets, and I’m drifting through the streets of Pollokshields and Govan and Partick and Possilpark, and I’m doing a pretty good impersonation of my own ghost. I’m thinking about things, which is meant to be work but isn’t, but then sometimes you can’t bear to be in a room any longer. And from the top of the hill in Bellahouston Park you can see back in time to the ‘80s, so it suits me to sit there and eat melon.
So what happened when we finished tour was that I came back to London and we started auditions for God Help The Girl. And thank God for that. It was so much fun. We had a room in Soho booked for a couple of days, everyone had 20 minute slots, which turned into half an hour because we always got chatting. So we missed lunch, but I didn’t mind because we were having so much fun.
What would happen was that the actors would come in with two passages for the film and a song of their own choosing. Caroline would film the actor reading and she would also play the other part. I’d sit there, watching the actor on a little TV set, and I’d cogitate and form opinions, and think of something to say at the end that wouldn’t give away the fact that I hadn’t done this before.
Over the weeks the readings have continued to trickle in from all over the world. Actors ‘self tape’, send in clips of themselves singing and doing a few scenes, and I get to watch them in the bath or on the sofa.
My already high opinion of the profession keeps getting higher the whole time. The standard has been very high, but I particularly love that everyone has had a go at the singing. The voices have been universally very good and always interesting. You never know what you’re going to get. Some fellow will sing you a song he wrote himself on the guitar, and then some girl taping in Australia will sing a Camera Obscura song just beautifully.
I think acting is a universal force. It’s something you learn which can help you as a person across the board. I think it’s something akin to learning meditation, which may help you in all different kinds of ways.
I was talking to Paul McGuigan the other night. He’s a film director, and he also happens to have given Belle and Sebastian their first ‘filmjob’ when he commissioned Slow Graffiti for The Acid House.
Well, we were chatting about Benedict Cumberbatch. Paul directed him in the recent Sherlock series. He remarked that he did a long shot when Benedict was chatting away at a 100 mph in character for about 10 minutes, never breaking the spell. Extremely hard to do.
At another time he phoned Paul up for a game of golf. On the first tee Paul asked him if he ever played before, and Benedict replied.
“No, not really, but I played a part recently that required me to play a little golf, so I took some advice.”
Apparently he ‘played his part’ very well, because he thumped the ball onto the first green near the hole and putted out for a birdie. He continued to do that for the first five or so holes until he got bored and his game fell away. In a sense he was ‘acting’, but that allowed him for a time to play golf like an old pro.
So, auditioning is fun, and I’m engaged in other film related things which have been fun too, and I’ll fill you in about these things as I go, but in the meantime, I’m making a list of fifty of my favourite actors for you to peruse, since I’ve been thinking about them so much. So check back here for that and prepare to be mystified and bored by my choices in equal measure!