Saturday, February 28, 2009

Faces to Watch in 2009

20 year old Jo Woodcock (represented by Rebecca Blond Associates) can't quite be classed as a teen actor but is definitely a young actor sure to make it big in 2009. After starring to great critical acclaim as Alice in the very successful missing child drama "Torn" in 2007, she went on to perform in the BBC dramatisation of Tess of the D'ubervilles. This year we'll see her in the feature film Dorian Gray due for release in September 2009 and next month in the new BBC choir drama "All the Small Things".
She plays teenage daughter "Georgia", starring along side ex-Coronation Street heart-throb Richard Fleeshman. Her other brother Fred is played by another young face to watch Jamie Birtwistle (represented by Linton Management) in his first major role.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Billy Elliot film?

A good story concept can sure get a lot of mileage in the entertainment world. Nearly a decade after Academy Award-nominated “Billy Elliot” hit theaters, we’ve seen the screenplay’s adapted into “Billy Elliot: The Musical” in London and on Broadway. Now, its studio is eager to pull a “Hairspray” and bring the musical to the big screen – so, why is director Stephen Daldry hesitant about once again dusting off Billy’s ballet shoes?

Daldry — who has been nominated for a best director Oscar for “The Reader,” and earned his first nomination for “Billy” — directed the musical version of the tale of a boy raised by his testosterone-fueled father, who chooses ballet over boxing. The musical has won over audiences in London, Melbourne and now, New York City. “’Billy Elliot: The Musical’ just opened up in Broadway,” Daldry told MTV recently. “And now we’re going to open that in San Francisco, and take that around the country.”

As fans of “Hairspray” know, that John Waters project has traveled the unusual road of going from cult movie to musical to movie-musical; ditto for “The Producers.” Daldry revealed to us that with those recent successes in mind, the studio is hoping to bring “Billy” back to the screen for yet another twirl.

“You know,” he sighed. “That’s exactly what Universal is hassling me about. Now we’ll be doing ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical: The Movie’!”

The only problem, however, is that the three-time Oscar nominated filmmaker isn’t so sure that he wants to revisit Billy’s tale anytime soon. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I think probably not; but they’re really pushing for it.”

As 2007’s “Hairspray” has shown, transitioning a project from the big screen to the big stage and back again can prove to be a successful enterprise – in fact, a sequel to the “Hairspray” musical movie is currently in the works. Although the original 1988 version of “Hairspray” was only a moderate success, the Broadway musical was a smash hit with both critics and audiences. “The Producers” similarly turned a 1968 Mel Brooks flick into one of the biggest musicals of all time, then filmed a version with stage stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

Even with the successful track record of such musical-to-movie adaptations, Daldry is skeptical about continuing the “Billy Elliot” sensation. Even though, you’d think, all the potential money to be made might change his mind.

“Well you know,” he grinned, “you’d be surprised…we’ll see.”

The original Billy Elliot filmed starred a young Jamie Bell.

Should Billy Elliot slip back into his cinematic dancing shoes? Or is time to let the teenager take five?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Faces to watch in 2009

She may no longer be a teenager, but she's playing teens in her latest two films and 2009 may well be the year of Carey Mulligan (represented by Julian Belfrage Associates). The 22-year-old has 2 films coming out this year, both previewing at this year's Sundance.
About a Boy writer Nick Hornby adapted the screenplay for An Education, a period-drama (set in the 1960s) in which Carey plays a 16-year-old who dates an older man (Peter Saargard).
In The Greatest, she stars alongside Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon as a pregnant teen who breaks a family apart and ultimately brings them back together.

British audiences will remember her as Sally Sparrow in the stand-out Dr Who episode of 2007 "Blink".

Mulligan has said that her passion and love for acting was first kindled at her old school Woldingham School, where she took part in a school production of Sweet Charity in her final year, and where she was also a student head of drama.
I had wanted to act for a really long time, but other schools I had been to did not have such good drama departments. Everyone was so encouraging. You could do anything you wanted to, although you had to take it seriously. If you missed rehearsals, you were out.

2/3/2009 Definitely one to watch, it has been announced that Carey has been cast in "Never Let Me Go", starring alongside Keira Knightley.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dakota Blue Richards interview

Dakota Blue Richards on the trouble with being a teenage film star

Dakota Blue Richards (represented by Sue Latimer at ARG)is the seasoned film actress who stars in Warner Brothers' latest big-budget fantasy, 'The Secret of Moonacre'. Whether she's working the red carpet, on set with Nicole Kidman, or dealing with scandalous headlines, she knows just how to handle herself. But what kind of world is this for a 14-year-old girl from Sussex?

Interview by Hermione Eyre in The Independent

At first glance, I barely recognise the new Dakota Blue Richards. Gone is the fierce little girl with soft auburn hair who played Lyra in The Golden Compass, the 2007 adaptation of the Philip Pullman novel. Here instead, at 14, is an extremely self-possessed mini-starlet, with kohl-ringed eyes, a swanlike neck and artificially dark hair, ornamented with tufts of black faux fur. And check out those high heels! She can walk pretty well in them, too. I feel a pang of loss that her unspoiled younger self has gone so soon. But isn't that just the way with child stars? We over-invest.

I meet her at the Sunday morning children's charity premiere of her latest film, The Secret of Moonacre. The mini-celebrities are out in force, working the red carpet. The thimble-sized EastEnders actor Devon Higgs is posing with Charlie Wernham, the 13-year-old stand-up from Britain's Got Talent. Beside them, beaming shyly in a tutu and wellies is the actress Maisie Smith, only eight but already cornering the market in redheads, having played both the young Elizabeth I and Patsy Palmer's daughter. The press shout at them appreciatively. Then Dakota arrives and they go mad.

"Dakota, over here!"

"Smile for me, Dakota?"

"On your right, Dakota!"

The fans, too:

"Would you sign my programme?"

"I've been wanting to meet you for sooo long!"

And the TV news crews: "What's the best thing about being Dakota Blue Richards?" Then she has to give three speeches introducing her film to three different screens inside the cinema, then there's a bundle of charity posters that need signing, and finally, there's the woman from the Independent on Sunday waiting to speak to her. She sits down opposite me looking like she might cry.

"I'm SO annoyed. All my friends are in there, watching my film. And I've had to come out and do interviews."

Wow. She's got the teenage voice and attitude to go with her new look. She doesn't come across as rude, just heartfelt. And while in an ideal world the child starlet should be able to watch movies as well as perform in them, in reality it's impossible as she has only one day, today, to promote her huge-budget Warner Brothers film, due to the claim on her time by the small legal requirement known as school.

How many friends does she have with her today? Seven. Boys and girls? Yeah. Friends from school or friends from films? This provokes another gust of exasperation. "People just don't understand! I don't hang out with people like that at the weekend. I know people from working with them on films but they're not the ones I would meet up with... I'm just a normal person!"

Ah yes, the "normal" word. When I interviewed the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory star Freddie Highmore in 2007 he also used it with touching frequency, about himself, his hopes for the future, even, most improbably, about his co-star Johnny Depp. Dakota says working with Natascha McElhone was really lovely because, "It's nice to have normal people around." You can see why child stars like the normal word – it's modest, conservative, self-defensive, a good way of saying something without saying anything – but really, what normal person would ever describe themself that way?

Dakota Blue Richards was not christened for normality. Her mother Mickey (short for Michaela) – a calm, watchful presence at the premiere – chose it after spending some time in the US near the Dakotas with the Sioux tribe of native Americans; she had wanted to name her for a place and a colour, and she has said that Dakota's absent father (not named on her birth certificate) was nicknamed Blue. Mother and daughter live outside Brighton, where Mickey runs a drug treatment centre and Dakota – "Dee" to friends – went to an independent school until 11, when she moved to K-Bis, a stage school.

Her life changed when she went along to the open audition for the part of Lyra in The Golden Compass and was chosen out of 10,000 girls. The stories about that magic day are well-rehearsed (she's even told them on the Ellen Degeneres Show): her mother was going to take her along only if she promised not to be disappointed if she didn't win, and if it didn't rain. She didn't brush her hair that morning so she looked "untamed" – like Lyra. The film's director, Chris Weitz, later praised her "intelligence combined with a feral quality".

Gabor Csupo, who directed Moonacre and has worked with a lot of child actors, told me she was a star in the making. "She's very withheld with her emotions, but you can still read a huge range of feeling in her eyes. I really respect that type of performance, that minimal expression." He says she was very good at interacting with a red laser dot and pretending it was a lion. "You know, she hasn't even been doing this for a long time, unlike some people who are acting from the age of five."

The Golden Compass was made on the understanding that, as with the Harry Potter franchise, they would be filming the whole of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. But The Golden Compass had a lukewarm critical reception and irritated the evangelical Christian lobby, and the whole project seems to have ground to a halt. "People say, 'Oh yeah I'd love to do that,'" says Dakota. "And 'We should do that,' and 'We should get this or that scriptwriter' but as far as I can see nobody actually DOES anything."

Has it been a disappointment? "Erm, a little bit? As I know the film was a big success. It was, like, the 109th biggest-grossing film ever made. I do worry the time will come when I'll be 16 and too old for it and they'll say, 'We're gonna get somebody else." Her little face looks, momentarily, very sad. But she keeps it together. "Which is a shame, as I loved the second and third books – if possible, more than the first."

Following her Christmas success in the lead role of Dustbin Baby, a made-for-TV film that delves into the fragmented past of an orphan, her new film, The Secret of Moonacre, is a lavish version of The Little White Horse, the children's novel by Elizabeth Goudge that was published in 1946. A sort of sub-Narnia for girls, it's a comfortingly old-fashioned fairytale film that Warner Bros is pushing hard ("it's getting the same publicity budget as [Oscar hopeful The Curious Case of] Benjamin Button," I overhear in the cinema lobby). It is not part of a series, although Dakota does have a suggestion. She thinks her character, Maria Merryweather, has hidden depths. "I think if there were to be a sequel or something, there would definitely be a lot more to learn about her."

In some ways, this young woman operates far beyond her years. For the three months she spent in Hungary filming Moonacre, there was one other young person on set: her stand-in (someone roughly the same size and height who stands in the star's spot while the crew are setting up, checking the light and so on) – but she didn't speak any English.

Dakota still had fun, befriending the DOP (Director of Photography) and eating most of her meals with the cast and crew rather than in her trailer: "The only time I eat alone is if I'm really tired or upset about something or on the phone to one of my friends, when it's easier to be alone. But you can't be too wrapped up in yourself ... it starts making you look a little bit prima donna. You've got to treat it like starting a new school. Just go in there and be confident from the beginning and say, 'Hi, I'm Dakota, do you mind if I sit with you?'"

She also made friends with a fellow actor in his early twenties called Augustus Prew (ARG), who plays Robin. Her line, addressed to him and his gang – "I know who you are, you're vagabonds and plunderers!" – became a bit of a catchphrase on set. In the first draft of the script, her character fell in love with Robin and there was a big kiss scene at the end. But that was never filmed, she says, her voice heavy with sarcasm, "which was quite convenient? Seeing as he's six years older than me." Kissing – gross! But later when I saw Prew at the premiere – all skinny tie and skinny jeans, perfect girl-crush material – I could also see why she might be suggesting a sequel.

"You grow up a lot on set," she says, "but it doesn't change you." Has filming made her more self-conscious about her looks? "Yes. I got into this at an age where I was never self-conscious about the way I looked, but going into make-up every day, well, it's fun, but it puts you into a frame of mind where you think, maybe unconsciously, why do I need it? Is there something wrong with me?" When she got the part in The Golden Compass she was asked if she would be willing to wear veneers on her teeth – she and her mother were horrified: "Like, what the hell?" She didn't have to, in the end, and "Generally, none of it had much effect on me, because I don't have low self-esteem.

"I'm a fairly confident person. It's not like I'm always thinking, 'Ugh, I look really ugly.' My mum says you should use make-up to enhance your good looks and that the make-up I wear is only to make me look even nicer. So it's nice having my mum there to keep me grounded." Her mother is her official chaperone on set, and her grandmother sometimes takes turns, too. Dakota doesn't worry about her weight either. "I can eat nothing or like a pig and it makes no difference because I have a really high metabolism. I think there's a really mature side of me that can deal with problems – but when I'm with my friends, I get to act much more kidlike."

Ah yes. Last year certain kidlike behaviour caused the scandal we shall refer to as "Snowman-gate". Provoking headlines including "Dakota Blue Richards Branded a 'Yob' by Locals," it was reported by the Telegraph and a local paper among others that the then-13-year-old actor had been "involved in the destruction of two snow sculptures" outside a newsagent in Hove. The girl and her "gang" had wantonly flattened a snowman and a snowdog – which had lumps of coal for eyes, no less. Abe Resteto, 40, a newsagent who joined with other community members to build the "sculptures", said, "We put our heart and soul into that snowman." Another local commented: "It seems kids today can't stop being inconsiderate yobs even if they are film stars."

A trenchant piece of news journalism, no? Dakota rolls her eyes. "It was a bunch of older guys who should have known better." The destruction, it seems, was provoked: "It was like, 'Throw ice at us and we'll kick down your snowman.'" Thinking about it, her instantly legible face darkens. "I reckon it was a bit of a set-up, really. I'm not cross, but you do just wonder what must go through people's heads when they think, 'I'm going to go tell that story.'"

Last year, her personal pictures were filched and disseminated online. "I can't have Bebo or MySpace or Facebook [profiles]," she sighs, "because there's fake people and fake finders saying, 'You're a fake unless you go on webcam to me.'" Later I browse online and find a YouTube film warning fans off seven different fake personal profiles for her. They have names like "Dee" and "BabyBlue" and feature strange modified pictures of her face, superimposed on to other young girls' bodies. On another site someone has written: "She goes to my school... she's sooo mean." Is it a fellow K-Bis student seething with jealousy? Or a weird old man typing nonsense? It's a scary cyberworld out there. After looking at those transmogrified pictures of her, I actually have a nightmare about them.

Usefully, Dakota's a philosophical kind of person. She's agnostic, she says, but "open to the concept of religion"; when filming wrapped she and her mother gave cast and crew ethical presents from the Good Gifts guide. When I ask if she feels under pressure carrying a film, she says no: "I don't worry because... have you ever heard the starfish story?" She tells me how saving the life of just one washed-up starfish on a beach of thousands still counts. "If you just make a tiny difference to one boy or girl, then you've won."

With that she's ready to rush off into the cinema, as fast as those high heels (not allowed for school) will carry her. "Next time I'm going to put it in my rider – must watch her own film!" she cries. "Dakota Blue Richards must have blue-berries two centimeters wide! And must drink Fijian water!" "Must drink tap water," her mother says, reprovingly, before adding, for my benefit: "And you don't have a rider, do you?"

Friday, February 6, 2009

Feature film casting call - Scotland

 The search is on to find two young Scots to star in a new movie from Harry Potter director Alfonso Cuaron.
The Mexican film-maker, one of Hollywood's hottest talents, is looking for two youngsters to take lead roles in his next project, A Boy and his Shoe, which is to be filmed in Scotland, England and France this spring.

Cuaron, who directed hit films Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is scouring Scotland for the ideal boys to star in his new road movie, which is due to begin shooting in the spring.
The film, set in Scotland, England and France, follows the progress of Paddy, shy, vulnerable and bullied by friends and family, who forges a strong friendship with Elijah, slightly older but just as lonely.
Open casting calls have recently been held in Perth and Glasgow. The would-be movie stars were given dialogue to read as well as improvisation tasks and an informal chat in front of the cameras with casting director Kahleen Crawford.
A spokeswoman for Ms Crawford said several of the youngsters had “caught the eye”. “Kahleen was impressed with a few of the people she saw so it was worth doing,” she said.
“Alfonso Cuaron is one of the most respected contemporary directors and the fact he’s bringing the film to Scotland and looking for fresh talent is a great opportunity.”
Anyone who missed the audition still has time to put themselves forward for the roles. Budding actors can e-mail their full contact details, address and a recent photograph to


We are looking for two Scottish boys aged between 16-18 for the film, with genuine Scottish accents. They don't need to have drama experience as the characters are both the boys are 'outsiders' so it could be the quieter boys that have something about them that could be great as well.

There are two characters PADDY & EILIJAH.

Paddy around 14/ 15 (but would be played by a young looking 16 year old) and is written as having a mother from the Gypsy / Traveller community and a father from the settled community, so would be caucasian but very possibly with dark looks. Slim build. Paddy is quite shy and vunerable - bullied by his friends and family.

Elijah is around 17 and from a Gypsy / traveller background and would also be dark in his looks. He is a bit nerdy and a bit of a lonely. He seems quite young for his age and easily makes friends with a younger boy. Elijah is insecure and curious about the world outside his community.

Those who attend the casting sessions must be aged 16 to 18 years old as of April 2009, but have the potential to look around the age of 14 to 15 years old.
They must also have a Scottish accent.


Feature film open audition

Shoot date tbc this year.
Blame it on the Bhangra
This is the story of a Southall girl, SONALI ALBAN, who aims to compete in an all male Bhangra dance tournament. In order to win the competition she disguises herself as a man, SANJ THE MAN and is trained by a dance guru to get to the dizzy heights needed to become a master Bhangra dancer. Set in Southall amidst the vibrant and culturally rich streets and peoples of the town, it is partly musical, partly action and all screwball comedy.
Sonali, 18, but has never been able to show off her skills to the world, a beautiful (inner and outer) athletic, intelligent Asian girl. She is a carom champion (an Asian board game), a bookworm (Dickens to Dostoevsky) and a great Bhangra dancer
Sonali is an English girl filled with attitude and confidence but not arrogant and although fancied by a lot of guys she has no time for men – especially Southall boys.
Harry, 18, a teenage Asian kid, born and bred in Southall. As a youngster he was seen as a potential world champion Bhangra dancer, but along came puberty and girls

Thursday, February 5, 2009

NSPCC Young Performer of the Year

The 29th London Critics' Circle Film Awards, in aid of the NSPCC took place on 04 February 2009.
For the first time, an NSPCC award for Young British Performer of the Year was added and it went to Thomas Turgoose for his performances in Shane Meadows's Somers Town (see ScreenTerrier's previous blog here) and the critically-acclaimed horror film Eden Lake, consolidating the promise he showed in This Is England.

The other young nominees for the award were Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), Georgia Groome (Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), Bill Milner (Son of Rambow), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), and Will Poulter (Son of Rambow).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


After an open casting call last year for the part of Charles Darwin's daughter Annie in Jon Amiel's Creation , the role was won by 9 year old Martha West (represented by Tavistock Wood). Paul Bettany, one of Britain’s most acclaimed actors, and his real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, the Oscar-winning Hollywood star, play her parents Charles Darwin and his wife, Emma. The film tells the story of Darwin as a young, vibrant father, husband and friend whose mental and physical health gradually buckles under the weight of guilt and grief for a lost child. Ultimately it is the ghost of Annie, his adored 10 year-old daughter who leads him out of darkness and helps him reconnect with his wife and family. Only then is he able to create the book that changed the world.
Martha West discovered her love of acting when she began performing in school plays whilst attending the drama club at her school in South West London. She turned 10 years of age during the filming of CREATION, her feature film debut playing Charles Darwin’s beloved daughter Annie. She is the daughter of Dominic West, star of acclaimed HBO series The Wire.

Creation is due for release in September 2009.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grandpa In My Pocket

Tuesday 3rd February sees the launch of CBeebies’ first-ever comedy drama for pre-schoolers, about a young boy Jason's everyday adventures with his mischievous Grandpa. Grandpa In My Pocket stars James Bolam (New Tricks), and introduces two new child actors.

Grandpa’s energetic partner in crime is seven-year-old Jason, played by Jay Ruckley (represented by ATSLI). Jay has a number of theatre productions under his belt including Tiny Tim, in A Christmas Carol, and the juvenile lead role in the touring production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This is his first main TV role.

Jason’s older sister, Jemima, is played by Jay’s fellow newcomer, 10-year-old Josie Cable. Josie has performed in many theatre shows including Aladdin, Annie, Fame, Oliver! and Doctor Dolittle, but this is her first television role.