I follow Francesca's career on social media and she always appears a hard working and busy actress. She was perfect for the blog :)
What made you want a career as an actor?
I’ve always performed in some way, from piano competitions to ballet to Latin debates; acting as a career was a natural progression really. My Nan Stella acted in a variety of am-dram and pantomimes which inspired me a lot. My family are huge film lovers too so I’ve grown up appreciating screen acting in particular.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?
I think the answer that first came to mind was winning ‘Best Actress in a Short’ at Artemis ‘Women In Action’ film festival in Beverly Hills last year for my work on ‘Dead Meet’ by Daniel J. Brant which was incredible; going on stage to accept an award for my acting after such strong, brilliant women as Michelle Rodriguez, Ming-Na Wen and Debbie Evans was both daunting and a real honour. Recently thriller ‘King of Crime’ directed by Matt Gambell for Springbean Ltd. & Linda Dunscombe films was released in stores like Tesco, ASDA and HMV nationwide as well as all the usual suspects on TV/Online: Sky, Amazon, Googleplay, Virgin etc. and that was amazing too. I play Gemma Carter alongside Claire King as Yvonne King and Chris Ellison as Edward, both of whom I have a heck of a lot of respect for, and seeing a film in which I’ve acted in the stores alongside blockbusters was surreal!
However, the fact that I can pursue it as a career at all is the greatest accomplishment for me; I ‘ve been told many a time that I’m not good enough or that I simply won’t be able to do it, even that I wouldn’t originally get into University to study Drama. Proving these naysayers, teachers, supposedly higher-ups, and cynics wrong through sheer determination to do what I love most is the greatest accomplishment for me.
Tell me about what you’re working on now
Post-apocalyptic industrial Western ‘The Flock’ by Andrew Griffin for Steamwork films is one of my current projects in which I’m both acting and co-producing. We shot the proof-of-concept film a little while back with a fantastic team including: soundman/mixer/general genius Wayne Reay who is a godsend to any project, extremely talented actors Ben Manning, Tiana Rogers and Ruth Dargavel and up-and-coming Director of Photography Alex Powell. The team behind ‘The Seeing’ sizzlereel directed by Aoife O’Kelly which we shot last year are working their butts off to secure us the opportunity to shoot the full first series which Peter Slucock has written, and it genuinely deserves to be shot it’s such fantastic concept; I’m not just saying that because I want to play enigmatic shapeshifter The Lady with most badass costume and make-up EVER either! I also have a short sci-fi film called ‘Companions’ by Will Dennies coming up too and I really do have a soft spot for science fiction so I’m excited to get started on that finally. There is one more project which I have to keep under wraps right now but that’s a comedy and I really can’t wait until I can say more!
Who is your favourite actor and why?
Oohh difficult to narrow down but I think the top two are: Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson. They are mind-blowingly talented, consistently enjoyable, intelligent and unpredictable with acting choices and, I would argue, could do justice to any character.
Of all the roles you’ve played in the past, which is your favourite?
In upcoming thriller feature ‘The Great Charade’ by Rodeo and Dan Strange for Rodeax Ltd. I play Amara Giovanni. She’s narcissistic, ambitious to a fault, highly successful and the Queen of Hollywood. She’s also intelligent, strong and a survivor. She was both wonderful and a challenge to play and I hope I’ve done justice to her facets and story in the film. I can’t wait to see how people respond to her when the film is released later this year.
When you suffer a setback or you don’t receive the part you want, how does that emotionally affect you and how do you get over it?
I learnt pretty early on to not allow myself to get too attached to a role or a project until at least the call-back audition, though obviously some parts are harder to do this with than others! I train in Pilates, Yoga and mixed martial art Jeet Kune Do and I have a lot of hobbies. I find it best to focus on something else for an hour or so after a disappointment: get the adrenaline and endorphins pumping, increase my awareness and control of my breath and basically just let it go as best I can. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that it’s not the end of the world, there will definitely be other opportunities and there are so many factors that come into play when Casting Directors, Directors and Producers are deciding on an audition, an interview or a self-tape. As long as I know I’ve done my best and I’ve enjoyed creating the character even for that short amount of playing her I can shake it off reasonably well and start thinking about the next role.
How do you prepare yourself for any audition?
I research the company, the role should it need it then I break down the sides and/or script using actioning and objectives; each beat within the script, each thought underlying what the character is saying and doing and what they want to achieve in that particular moment, scene or the script overall. I listen to music I think the character would enjoy while doing so too. Then I get the script up and moving with a friend or family member reading the other part. I should take this moment to say thank you to everyone who has helped me in this: particularly my mum as she’s had to call me ALL the swear words and ready saucy scripts with me which is always hilarious and sometimes VERY awkward!! Thank you family, friends and readers! I appreciate you! Wearing shoes that I think the character would wear, sitting in the manner I think they would sit and feeling the character as she does when she’s actually doing whatever it is she’s doing in the scene. If I’m working in an accent I break it down with this, warm up and keep the accent going on the way to the audition; even ordering coffee in a café or on the bus, I’ve had a surprising number of free coffees given to me while using a General American – clearly a favoured accent among British coffee shop owners!!
How do you keep your spirits up when you haven’t had an audition in a while?
I haven’t really had this issue yet simply as I submit 24/7 so on average I have to get at least one audition or self-tape every few days. There are so many opportunities out there and I’m constantly on it, I might be a little addicted to it to be honest. Even on Christmas day both this year and the year previous I was prepping a monologue for a self-tape/scene for an audition. I enjoy it and do everything within my power to pursue it. If/when this issue does arise I’ll delve into my hobbies. When there’s a work lull rather than audition lull which does occur pretty much to schedule at certain points in the year, this is what I do to manage it and keep my spirits up. The martial arts really helps keep frustrating at bay!
How do you source your auditions? What routes do you take, how do you network? What websites would you recommend for other actors to use? What have you found to be helpful?
Spotlight, Casting Networks, Mandy, Auditionist are the main suspect,s though I get a lot of repeat work from people with whom I’ve worked before, I’ve been really lucky with this and worked with a lot of good people and teams. Social media is really useful and I have people contacting me who’ve seen my showreel or been recommended by a friend. It can be damaging if you’re focusing too much on what other people are sharing and doing, but I’ve gotten a lot of work through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I attend a fair amount of film festivals to support my films and the films of friends, which is great for meeting other people looking for actresses for a project or simply just to talk about film and feel inspired. The idea of actively ‘networking’ puts fear into the heart of many but if you see it as simply connecting with new people over projects about which you’re passionate it makes it a lot easier.
What honest advice would you give to other actors?
If it seems too good to be true it probably is; learnt that the hard way.
There will ALWAYS be more opportunities so don’t let one disappointment/mistake/somethingnot going the way you wanted feel like the end of the world, or the loss of your ‘one’ chance to get a break or succeed. It isn’t.
Don’t let the business side of the industry bog you down. The submissions, the marketing, the self-promotion, the applying to agents etc. etc. etc. It can feel soul destroying at times but the moments on set/on stage: when it genuinely feels like that is where you’re meant to be – it feels right, you’re completely feeling the character and the scene, and the bonding with your cast/crew/production team and sharing your passion with them and viewers/audience, and seeing a Director/Scriptwriter relishing you bring their creation to life all make it worth it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This business is tough but rewarding. I’m certainly not the ‘standard’ as it were by which to measure, everyone has different paths to achieve their goals in it. There isn’t one way to do it or to succeed. Nor would I consider myself having ‘made’ it. I’m very lucky to do what I do, to have had the opportunities I’ve had so far, to earn a living doing it and getting to act with so many talented and genuine people. Thank you very much for your interest in my acting career and I hope it continues for a good long while. I hope anyone who reads this achieves their goals whether those are acting/performing ones or otherwise too.
Thank you Bex, I hope we can work together soon!