Interviewee: Jon Campling
Job Title: Actor
Credits Include: Harry Potter & The Deathly
Hallows (Parts 1&2), The Underwater Realm, Jonathan Creek
Interview Date: July 2013
Q. Hi Jon,
give us a little background on yourself before you became an actor
(degree, relevant work experience, interests, etc)
A. Watcha! My story begins in Hull, I
accidentally landed a job for life with British Aerospace. Dammit!
I only filled in the application form to keep my Dad happy, I
was struggling at school not helped by my undiagnosed dyslexia
meaning I was flunking nearly every subject because of 'poor spelling
and grammar' including subjects I was actually VERY good at like
the sciences and IT (or computer studies as it was called in the
80`s). I had the Bae job before I finished my exams so they where
stress free and I left school at 16 with 4 CSE #1's and a couple
of #2's an `O` level ungraded and a 16+ (whatever that even was)
and... a much sort after apprenticeship with a top local employer.
Q. And how
did you get into acting?
A. I had always wanted to act, odd for
a working class lad from 'ull with no family history of performing
arts at all. My school had no drama so my mum got me to join the
local am-dram club they where great, then a fight over a girl
with a lad I met via CB radio (hey it was big in the 80's) led
to me joining Hull Truck Youth Theatre and that led to a gradual
escape plan via a grant and drama school.
Q. You came
into acting in adult life, is it difficult to get started with
no prior experience?
A. I graduated when I was 25 so not too
late and I actually found having had a life between education
and Drama school was really helpful, I got a lot out of my 3 years
at BSA. Graduating from an accredited course gives you total legitimacy
as an actor you then just need the breaks.
Q. How and
why did you make the jump from day job to drama school?
A. The only way I could justify giving up the
job at Bae was to swap it for some form of security and so a 3
year drama school course was always my only option and I really
wanted that experience, a chance to re-do some education but on
my terms with no one caring if I could spell or not, just endless
hands on acting.
Q. Is acting
something that is innate, learnt, or a mixture of both?
A. Hmmm good question, I think it can
be both and certainly some people are just naturally gifted with
an ability to manifest a character and a set of emotions and reactions
so sublimely without any training, other like myself have a certain
natural ability but have benefited from a professional training.
Of course some people are just naturally terrible and ain't no
amount of training gonna fix that (they usually don't realise
it themselves tho so shhh).
preparation do you do for each new role?
A. Fairy boring stuff really, its just
an endless exercise in immersion. Exposing oneself to as many
aspects of the characters world and experiences as you possibly
can until their world feels as familiar as your own... easy.
Q. Is there
a difference between screen acting and stage acting? If so how?
A. I find there is, acting for camera
has to take into account the camera and its perspective both in
the prismatic manner that it may be re-interpreting, reducing
or magnifying your performance and on a purely practical level
of how much you can move your head say to not leave the frame,
then there is eyeline and mark hitting, I find it a LOT harder
as there are so many things happening around you that can make
it hard to feel the characters world is real, also the non linear
stop/start nature. Theatre is geared toward an actors needs films
is most definitely not.
well known for your long hair and sculpted beard, does this have
a strong bearing on the roles you get offered?
A. It does but in a thoroughly excellent
way, I now play characters who are enormous fun from Pirates to
cowboys, gods to demons, Death eaters to Jesus as well as teachers,
warriors, and all manner of BAD men. Who all have 2 things in
common the look great with long hair and a beard.
Q. Do you
think your look has created yourself a niche or put you at risk
A. Ha ha well I am and am not type cast
as the list above shows, yes I ONLY play guys with Long hair and
beards but its a very very VERY varied list to choose from, and
they are nearly always visually striking and narratively interesting
so I have no complaints and my keratin based rise is set to continue.
Q. If you
could have played any role in any movie which one would it be?
A. Alex in A Clockwork Orange - I played
him in a theatrical tour when I was about 26 (to great acclaim
from fans of the book who flocked to see it). It was when the
film was still withdrawn in the UK and very much a cult and an
enigma. As research I read the book (after learning the language)
and... managed to obtain a LAZER DISC copy of the film from france
lol. The film is still relevant, ground breaking, shocking and
intense to this day and to have created such an iconic role must
be unimaginably special.
Q. How important
is it to have an agent? Does an actor really even need one or
can they self represent perfectly well?
A. Essential. You can self represent but
when things can get VERY `Contractual` and its great to not have
to worry about that, and to have someone pitching you for projects
you as an actor just don't get to hear about. Its much easier
to find some work without an agent now thanks to the internet
but the ideal scenario is still to be represented.
Q. If actors
have representation should they sometimes accept roles they find
themselves outside of that?
A. Every actor and agent is different
for me, I needed an agent who wanted to work with me as a team
to find me the kind of work I want to do and that includes work
I find myself or that I am approached directly to do and my agent
trust that if I want to accept some of those then I will have
a good reason. Be it just the experience, or to work with the
director or DOP or to explore an aspect of my performance I've
not previously had an opportunity to stretch or just because I
think it will amazing fun. He trusts me and knows it will all
add up in the long game.
Q. How important
is it for an actor to be a member of Equity and / or Spotlight?
A. Spotlight is an absolute essential
simply because with out it no respectable agent will give you
representation, Equity is advisable but not a hard fast requirement,
tho it is good value as it also provides essential insurance cover
while you rehearsing/performing should you injure anyone.
Q. As a UK
actor, how important is it to be based in London?
A. I have found it imperative and I like
London but you can be based in Manchester or Bristol or Birmingham,
all have their own acting community and work or just within commute
distance of London. It is still true though that many regional
companies still hold there casting in london.
Q. What draws
you to a project?
A. A uniqueness, a danger, a sense of
ambition a challenge an opportunity to grow and to push my self
to learn new things and to experience the as yet experienced...
to be taken beyond my comfort zone, to work with people who make
me have to run as fast as I can just to keep up.....and to have
worked on both low budget independent feature films and big budget
blockbusters, how does working on them compare?
A. Sometimes vastly and sometimes, oddly
not much at all. Budget and professionalism are not related and
some of the fully paid pro stuff I have done has been badly organised
with unprofessional people treating me badly, and some of the
lowest budget jobs I've done I have been treated so well and by
people who were so exceptionally lovely. You can never tell, FACT
'professional' is an ATTITUDTE NOT a budget.
Q. As an
actor when you first become involved with a new project are you
able to get an inkling as to whether or not the final film will
be a work of genius or a complete turkey? Are there prior steps
you can take to ensure you only get involved with quality projects?
A. Ha great question, I think about this
a lot, especial on lower budget shoots because you don't want
to waste your time when the payment IS the product! You want to
chose projects where that payment is gonna be high. I have found
the best way is to see the Companies or the directors previous
work and use that as a measure of their ability to turn a script
into a great film. This is getting easier and easier as more and
more people have their work on line, tho less so for theatre then
your looking at reviews and they... well they are anything but
an exact science.
are many lo/no-budget productions, the quality of the final film
can often be very high, however no-one is getting paid –
should actors work for no money or below Equity minimum?
A. I have always felt that this up to
the individual, no one size fits all rule. In an ideal world we
would all be paid when ever we worked and we can long for that
day to come but in the meantime for me, I am willing to consider
any project and as long as it is genuinely Collaborative and not
Exploitative and IF there is something (other than cash) that
I can take from it as payment, i.e. something that has value FOR
ME then yeah I will consider doing it.. I will want to know that
the `ATTITUDE` is professional and that no one is being paid or
making profit from it.
Q. You also
do a lot of photography in your spare time, does this understanding
of cameras and imagery help you as a film actor?
A. Yes I feel it does It helps me understand
what the DOP is thinking or trying to achieve it means I can talk
the same language about lens choice etc for a given shot and adjust
my performance instinctively to match. It has also allowed me
to take my own personal PR photographer with me to every job I
ever do :) Armed with a DSLR or a Smart phone it allows me to
keep the media hungry social network profiles fed with cool, high
impact images that help remind potential employers of the huge
variety of roles a long haired bearded man can play.
Q. Do actors
make good directors?
A. I think so, I've been directed by a
few and its always worked out well, most recently my brother-in-law
James Card in a an entry for the ShortCuts to Hell competition
(Six 2nds To Die).
Q. Who would
be your top 3 directors you would like to work with?
A. Aaargh I hate lists... the logical
side of me simply refuse to place in order things that are by
definition not comparable. And they are really only used in magazines
and media for easy guaranteed controversy lol but just for you
I will force my self. The Soska sisters are horror of directors
I REALLY want to work with so that's 1 (kinda). Director Steve
McQueen!! The guy is amazing, and lets see one more from the hundreds.....
and hundreds..... Gerard Johnson the director of Tony or Shane
Meadows or Jamin Winans writer/director of a very impressive 1st
3 actors do you admire most?
A. HMMMM more list! I very much enjoy
the work of... Paddy Considine, Chris Cooper aaaand... David Threlfall
who i saw as Smike in the RSC's Nicholas Nickleby on CH4 when
i was 16. I was blown away.
Q. The internet
has changed the game over the past 15 years or so, how important
is it for actors to publicise themselves and have a social media
presence or is this best left to your agent?
A. Unless you are getting more work than
you want every actor should be taking advantage of the internet/social
media to get free PR, its becoming the norm and those actors not
bothering will find they are losing out. You NEVER know where
how or in what format a potential employer is going to be exposed
to YOUR WORK and you need to do all you can to end up in front
of them and if its free and self executable then what stopping
you? Get a professional profile on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube,
Vimeo, Spotlight, IMDB, a www.yourname.com website and a blog...
THE INTERNET IS NOT A FAD! Use it! LOL.
Q. Do you
forsee the day when actors are completely replaced with CGI or
will there always be a human element necessary that can’t
A. Probably :( if it saves money and audiences
don't complain. Siiigh.
Q. Do you
have any advice for someone starting out as an adult actor with
no prior industry experience?
A. Train, learn what it means to be professional!
Blagging only gets ya so far. Expect to NOT work, so have another
way of earning money. Make sure its what you want or the sacrifices
probably are not worth it. Remember when 30 actors go for 1 role
29 can't possibly get it no matter how good they are :) Do your
tax, and.... have an amazing time being an actor its an awesome
adventure living bits of other people lives as a job.
Many thanks for your time
Jon, we look forward to seeing more of you on the big screen.
Your very very welcome... As a ten year old actor/writer/director
said to me recently... WAHOOO!
- Jon's latest film Apocalypse
Z (formally 'Zombie Massacre')
is now available in the UK to buy on Amazon
Jon's Contact Details:
Jon's Agent Contact Details:
Agent: Williams Bulldog Management
Contact Name: Dom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7585 1518