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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Ash Girl

So I have a few friends in an upcoming Harbour Theatre production called 
The Ash Girl. 

First, there's Nicole Miller, she portrays the Ash Girl or Ashie. Nicole is a very talented make-up artist but this time she's not standing behind stage, making sure people look old when they're supposed to and not shiny when they're not supposed to. No! Nicole is putting all her charm and vulnerability on the stage. I can't wait to see her awesome performance as The Ash Girl! Everyone who's seen a preview is seriously impressed!

Then we meet Teigan Isobel (credited as Teigan Downing, just to confuse you, Harbour likes to disregard actors' stage names) as Gluttontoad. I can assure you that Teigan is anything but gluttonous or toad-like. I met Teigan on a set shooting a party scene for a feature film. Unlike the complaining and sour-faced Molly Kerr, Teigan was jolly and enthusiastic and friendly through the entire shoot. I'm sure that the Harbour cast and crew have had just as much of a hoot working with her on stage!

And speaking of a 'hoot'... the man playing Owl is the one and only Trevor Dhu! I played alongside Trevor in Jane Eyre and Trevor directed me in The 39 Steps and I got to watch two of his wonderful perfomances. One was as Bondi Bitch in Ladies Down Under, directed by Peter Kirkwood and the other was at the Melville, Life After George, where he played the title character's best friend and the confidante of the lovely ladies he left behind. This is something that carries into reality, as Trevor always has everyone's back.

If these local legends fail to whet your appetite for theatre, maybe this media release will... :D

Directed by Nicola Bond and Peter Kirkwood

Enter a world of mythical proportions with a Fairy in the Mirror, a handsome Prince, brave field mice, and a stepmother with only the best of intentions. Olivier and New York drama Critic’s Award winner, British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker has written an expansive adaptation of the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella. This exciting Australian Premiere production that is Harbour Theatre’s final season for 2012, is being brought to life by the award winning directorial team of Peter Kirkwood and Nicola Bond whose previous directing credits include the Harbour Theatre smash hits Ladies Day & Ladies Down Under, Oliver Twist, Sleeping Beauty, Dracula, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights to name but a few.

The story of Cinderella has never been so strongly conceived! The Ash Girl is a rich folk tale with hints of allegory, myth and fantasy. There’s still a slipper, a Prince and a wish-granting Fairy, but the journey to the Royal Ball is fraught with danger. Only when she finds the strength to confront the monsters lurking in the forest—and in her heart—will Ash Girl regain her missing happiness.

Best director award winner Kirkwood and Bond say “The monsters that The Ash Girl must confront in order to find happiness are those which lurk inside all of us and these days particularly young people making this story a fable for our times.” 

Nicole Miller (from South Fremantle) is delighted to have been chosen to play the part of The Ash Girl from over 40 auditionees and states “The Ash Girl is a complex character with many of the challenges that Ashie has faced in the past and continues to face, so applicable to young people of today. This role is very different to the Good Fairy that I portrayed in Sleeping Beauty for Harbour Theatre in 2008 and is very exciting for me. Over the past few years I have qualified as a Make-up artist and have therefore been behind the scenes for a lot of Harbour’s productions. This time I can put away my greasepaint and brushes and enjoy being on stage.”

Bond and Kirkwood add “The cast of over twenty people that we have selected have embraced all facets of this complex production with enthusiasm and commitment. They bring to life the humour and the dark realities of this rich fairy story with huge amounts of talent and energy. This is a show not to be missed”.

The Ash Girl plays at Harbour Theatre on November 30th, December 1st, 5th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th & 15th @ 8.00pm with matinees on Sunday December 2nd and 9th @ 2.00pm.

Bookings through Ticketek – www.ticketek.com.au $24.50 full, $22.50 concession and $19.50 f./T Student and child < 15. Members bookings 9433 6260 or email tickets@harbourtheatre.org.au

For further information on this and other Harbour Theatre productions as well as membership enquiries visit www.harbourtheatre.org.au

2013 in Harbour Theatre’s 50th anniversary of entertaining the community – if you want to find out how to be a part of this important milestone visit our website.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

"Sorry Red Camera Operator, We Can't Pay You!"

Actual quote.

Or near enough to the actual quote to make my point. (And possibly get me sued?)

Now, it's important to note that actors will work for free (or for food) when they feel they are part of a team and that everyone is putting in the same commitment for the same reward. Usually this is a non-monetary sense of achievement and a beautiful, or at least passable, piece of art that will last for as long as digital does. If the creator needs to pay a specialty service to like a lepidopterist or something, to make the project happen then the actors are really likely to understand and not feel ripped off. But why should one person that contributes to the film significantly, like an actor, not get paid for the benefit of another team member, like a Red camera operator?

The context of this 'actual quote' is an online discussion of the logistics of paying one's actors. The person who said this was using a slippery slope fallacy... or possibly a straw man fallacy (I can't remember, it's been years since my first year philosophy unit, Critical Thinking, introduced me to all these terms) to conclude that it's better not to pay your actors, just in case it leads to not being able to pay your crew. Or even more devastatingly, not being able to pay yourself.

All hell broke lose. Actors everywhere suddenly erupted into diatribes of indignation against the stand that this producer was taking at our expense. The actors decided en masse to join the MEAA and boycott any producers that thought it was okay to exploit their passion and commitment for their own personal financial gain (or puffed up reputation with their film-making buddies). There were online protests and a few public demonstrations when actors were told they 'wouldn't find work in this town again, partner' because of their lack of cooperation with the unjust and corrupt system. The original forum went into meltdown, trying to cope with the traffic between angry actors fighting courageously for their right to share in the booty and the producer who, I'm sure innocently, suggested that actors really don't count in the creative process enough to count in the budget. Finally lawyers had to get involved when actors started sending the producer bits of their flesh, scabs and dead skin, in a symbolic gesture. 'No more blood and tears for you, Mr. Producer, Sir,' the dried up flesh seemed to say.

Oh, wait. Sorry. I'm mistaken. That didn't happen at all.

A couple of screenwriters stood up for actors: suggested that it was reasonable for actors to at least ask, on the projects for which they were being expected to offer their time and talent for free, whether anyone else was being paid. They were, rather predictably, berated by the producer and friends and accused of being communists. (Because that's a bad thing?)

Where were the actors? Did they stay silent? Did they watch nervously, reasonably concerned that any interest in money would make them undesirable for future casting? Did being a dime a dozen actor mean they settled for being a dozen actors per gratis? Did the actors secretly long for someone in the upper film-making echelons to stand up for them and say, 'wait, it's okay to want to be paid for your time and talent, especially when everyone else actually is being paid for your time and talent' and hope that the producers paused long enough to hear the growl of their starving bellies?

Actors' pay day.

No. The actors LIKED these comments.

Too bad these actors can't afford to put themselves through a critical thinking course. 

Extra Ordinary Bites.

"Whoops, we didn't organise enough food, umm..."

Maybe he was going to declare that he'd take us all to a nearby pub and pay the tab in apology for not catering for us properly. We could have chips and pies and dips. Mmmm... dips.

"...Take half of what you'd usually eat."

That was the organisational and problem solving skills of the Assistant Extras Coordinator from a filmset I was on recently.

To be fair, he was just the spokesperson, but I feel like shooting the messenger.

I already don't like being an extra. There I said it. My problems with it are as follows:

1. I'm not the main character.
This is challenging. I want people to notice me and preferably to adore me. If I'm just one of a crowd the chances of this are significantly reduced.

2. I'm not acting.
I want to be acting. I don't understand how texturing a background is required anywhere in an actor's apprenticeship. All it proves is they can stay positive in the face of absolutely demeaning treatment. (And I failed at this aspect, just ask the Extras Coordinators that have worked with me. I feel genuine pity for them by the five hour mark- that is five hours of being onset, ready to shoot, without having a camera pointed at me yet.)

3. I don't get anything out of it.
Oh, the networking, the new friendships, the experience. Those are great. I love those aspects of production, whatever sort of production I get them from. However, if I don't have at least thirty seconds of material to choose from for my showreel, I get kind of resentful. That resentment increases if I can't even promote my involvement in the production because anyone watching wouldn't have seen me at all. Why did I spend twenty hours on your set if no one was ever going to see me there?

So it's established. I don't like being an extra. Okay, sometimes I like being an extra. If you have me on set, working, straight away then I'm just happy to get to practice my craft. Also, if I get to wear cool make-up or costumes then you've probably bought yourself another two hours of contentment from me.

Though, I must be specific, this is only relevant for those unpaid extra roles. If you're paying me to be there, I'll pack you a lunch, if you like.

For unpaid work as an extra, I usually want to convert to Christianity so I can curse God to his face. But for whatever reason, up until recently, I've been under the impression that I need the experience of being an extra to improve my craft and the networking aspect to further my career. Even knowing that I would probably be invisible in the finished product, I've tried hard to get what I can out of the immediate experience.

One of the things I got out of the experience was FOOD!

Extra: will work for food!

It's really a very simple policy: feed me well on set.

Here are three hard and fast rules to go by if you're planning on having extras on your set. Unpaid extras, remember. If you're paying them then see what the union says. They're not my problem.

1. Any shoot under three hours- you can get away without feeding us so much as a breadcrumb. Any shoot three to five hours- please provide some refreshments. Any shoot between six and eight hours- you really must provide a substantial meal. Any shoot over eight hours- you really should provide a substantial meal and refreshments throughout. At all times provide water. And for goodness' sake, cater to vegetarians!

2. If for whatever reason you have failed to organise yourself properly and catering has failed to satisfy the hunger of your dedicated team of background texturers, DO NOT DISMISS THIS PROBLEM! You deserve to be mobbed and have a full-blown riot on your hands if you think that is an acceptable managing of affairs. Call the pizza place. Call the sandwich place. Call your mum. Call anybody! Put it on Tony Abbott's tab. Tell the director it was a magwie attack! Do anything. But don't leave your extras hungry, man. That's not on.

3. If for whatever reason you suck and are NOT catering, you MUST tell the extras when they are signing up. Don't let them come unprepared. The day before the shoot you should remind them so they can get their mum or boyfriend or trained platypus to pack them the meals you should have been providing. If you aren't providing water, let them know this, too. You may have fewer extras for your honesty, sure, but on the other hand, people that volunteer to be extras are often in it out of a sense of altruism or a misguided idea that it might be fun or beneficial to them (admittedly, most of the extras I've come across have seemed happy just to be there. It kind of makes me feel bad for being such a misery guts but the chip on my shoulder is there for a reason). Exploit these characteristics to your benefit and the fact that you aren't feeding them could become a real gimmick to attract their attendance.

So that's it. You've learnt that I'm not in the slightest bit altruistic and that I like to eat. Maybe I should censor myself a bit more effectively?

Catering suggestion for your next production.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Triple Threats

This year I have met a lot of talented people. Last year, too.

At the end of 2011 I was introduced to the term "triple threat." Apparently, this is someone that can sing, dance and act.

However, I have met people that are multitalented and creative in other ways that deserve the recognition of this coveted title.

Let me introduce you to a few.


 Sarah Cosstick has been singing and dancing onto our musical theatre stages for years! I first met Sarah during the rehearsal period for The 39 Steps, directed by Trevor Dhu, where she portrayed Margaret, the crofter's wife, and Mrs. Jordan. She also sang live and choreographed not only her own original dance piece for the West End Music Hall scenes but a two person dance for herself and her on-stage husband, Christopher Kenworthy. Sarah ensured the quality of her performance by rehearsing before the show started each evening and raised the morale of the cast by baking delicious cupcakes for us! Sarah was directed by Trevor Dhu, again, in West Side Story, starring as Maria and received great reviews for her role as Cosette in Les Miserables, directed by Eileen Frith.


The 2007 WA Screen Award for Directing was awarded to Christopher Kenworthy for Some Dreams Come True. Christopher has two Master Shots volumes to his name, with expert cinematography techniques and tips. He has written screenplays, plays, short stories, poems, novels, instructional guides, online tutorials and blogs. He also draws, sculpts, paints and photographs. Oh and he's a magician, he performed in a whole bunch of magic shows with Matt Penny at The Blue Room over the years. The first time I met Chris, he told me he worked with software. At that point he was portraying Edward Rochester for a Nicola Bond directed production of Jane Eyre. He went on to portray Professor Jordan in The 39 Steps, along with dizzying array of other characters. He is a professional freelance creative.


Meet the director of my latest short film and the make-up artist that created the creepy zombie face that scared the wits out of the children I live with. Natalie is an ECU film student and a director, videographer and self-taught make-up artist. (Natalie is gorgeous and I could have shown you that, but this photo demonstrates her FIRST attempt to do zombie make-up, on herself, and I wanted you to see the impressive results.) She will pursue her career in London and South Africa, where she is interested in creating promotional documentaries for local industries. As a director, Natalie is very aware of the camera and her actors. She balances team work and leadership. As an actor you always feel like you're in safe hands, working with Natalie. If you want to see what she can do with a camera when left to her own devices visit her blog.

There are so very many more people that I want to introduce you to, and I will. But I need to get their permission first so you will just have to wait. But trust me, this town is brimming with talent and these people are a pleasure to work with, I hope you will be as lucky as me in the near future as you indulge your passion for performing and creating. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012


The affectionate nicknames I received from the little people that I live with includes the devastating title Jar Jar Binks (the clumsy Star Wars alien).

It was well earned. I have a bruise the size of a twenty cent coin on my shoulder from running into a door frame. I am the victim of countless inanimate object attacks. The first kitchen item to be dropped and smashed in this house was a glass filled with water that I somehow knocked over from about a metre away by waving my hand slightly.

Yesterday, I was shooting a zombie scene for a student film in a kitchenwares store (they were a really accommodating store and deserve a box of chocolates). I had make-up and cloudy eyes that made me a driving hazard, and I was gurgling my spit in my throat to get into character, even though no sound was being recorded. I started limiting my thoughts to "brains, brains, brains, br..."

The first AD gave us some facetious directions. He jokingly told us to be more aggressive in our attack of the hapless protagonist. My acting instincts kicked in and I gave it a go, before I even knew what I was doing, I was swiping at the actor, growling and thinking, "Eat brains, get in the head, eat brains, eat brains, eat..." when out of nowhere, a cookbook flew off the shelf and landed on the floor with a thud.

Was that me?

Yes. Yes, it was me. I had swiped the book off the display shelf and everyone froze in disbelief at my stupidity and then groaned. I picked up the book, inspected it and then held it up triumphantly declaring, "Look, it's not at all damaged."

"Moron," came the reply from the shop owner.

Oh, how we laughed (and I died a little inside).

We all recovered quickly and finished the very well organised and stylish looking shoot.

This morning, one of the younglings (a very talented young actress) decided to show me how she can shoot me with a bow and arrow in the throat. As she pulled the imaginary arrow out of her hypothetical quiver her elbow went back and knocked over one or two ornaments on top of a bookshelf that she was standing in front of. I giggled. Then I shared the above story in communion with the young actor.

It's nice to know that accidents like these are just the natural consequence of having committed and enthusiastic actors on set. I am working on my spatial awareness but I prize my imagination and commitment over my ability to not disturb things. I don't ever want to be responsible for damaging equipment, that would be heartbreaking, but I more often get away with my enthusiasm than not.

I hope you'll still hire me! 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Music Video Vixen Molly

Or so I'm called by Jef with One F in his review of a recent music video that I was featured in.

The music video was for Philco Fiction track 'Help' which was released earlier this year.

Directed by Christopher Kenworthy, the video features me flouncing around the outback chasing a bird. It was a lot of fun to shoot and Chris was, as always, a lot of fun to work with. He had swine flu, was carrying all the equipment by himself up cliff sides and still managed to come up with something that I'm exceedingly proud of.

Earlier this year Jef reviewed another music video that Chris directed and filmed. This one was for Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri's 'Naked.' I was a theatre actor turned gypsy dancer.

"Kerr plays a role to the hilt. While lost in her performance, at times her presence on the stage registers near-orgasmically on her face, but she never loses the edge of fear for a second: Fear of discovery, fear of mockery, maybe even fear of living a life too afraid to ever really stand up and demand a place. She never seems to overcome that fear; she simply incorporates it into her own beauty."

Before working with Chris, I worked with Anthony Vallejos on a Nevsky Prospekt music video called 'Top Marks For Treachery' in which I played a vengeful girlfriend to Aaron Hughes.

Since working with Chris, I was an extra in an End of Fashion music video directed by Kal Englishby at the WA Screen Academy, where I met so many talented actors and was exposed to Capoiera, a really beautiful cross between martial arts and dance.

I recently featured as the girlfriend of Bill Marri in his track 'Hit Ya Baby.'  A bunch of my acting friends agreed to turn up as extras in the street party. The various excuses for not turning up included:
'I forgot.'
'That's next weekend.'
'That's tomorrow.'
'I got my wisdom teeth out.'
'It's too far away.'
(This is why you should offer the incentive of payment to extras!)
But I think that director, Adrian Prospero, was able to create a slick party atmosphere, anyway. If you're interested Bill is planning on shooting a further two videos in November and wants as many extras as possible.

Soon, a friend of mine, Moazam Mirza, is planning on releasing a video for his track 'Aa Bhi Jaa' and he's asked me to feature in it.

So... if you have a video that needs a vixen... drop me a line.

I can also talk. And read scripts. Just in case you've got a role in mind that requires those particular skills. Visit www.mollykerractor.com to view my showreel and stay tuned as we cut a WHOLE NEW showreel together before your tax return is due. 

Crying On Camera

Other than aesthetically, I don't see the point of crying on camera.

I mean, good for you if you can, but crying isn't the point, surely?

A few months ago I filmed a sort of stand-alone scene of a monologue I had written along the lines that the director and editor had prescribed. It was very clear to me that my character would be hysterical under these circumstances. It was equally clear to me that they would cry.

I have never, ever cried on cue before.

I cry all the time when I'm trying not to. I am a huge cry baby. My mum would call me Ophelia when I was growing up!

For a particular theatre production early last year, I spent the whole rehearsal period desperately trying to cry on stage, on cue. I was so frustrated and disappointed in myself when I had to resort to sort-of-sobbing to convey the emotion. I would have preferred to avoid that altogether but it was the director's direction that I break down at that point, regardless of my ability or lack thereof.

For this film, I spent the entire rehearsal period refining the monologue and making character choices. I made the mistake of being a bit precious about my monologue and I think I would have it edited ruthlessly by a third party if I were going to do it again. But that's beside the point. The point is: I didn't practice crying. I tried. I would get the moist eyes and I'd squeeze out the cloud of a tear and then I'd be dry as a cat's tongue. I just couldn't inspire myself in any way to wetly manifest the sense of hysteria, shame and anguish that my character would experience in this scene.

This Magic Troll has more emotional depth than I do!

I drove to the shoot, which was in Mandurah. I spent the entire drive running my lines, even though I got to read half of them off the page as I was performing (makes sense in context). And I screamed. I howled. I sobbed. I thought of every sad thing, every heartbreak, every misery that I could remember (I have quite the store) and when I started to feel sensible again, I would smack myself in the face.

Yes! Extreme, but I was a character performing a heinous task under duress. I think a smack in the face is the least I could do to inform my performance.

I listened to melancholy or angry music and then I pulled up at the hotel and parked. I had to ask the hotel staff where to go for the shoot and I must've looked a right mess!

I felt fragile, I felt broken, I felt goddamned annoyed that I couldn't find a place of solitude to maintain my sense of loss and isolation. Instead, I had to snap out of it as I asked about costume choices and make-up. I talked to the crew in a sort of bad tempered way which made everyone skittish or grumpy around me, because I started to get into the zone again. I started to shake. I couldn't manage a smile. I felt thoroughly and genuinely depressed. And my throat hurt from all the emo singing (and the flu I'd caught that day that was incubating in my glands). I sat down to perform, not sure if I could quite manage the hysteria and suffering I'd summoned on my trip down to the shoot.

Then as I delivered my monologue, I cried. Actual, wet tears fell from my eyes and I blubbered like a woman condemned to die. I couldn't quite believe it. I had done it. I cried on cue. Right when I wanted to cry, I did.

I couldn't help but be pleased with myself for accomplishing something I never thought would be personally possible. I was immediately a lot friendlier to the crew upon the director calling 'cut!' They were a nice crew, too.

It doesn't matter that you can't tell that I was actually crying in the scene and it seems like I'm fake crying. Okay, it matters a little. But only aesthetically, for future reference. So I can figure out how to approach the camera and adapt my performance to suit it. It doesn't matter because in the process of trying to cry on cue I actually learnt a lot more about how to access emotions, that for reasons I don't understand yet, are very heavily protected when I'm on stage or screen.

Here I am. Willing to look silly for my craft. 

I have such incredible armour when I'm performing that I find it hard to recall genuine emotions. I'm always at risk of indicating or having a rather limited range, because I can't remember how I feel when I'm sad. My imagination, which works overtime when I'm anxious or excited, becomes utterly remote from me when I am acting. Until that shoot. The preparation I did for that shoot somehow damaged that armour so badly that now I can access my genuine emotions, connected to my imagination, very easily. (There is still arduous preparation and psychic skinning before filming but I feel relaxed and I'm not result oriented.) I can cry on cue, but I don't have to. The crying isn't important. If I can't cry, that's okay, because I have found a way to express deep emotional experiences to my other actors and to the audience, anyway. I am not seeking a particular result anymore, which inexplicably makes it easier to follow my whims, and cry.

Whether or not I have tears, I have organic emotion.

Nonetheless, how great is it that I can cry on cue now, huh? 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

So much to tell you!

Yep it's been a while. Lots of stuff to tell you. But I won't.

I will tell you lots, eventually, whether or not you care to read it. The beauty of the blog.

But right now I want to do a call out to other actors about a possible networking idea.

It goes something like this:

I have a file full of business cards of make-up artists, actors, writers, directors, technicians etc. I would like to enrich this file with head-shots, showreels, portfolios and CVs. I will contact those featured in this file and ask what projects they would have an interest in being involved in. Would I have permission to circulate their details to various production companies, whether professional, commercial, student or independent? Would they forward on the contact details of more industry-related persons who would like to be featured in this file? Once the file is validated with everyone's consent, I would copy it and provide it to the universities, most of which currently have no system for storing such information. One file would be a useful resource for each head of Media and Film. I would offer a copy to the two main casting agencies, who already have access to represented actors and accept the details of unrepresented actors, but who may benefit from a resource that would include references, reviews and other feedback from peers and colleagues who have already worked with these actors.

It would be a bit like a casual staff list. A no-obligation compendium of casts and crews who can be called upon to help out if they are inclined. Actors could access the file to review a crew they've worked with. Crews could access the file to review an actor they've worked with. This could lead to petty grudges but hopefully, ideally, would actually lead to people lifting their game. No doing coke in the toilets the night before a shoot. No turning up two hours late because you wanted a latte. No saying you'll go to the audition and then forgetting to let them know you can't make it because you're too busy trying to cast your current project!

That last scenario would be completely avoidable because your producer would have a file with a whole city's worth of actors and you wouldn't be required to do the producer's job.

It could be copied and added to at each project, with cast and crew submitting their professional portfolios to that particular file, with a central database to update your copy of the file so that everyone always has FREE access to who is working locally and how they are working.

Or it could just be one file that one person (currently me) looks after and updates but that is borrowed by actors and crews so that they can find that special someone to make their production smashing. Directors, writers and producers and casting agents looking for actors would have a section in the file so that they can make their general interest known, or they could submit casting calls for long term projects.

I think it would be beneficial for actors to have access to other actors who are willing to curry favour and work on their projects at short notice for no pay and little credit and great inconvenience just so their production doesn't get cancelled. This charity will no doubt be returned when the need arises. If not directly, then at least in a karmic sense!

I see a lot of potential in this concept. It is a baby-concept and needs to be refined beyond the point of recognition, perhaps, but I want feedback. If this idea appeals to you, if you have any suggestions or if you think you might just like to add your name to the list of contacts that I have, please get in touch.

Contact me here or Facebook