Recognise this face? Fans of cult hit The Wire will. We recently caught up with actor, producer and writer Andre Royo to discuss his role in the acclaimed film Calloused Hands (Woolfcub Productions). The film, tells the story of 12-year-old Josh, a mixed race boy growing up in Miami who lives under the oppressive weight of his abusive step-father. He manages to forge his own path in life when his estranged grandfather insists he study for his Bar Mitzvah. In this SceneProfiles, Andre talks about playing the character Byrd, the impact that his cultural identity has had on his career as well as life after The Wire.
Firstly, what attracted you to this role?
After working on a show like The Wire, the idea of playing the lead character in a movie was just the challenge I wanted.; especially when a director was putting his own true story of abuse and hardship on screen, trusting me to help tell his story. I thought Jesse was doing a courageous thing. The intense struggle of raising a kid, the highs and lows of wondering how to motivate and push a child to reach his or her potential, dealing with the pain of lost dreams and the struggles of substance abuse –it was the challenge of getting it right that first opened my eyes to the project.
There are many themes in Calloused Hands – from the nightmare of failed dreams through to culture and identity. How have these themes been relevant in your own life and career?
My whole life has been about chasing a dream with no safety net. All or nothing. And there were times where ‘nothing’ is all I saw. I was never totally outside myself to see how I handled my own failure at times. Plus being a mixed kid and raising my own daughter who is also mixed, I felt it was important to get a chance to act out some personal fears through the character of Byrd.
Every year, Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims take part in Ramadan. For one whole month from dawn to dusk, they forgo food, water, smoking and swearing – in an attempt to focus on what’s important, think about those who have less than them and better appreciate what they have. This year, Channel 4 will be there to capture these experiences and mark the month in a special Ramadan season.
During Ramadan, life has to carry on as normal – working in mentally and physically demanding environments and raising families. Channel 4 will follow and hear from a range of British Muslims throughout Ramadan, on how they cope with daily life and the physical and spiritual effects of fasting – as they go through it.
The season will include stand-alone commissions, daily series, and will mark early morning prayers, with interactive elements and online content available for Muslim and non-Muslim viewers keen to engage with and learn more about the Ramadan experience.
Short films will be broadcast every day using a mixture of self-shot video diaries and documentary, with a different contributor sharing their experiences – whether they are feeling calm, frustrated, or energised without food and drink, and whether their day involves breaking up street brawls, carrying out brain surgery or caring for their children. Each short film will aim to offer a fresh perspective on Ramadan and the lives of British Muslims.
Youngers is a brand new 8-part drama due to start on E4 on 20 March. Starring ex-Hollyoaks actor Calvin Demba and newcomer Ade Oyesofo, Youngers follows two friends as they complete their GCSEs and pursue a career in the music industry while 'the ends', girls and parents form challenging roadblocks.
The drama, which was filmed in Peckham, is written by Levi David Addai (My Murder), Georgia Lester (Skins) and Mark Catley (Casualty) and comes to E4 via Big Talk Productions. It features a host of new talent including YouTube stars Mandem on the Wall. Good news already – the series has been picked up for international distribution by BBC Worldwide.
Check out the trailer above and make sure you tune in.
The Network is a practical training scheme by the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival that gives new talent a taster of what it's really like to work in TV.
At The Network you will…
* Learn the key ingredients for getting your first TV job
* Discover just how many opportunities there are in TV
* Understand what people in TV do
* Learn practical skills, like how cameras work
* Meet and learn from fantastically talented TV types and some celebs too
* Get the opportunity to question TV execs who have the power to give you a job
See below for the steps:
For even more info and to apply, click here. The deadline for applications is 21 April 2013.
Jump Off TV and Talented & Young have partnered up to bring you an 8 Week Acting Course; Actors Lounge
A new 8 week acting class with a difference, Actors Lounge is a chance for actors to learn about different genres, character development, bringing scripts to life and much more. Actors Lounge will enable you to have master classes with top british actors, writers and casting directors. At the end of the 8 weeks you will have a chance to showcase your talent before an audience of key industry influencers.
Places are limited so all candidates must attend an audition on Saturday 6th October
Start date: Oct 2012 (every saturday for 7 consecutive weeks)
Class time: 1-3pm or 4-6pm (choice of 2 classes)
Week 8 will be a live performance/monologue in a theatre.
Your live performance will be videoed and uploaded to a YouTube channel of your choice.
Location: Jump Off TV Studios, Kings Cross
Fee £200+vat (payment is required upfront)
Channel 4 has claimed its coverage of the Paralympics, which reached 37 million people and nearly doubled its average viewing share, has helped change public perception of disability. The broadcaster cited audience research that revealed 65% of viewers (from a sample of 1,833) felt the coverage of the Paralympics has had a favourable impact on their perceptions towards people with disabilities, while 80% enjoyed seeing disabled presenters on screen. Half of viewers said it was the first Paralympics they had ever watched and 67% said they watched more than they expected to.
Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, said: "I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring a new audience to the Paralympics and, more importantly, that our coverage has played a part in delivering a lasting legacy in changing people’s perceptions of both disability and disabled sport."
The broadcaster claims its coverage of the Games up to Thursday 6 September reached 37 million people, which compared to the 51.9 million people who watched at least 15 minutes of the BBC's Olympic Games coverage. C4 is claiming an average all-day share of 11.6% across the nine days of the Games, which is 82% higher than its 12-month average share.
The Paralympics opening ceremony was watched by a peak audience of 11.2 million viewers, including Channel 4 +1 figures, and Jonnie Peacock’s gold medal win in the T44 100 metres attracted the biggest ever Paralympic sports audience in the UK with a peak of 6.3 million viewers.
Channel 4 was so keen to secure the Paralympics that it bid £9m for the television rights, which is believed to be three times the amount offered by the BBC. It expected to broadcast 150 hours of live coverage and 500 hours of total coverage over the event.
Check out this video below where Paralympic Blogger James Ballardie discuss the issue of disability on the Channel 4 News with activist and wannabe MP Adam Lotun.
What do you think; have your perceptions on disability changed? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter: @Scene_TV
Congratulations to British director and actor Noel Clarke who has joined the cast of the Star Trek sequel. In the film, which is due for release on May 17th 2013, Clarke will play a family man with a wife and daughter. There is very little further information available about his role. Fellow Brit Benedict Cumberbatch has also joined the cast and is set to play a villain as well as Simon Pegg and Alice Eve. Production is due to start next week.
Channel 4 is to launch 30 multiplatform-themed events across the UK in bid to discover new digital and converged TV content ideas.
The broadcaster will kick off the year-long events programme, called Fuel 4, next year for people who work in TV or digital production and development.
The aim of the events, which will span topics including games, social media, multiplatform fiction and connected TVs, is to promote understanding of how technologies are increasingly changing audience behaviour, along with the respective creative content opportunities.
Channel 4 is also offering a series of paid producer placements in TV and digital production teams. The scheme will see TV producers placed within digital agencies, while digital producers will be placed within traditional TV production houses.
Channel 4 Online business manager Jen Topping said, “The companies we work with have told us that they’d like to understand more about the scale and scope of creative opportunities there are around new technologies mixed with TV.
“We are committed to sharing as much insight as we can with both TV and digital producers, all with a hope that they will be inspired to bring new ideas to Channel 4 so we can commission them and get them on air,” she said. “This is especially for digital people who have never done TV before, or TV people with no experience of multiplatform.”
Channel 4 is working with creative development agency Ignite to run theFuel 4programme and will release further details regarding the initiative in the new year.
Fuel 4 conference programme
Evolution of entertainment and technology 19 January, London
Games 21 March, Glasgow
Factual June, Sheffield
Connected TVs 28 June, London
Social media 25 July, Brighton
Multiplatform fiction 26 September, Salford
UX and content experiences for televisions 7 November, Bristol
Dogwoof are proud to announce the UK premiere of Jarreth Merz’s An African Election will be held at the Rich Mix cinema on the 20th November. There will be a special introduction from Bafta award-winning actress Thandie Newton and the screening will be followed with a Q&A with the films director Jarreth Merz.
In a world plagued by stolen elections, secret government agendas, and a renewed interest in the exploitation of African natural resources, what value does democracy offer, particularly in the tumultuous region of West Africa? For Ghana, a nation that has been Africa’s barometer of political stability, democracy may mean the difference between peace and prosperity—and murderous chaos under military coup.
Director Jarreth Merz follows the key players of Ghana's 2008 presidential elections for almost three months to provide an unprecedented insider’s view of the political, economic and social forces at work in Ghana. He builds suspense by taking the viewer down the back roads of the nation to capture each unexpected twist and turn in a contest that is always exciting and never predictable. Throughout the film, Merz depicts the pride and humanity of the larger-than-life politicians, party operatives and citizens who battle for the soul of their country.
An African Election illuminates a beacon of hope for Africa and for the value and vitality of democracy today.
‘Gripping…thrilling, has impressive scope and a burning relevance’ The Hollywood Reporter
Tickets are £9.00 (£6.50 students and concessions). To book, click here.