karen bryson Tag

My First Film: Short Film • Zulu 9

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Zulu 9 directed by Alan Gilsenan

Recently I was kindly invited by actress Kate Braithwaite of Talkies Community Cinema to screen a short film I’d been in. This was part of their brilliant ‘Women in Shorts’ event celebrating local female creative talent. All films shown were to be followed by a Q&A with the teams involved.

My first thoughts were, how lovely, what a great idea! It soon grew into, what a great idea but…oh goodness I have to sit through watching myself on a big screen then talk about it. Horror!! After grabbling with my insecurities for a few days, I came up with another thought. Why not show the first film I’d ever done back in 2001 called Zulu 9 directed by the fantastic Alan Gilsenan? “Zulu” in this case being Police “slang” for Explosive materials.  I had only recently re-discoverd it on Vimeo a year ago. The perfect choice as it so wonderfully illustrates the power of film!

It was so strange to see it on a large screen and in front of an audience, these were firsts. Immediately after the screening the room was filled with the feeling of tense concentration which was palpable. The audience then slowly started to applaud after what seemed like a few moments to process what they had just seen. It was a very powerful telling moment for me. I was also incredibly touched by the response in the Q&A. This is where I was reminded of the power of  film and in this instance ‘fictional’ film. People care deeply about the immigration situation in the UK and spoke quite passionately about the way the film made them feel. They were moved.The topic of “Immigration”or “illegal refugees”are constantly used as a political weapon. The alarming use of statistics exploited to incite racism and fear. Seeing a piece which for a split second (in the grand scheme of things) show an example of the desperation of the people behind the statistics.

The Q&A was geared towards the still so relevant issues raised in the piece. Also the style and how it was shot; very documentary style. Using 35mm as well as various handheld 8mm and Super 8 operated by various “Guarda” in the crowd. So incredibly creative and cutting edge even today. I know the discussion sparked by the film continued after the event on social media and maybe in homes….

Anyways I’m about to digress, I’ll stop myself and allow you to watch the film which in my humble slightly biased opinion, is absolutely brilliant!

Take a look at the film here

ZULU 9 from Yellow Asylum Films on Vimeo.

Here is an article written by the director Alan Gilsenan published by The Irish Times back in 2001. It’s entitled ‘gruesome imitation of life’. This was a response to horrific true events that  occurred in Wexford while the film was being screened across Ireland. Please read the piece HERE

Karen xx

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Just Charlie • The Film

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Yesterday was the first official UK screening of an Independent Film I’m in called Just Charlie. By Seahorse Films. Trailer below!! It’s been beautifully directed by Rebekah Fortune, skilfully and sensitively written by Peter Machen and brilliantly produced by Karen Newman. It stars the fantastic Scott Williams (whose work I’ve watched and admired for years), the wonderful Patricia Potter and introducing Harry Gilby in the title role. Harry Gilby: remember that name, as I have no doubt you’ll be hearing a lot from the gorgeous young actor in the future!!

Harry Gilby: Just Charlie

Harry Gilby as Charlie

It deals with the issue of transgender. It as a subject is only just just starting to really hit the spotlight recently. The dialogue is being had more and more over the years because of hi profile people like Frank Maloney now thankfully living as her authentic self Kellie. But media frenzy hit when Bruce Jenner now Caitlin openly discussed her life long struggles. Whatever you might feel about Caitlin not truly representing the Trans community, she certainly sparked the conversation… globally.Laying bare for others to speak out and more importantly NOT suffer in silence.

The transgender suicide rates are truly staggering, the isolation, the discrimination sometimes leading to violence from others. The pure lack of understanding or compassion. Many displaced youth are suffering and not seeing a way out of what they’re feeling. A mind blowing 48% of transgender young people under 26 have attempted suicide according to a survey; Trans Mental Health Study of 2012

It certainly wasn’t a subject for many films. We had the runaway hit the wonderful yet (back then VERY edgy) The Crying Game. Since then not much really, at least to my knowledge. What makes this film so so special is it tackles it from a young persons perspective. As mentioned earlier the suicide rate and attempts amongst Trans youth is so incredibly alarming. The more we see stories in Film and TV reflecting and representing the community. The thoughts and feelings behind the headlines. The more it will be accepted by a sometimes closed minded society.

 

Take a look at the Trailer

Just Charlie Teaser Trailer from Seahorse Films on Vimeo.

To stay updated on this brilliant film visit www.justcharliefilm.com

Follow the film on Twitter

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BFI Black Star • The Best Black Performances of all Time

  |   My Inspirations

BFI: Black Star

At the end of last year I was invited by the BFI to vote for my top 10 Black Performances of all time. As part of a brilliant programme at the BFI called Black Star. It’s a celebration of the range, versatility and power of black actors in film and TV. My votes below!! To be honest 10 wasn’t enough. What would be your top ten?? I challenge you.

Black Star mission statement

You might be wondering why I’m only writing a post about it now…. well, I’m feeling particularly compelled to continue the celebration as it were, now.  There’s a plethora of great films and TV staring incredibly talented, wonderfully diverse casts. Some of these films were not released in the UK at the time this poll/celebration took place. What’s more, is they’re getting their deserved recognition on the world’s stage for their sterling work! Whoop!! It’s also award season at the moment and well I was absolutely delighted Viola Davis won a BAFTA. The Oscar’s are coming up soon and I wish all the “Black Star” nominees all the very best!

Top TEN really is a tough call. Anyway, I also wanted to doff my cap to those who have inspired me over the last couple of years and continue to do so.

*Music: “Glory” Oscar winning track by John Legend and Common from the Soundtrack of Selma the movie.

I want to quote from the amazingly inspiring Viola Davis’s speech after being awarded her Emmy. She was first African American EVER to win in the “Best Actress” category:

“The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity…”

My poll results.

Karen Bryson, actor

Denzel Washington in Glory (1989)
There is a scene which will forever etched on my brain, where Private Trip (Denzel) is flogged. It’s a close-up of his face, with only a sound of the whip lashing his back. His eyes told a thousand stories. Incredible

Viola Davis in The Help (2011)
Her performance in this film is what brought an already exceptional actress onto the world’s stage. She gave a deeply honest, vulnerable yet strong, dignified performance. The detail in her character work is second to none, with a stillness that drew me in.

Octavia Spencer in The Help (2011)
Octavia’s performance added the much needed relief for such a moving film. Perfect comic timing, born out of honesty and a real connection to the character.

Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple (1985)
Probably one of the most memorable performances on film from any actor. Whoopi’s incredibly detailed portrayal of Celie, spanning her life, was so committed. It’s an amazing film with wonderful writing but it would not have hit the notes without its central performance from the brilliant Whoopi and her exceptional work.

Kerry Washington in Scandal (2012-)
It took until 2012 to have a strong, well-educated black female to head up a TV drama! Thanks to the work of Shonda Rhimes we are given an alternative view of the black female. Kerry Washington stands up to this challenge and knocks it out of the ball park

Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones (1954)
An incredible film adaptation of Bizet’s opera Carmen. This was one of the first times we saw an all-black cast on our screens. It was has a fantastic cast, but Dorothy’s performance was simply exquisite. A rare opportunity to show her talents on screen. I was obsessed with it as a child, as I had never seen anything like it. I used to watch over and over on video tape.

Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
Diana Ross gives the performance of her career in her portrayal of Billie Holiday. Her raw, honest performance truly shed light on the troubled singers life. A very moving performance.

Gabourey Sidibe in Precious (2010)
Incredibly powerful performance from a relative newcomer. So natural on screen the nuances of her performance draws you in, leaving you heart broken and wondering, ‘What happens to her next?’.

Angela Bassett in Tina – What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)
Amazing portrait of Tina Turner. Angela Bassett gave the performance of a lifetime. She beautiful illustrated Tina Turner’s struggles and triumph. A sterling performance from Angela, who delivers dignity, grace and power.

Forest Whitaker in The Butler (2013)
Forest Whitaker has alway shown his talent and commitment as an actor, whatever it is he does. In this film Forest displays gravitas and subtlety, a hard combination to master.

Looking back and doing this poll has really made me think. There has many important performances by black actors in my lifetime. I noticed the stories being told have been similar, often about oppression. I so wish it was different. But I have to say I think Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple is the one that means the most to me. Her range and commitment, her vulnerability and strength in her portrayal of Celie, is simply unforgettable.

Looks like I’m getting my wish….

To view how other invited experts voted: click the link below.

BFI Black Star

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Hello world • A glance back….

  |   My musings

Hello World!!

This is my very first blog post!!!

Firstly, a huge thank you for stopping by and having a read. Secondly apologises for those who visited my previous site only to find one front page and a series of the dreaded 404’s (“this page does not exist”) for almost a year. Finally, I managed to get my act together and a grasp of the constantly evolving technology to do this. Yay!!

This blog is an opportunity for me to air my thoughts and feelings about things in more than the 140 characters on Twitter! The subjects, people and things that inspire and move me. I will share with you my view of the world…Also the things I hold dear for one reason or another. Basically my ramblings, which I hope you’ll find interesting…. look I’ve started already!!

Anyway, here goes.

During the rebuilding of this site, I have to say I found it to be a really interesting, enjoyable and cathartic process.

As I collected all the material from my career over the years it brought back some incredible memories. Looking at the various jobs, the people I worked with and I’ll even go as far as to say, how I felt at the time. It was a bit of a research project, one that I have learnt from and has left me feeling rather positive.

I can remember feeling at the end of every job (as regular as clock work) “you’re never going to work again!”. I think I shared these thoughts with a lot of actors….that sense of insecurity. Clearly a misplaced negative thought process, that offered more harm than good. Lesson one…Stop that nonsense!!

Comedy of Errors (RSC) rehearsals taken from the programme. Karen Bryson blog

Comedy of Errors (RSC) rehearsals taken from the programme.

Throughout the rebuild I realised I didn’t really have any images of my early career in Theatre. It wasn’t necessarily the done thing, to seek or take photographs while you were working.  So I went about a quest to find some. I contacted a lot of the photographers who took the photos from the original productions only to remember, that back then, things weren’t done digitally. A few of them came back and said they’d lost the negatives etc… Goodness, how we’ve come a long way in image capturing. We live in a culture now, where we can readily take photos from a smart phone, fairly good quality images to boot.

Shoot to Win image again from the programme.Karen Bryson Blog

I clearly had lots of fun!! Rehearsal shot of the play Shoot to Win, image from programme.

Not to mention the expectation we all have. The presupposition that we chart our lives via photos… pretty much on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, I think the ability to take photos whenever we want is rather fascinating, something I welcome with open arms. When you look at the bigger picture (no pun intended) and delve into the history of photography from the days of the Daguerrotypes and Calotypes in the 1800’s. Where the subjects had to hold absolutely still for a fairly long period of time. Now, what we can capture any given moment with spontaneity. Like mid action shots in shows….. It’s something now I will always do  It’s pretty darn incredible. I will be sharing my passion for photography in other posts. Oh look I’m off… I digress….

Lesson two: that which we are afraid of, tackle head on. One of my fears being computer technology. I kid you not I struggled with cutting and pasting shortcuts for years…. really!! And through time and letting go of my negative internal dialogue of “I can’t”. Thinking it was something for the youth; my silly irrational phobia. Well, “I can” and “I did”. The process of learning about myself plus a whole bunch of transferable skills…. what a joy!

The collating of my various reviews (which at the time I didn’t read), thankfully. During one of my first jobs a great theatre actor offered a piece of advice which struck a cord with me. He said he NEVER read his reviews whilst he was doing a show. Whether the reviews were good, bad or indifferent. They are all just opinions. Opinions that potentially have the power to change your convictions, leaving you second guessing yourself. That is something I have held on to from that moment to this. Whilst I gathered past reviews for this site(to of course pick the best ones, lol) there was enough distance. I came across some horrific write ups of some of performances. Which, had I read them at the time would have left me feeling crushed!! lol…

Oh so young and somewhat naïve. My first ever acting headshot on graduating from LAMDA. Photo by Geoff Shields.

Oh so young and somewhat naïve. My first ever acting headshot on graduating from LAMDA. Photo by Geoff Shields.

Lesson three: trust one’s instincts. My instinct to take heed of something that I knew would prove to be invaluable.

This has served as a stark reminder of the amazing people I have met and worked with along the way. I have been fortunate enough to learn from some seriously gifted human beings, whose work I totally respect. The wonderful opportunities I have had to work on some incredible shows. The joy, the pain, the laughter, the tears…. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I would recommend this process or something similar to anyone.  Even if it’s not for a website but the collating of materials from past activities, like a good old fashioned scrapbook. There’s definetly something positive in reflecting on the past, in order to be in the moment, appreciate the present and look forward to the future. It’s a great way to remember your wonderful experiences,what you’ve learnt and how far you’ve come…

One of my favourites quotes……

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday”

Pearl S Buck.

I hope I haven’t rambled on. I’m sure, in time I will LEARN to be more concise!

Karen xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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