IT’S MONDAY AFTERNOON AND WE’RE JOINED IN THE PHA STUDIO BY CASTING DIRECTOR MARTIN GIBBONS TO FIND OUT ALL ABOUT HOW HE BECAME A CASTING DIRECTOR AND WHY HE NEVER FOLLOWED HIS DREAM OF BECOMING A FOOTBALLER.
- Martin it’s so great to have you back in the studio again. We’ve been wanting to ask for a while how exactly did you become a casting director?
It all spanned from setting up my own theatre company back in 2003 called Monkeywood where I gained experience casting for theatre. At the time I was an actor working for a telecoms company before I was made redundant. My next step came when I landed the job as a casting assistant working at Emma Stafford Casting. I learnt so much in my 5 years there before eventually setting up on my own.
- What’s your history both in acting & casting?
I’ve been acting ever since I was 12, my first ever role was the back end of a donkey in a pantomime, thrilling I know. My mum and dad used to put on amateur shows which I’d sell programmes at so I’ve spent my whole life around actors. I didn’t grow up wanting to be an actor, I wanted to be a footballer and even went to University to study Sports Science. I still did lots of acting on the side before setting up Monkeywood.
- Which casting are you most proud of?
Hands down it has to be Chris Morris’ film Four Lions, it was incredible to be a part of. I’m also really proud of the work I did casting for the BBC Short film ‘Sleeping Lions’ which won awards. Funnily enough we cast that in this very studio. One of the recent things I cast for which I’m really proud of has to be the commercial for ‘This Girl Can’ which also won awards.
- What’s the worst thing you’ve experienced go wrong in a casting?
I was casting for a Hovis Farmer’s commercial, it was a group casting of 4 and the idea was for them to run towards the camera before jumping over a tiny fence. We filmed it in a car park in Chorlton where one guy ended up falling and tore his leg open, there was blood everywhere.
- What’s the most unusual thing you’ve been asked to do in a casting?
I could write a whole book! The strangest one though would have to be when I had to propose to a man to get their reaction on camera. One guy didn’t take it too well.
- What are your plans for Martin Gibbons casting moving forward?
Well, things are getting busier which is obviously great. I’m blessed enough to say that I love my job so I intend on growing even further. I feel a real sense of achievement with every job that I take on so continuing with that will be a success.
- We hear you also do a bit of directing from time to time, are you working on anything at the minute?
I’m currently directing ‘Just Sayin’ as part of JB Shorts in November which is very exciting for me. I’ve also got some great things lines up for next year as I’ll be directing ‘The Manchester Project’ at HOME Theatre as part of the Push Season in January and ‘Witch’ with Bolton Octagon in May.
- Any advice for an aspiring actor coming to cast with you?
The main thing I see from actors is that they have it in their heads that we are here to trick them or catch them out. Trust me we want you to brilliant so go into every casting with the confidence that you’re here because we believe in you.
- What sets you apart from other casting directors?
Ooh that’s a good question. I get told quite a lot that I make people feel comfortable and relaxed in a room and because I direct as well I’m able to give good direction to get the most out of a person.
- What is it you like most about casting at PHA?
There’s a whole host of reasons I love casting here. The studio space is huge which makes it perfect for a big casting. I’ve done all sorts here, football, dance, running you name it! The staff are also amazing and very welcoming which makes me feel right at home every time I return.