Russell Shaw – building a career in the Arts

28th June 2021

Russell Shaw - Photos - StarNow

Russell and I met many years ago in London, when he was an aspiring actor. His career, in this notoriously fickle business, is really taking off but I’ll let Russell present himself, and share his journey.

Hi Russell. How’s it going ?

It’s a good day actually because I’ve just been cast in this feature film called ‘Witch’. I’m one of the leads. It’s probably going to the biggest movie that I’ve been in. We start shooting in the first two weeks of October, so that is very, very exciting.

Could you describe your hometown

I’m from Halifax in West Yorkshire. It’s a lovely place in the valleys, surrounded by countryside. Halifax is a small town near Leeds and Huddersfield, and about thirty miles from Manchester. It’s got a lovely place called the Peace Hall which is incredible … but the football team’s not doing too well.

Peace Hall, Halifax, West Yorkshire

At what point did you decide that you had to be an actor ?

There was no deciding. I was working as a welder at the time, doing sixty hours in a factory and I used to go home at Christmas to be with my mum and my sister and my brother. I was also going out with this girl who lived in London. I think her life, and being around her university friends, influenced me, how she was doing what she wanted to do.

I really struggled. At Christmas I would speak to my mum and ask, ‘What do I want to do ? I don’t want to do what I do anymore’. And she just said, ‘What did you like to do at school ?’ I mentioned acting, so we decided that I would get into performing arts, do a course in acting, just to find out what I wanted.

I did a two-year diploma at Arden school of acting in Manchester, and I ended up with six distinctions. I got in at Leicester and did four years in Performing Arts. I got a BA (Hons), ended up with a 2:2 for my dissertation.

For me, the real acting, the real work starts when you’re not in that bubble anymore, when you’re just out there, getting the experience, getting your showreel together, getting an Equity card, getting headshots. Getting your first professional credit. Finding out what you want to do; is it film, is it TV, is it musicals, is it theatre, is it commercials ? Is it music videos, murder mysteries ? I did them all !

There was a lot involved and I struggled a lot when I first started getting into acting, I was seeing a counsellor, one-to-one sessions, and I continued to do a lot of work by myself. I work on myself all the time, reading books. I’m a graduate in ‘More to Life’, I’m a graduate in ‘Landmark Worldwide’ which is all about how language creates your world and how the mind can run your life.

So, it’s not just a case of changing your career, it’s not easy. But I did it and I don’t give myself enough credit and I’m aware of that.

What were your influences ?

My mum and my sister. They said do what you want to do, what makes you happy. I had two cars and a motorbike when I was twenty-one but it wasn’t about the money, it was about what made me happy.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to work in the Arts ?

Believe in yourself and be aware there’s lots of negativity out there as well as positivity, and for people that haven’t had much success, it’s very easy for them to say that it’s really tough out there, and it’s this and it’s that. But if you listen to that, then you’re taking on their journey, not your own journey. For me, everybody’s journey is different, no matter where you are in life, in your career.

Be strong, always keep thinking outside the box. Develop your skill sets, keep getting the experience. Keep saying yes to opportunities and never stop learning. You’ll be learning for the rest of your life, there’s always something new to learn.

As an artist, one is inevitably going to face disappointment. How do you deal with this ?

One of the things I do, which fits into the Landmark Worldwide, is when you have a disappointment rather than say, ‘It’s me, I’m not good enough,’ what I say is that I wasn’t right for that particular part … but there will be a part that I am right for.

Always be amiable, go into everything with an open mind, like you’re learning for the first time. Don’t assume that you know everything.

Where can my readers see you ?

Russell Shaw - IMDb

I have my own website, I’m on Spotlight, IMDb, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m also on YouTube, so I’m everywhere, really.

https://www.russellshawactor.com/

https://www.spotlight.com/9332-0169-3114

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2388401/

https://www.facebook.com/RussellShaw4/

https://twitter.com/Russ_ShawActor2?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

I also did an eight-part TV series for TV called ‘Unexplained: Caught on Camera’, which was incredible. Look out for a monologue called ‘Borys the Rottweiler’ on Sky Arts, in which I play a dog.

Additionally, you can also see me in the Arctic Monkey Video, ‘When the Sun Goes Down – Scummy Man’.

The biggest things have been ‘Adventure Boyz’ & ‘The Lockdown Hauntings’ but the biggest thing is going to be ‘Witch’.

Russell Shaw - IMDb
Russell Shaw - IMDb

I’ve done loads of radio and commercials including one for Halifax Banking, which is on TV still.

What does the future hold ? Any exciting news ?

Yes, I’ve just been cast for a commercial. It’s on hold for TV and cinema but, I’ve been told, it’s going to be out on the 14th July. It’s a commercial for National Rail, and I play a father who wants to take a shortcut home to be with his wife and child. I walk across a rail track … and get zapped ! It’s basically National Rail safety. My wife is played by Miranda Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s (‘Dunkirk’, ‘Inception’, ‘Batman Begins’) cousin, so I’m looking forward to that.

The exciting news for me is that ‘The Lockdown Hauntings’ is actually being shown in Singapore, right at this very moment, at the Shaw Theatre, which is really beautiful. I’m thinking it’s going to have an American release soon.

Russell Shaw (@Russ_ShawActor2) | Twitter
With some cast and crew of ‘Adventure Boyz’ https://twitter.com/russ_shawactor2

The other big thing for me, just confirmed yesterday, is that I’ve been confirmed as one of the leads in ‘Witch’, directed by Marc Zammit and written by Craig Hines.


Marc Zammit@zammit_marc
After 3 months of auditions. We were completely blown away by @Russ_ShawActor2 performance! The moment we saw his self tape we had goose bumps and knew he was going to be working with us! Playing one of the Leads in feature film WITCH #THOMAS@WitchMovie1

Image

The film will be coming out in 2022, and it’s getting a lot of exposure. Marc Zammit is connected with Universal, Lionsgate and Paramount, so it’s definitely going to be the biggest movie that I’ve been involved in. I play a character called Thomas. It’s a 16th Century supernatural horror film.

Six Years Gone
Unexplained: Caught on Camera

I’m also doing a Radio 4 play next week as well as a voice-over for Medtronic which will be heard all over Europe. I seem to be doing a lot of feature films. This year I’ve got ‘Six Years Gone’ in which I play a detective. That’s coming out end of September. I’m also in another film, a black comedy called ‘Psycho List’, and I’m also in a short film which we’re shooting next week.

Tangled Net, Bite-Size, Edinburgh Fringe
Tangled Net, Bite-Size, Edinburgh Fringe

So, that just about wraps it up. Believe in your dreams, believe in your own path. Stay away from any negativity. More than anything, believe in yourself.

Russell Shaw: Actor - Brighton, UK - StarNow

The Lockdown Hauntings: A new British film with my friend Russell Shaw

24th May 2021

May be an image of 4 people and text
Directed by Howard J Ford

I have been lucky enough to know and even work with some actors who have gone on to far greater things. Today I would like to introduce my buddy Russell Shaw with whom I made a short film in Berlin, way back in 2005.

Russell Shaw as Director and Thay Paul (with ever present coffee)

Since then, Russell has kept following his dream and has been in music videos, adverts and some full-length films, the latest of which is ‘The Lockdown Hauntings’ set in present day UK, where people have been living under strict lockdown regulations.

Russell posted this link online:

Hey guys, our new feature film @thelockdownhauntings is out now on #amazon #primevideo#virginmedia#skystore#itunes FILMED IN THE FIRST LOCKDOWN Please check it out and leave us your honest heartfelt reviews on Amazon, IMDB etc….Thank you!Your support means the world to us ❤🎬👻#tonytoddofficial#tonytodd#candyman #horror #horrormovies#horrorcommunity#horrorfan#entity#paranormal#indyfilm#indyfilmmaking#lockdown#horror#fear#terror#pandemic#usrelease#amazon#actorslife🎬#filmactor#angeladixon#deatheater#detective#bogeyman#scary #specialeffects #soundtrack

The official trailer may be viewed here:

I wrote a short piece for IMDb but it didn’t appear on their site. Undeterred, I’ll repost it here with my usual disclaimer …

  • Summary: An allegory of fear and helplessness
  • DISCLOSURE: I’m a friend of a cast member, so I must recuse myself from giving a rating and instead, I’ll submit a brief interpretation.

    “Fear is something horrible, an atrocious sensation, a sort of decomposition of the soul,” (Guy de Maupassant, ‘Le Peur’ 1882).

    A bustling, vibrant metropolis, eerily, unnervingly quiet; these are the opening images that lead us into the surreal paranoid world of London and the UK under Lockdown. We are introduced to the characters who fear for loved ones, for their lives, for their uncertain futures. All they know is that they have no control or power over unseen and unforeseeable events.

    Against this background, a serial killer has emerged, elusive in the extreme; not only are they no signs of break-ins, there are no forensic clues at all. To compound the mystery, the detective assigned to the case is herself under quarantine, waiting for test results to see if she is infected.

    The unknown unseen killer could represent COVID and how easily it can be transmitted. We sense the alienation and impotence of the characters, lacking the support of friends, family and institutions. Everyone is alone and vulnerable and the deaths are the personification of extreme paranoia in extreme circumstances. We are not scared of what we know, but of what we don’t know.

    ‘The Lockdown Hauntings’ is a valuable source for how people lived and felt in the early 2020s as even at time of writing, we don’t know if the vaccines work (solve the case) or if new mutant variants will arise …

I’m sure Russell would be over the moon if you watched the movie and left your own comments, thoughts and reviews.

If by any chance you wish to see the film I made with Russell, that film, ‘Bad Faith,’ may be viewed here:

Seahorse Productions: ‘Bad Faith’, Berlin, GERMANY 2005

6th May 2020

Filmed in Berlin, yet our story starts in Paris …

Existentialism, rebirth, personas and inner truth

Magda Champs Elysées *** - The Paris bouquinistes: discover the ...

Walking along the iconic bookstalls of Paris, by the historic Seine, I found a copy of this book:

Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology ...

The philosophy by Jean-Paul Sartre was the inspiration behind my 2005 film, ‘Bad Faith’.

Jean-Paul Sartre (Author of Nausea)

To encapsulate a weighty, heavy-going and often impenetrable book (at least to me) in a succinct sentence or two, Sartre discusses the concept of bad faith (mauvaise foi) whereby people adopt a false persona or identity, become affected, fake, inauthentic and, as a consequence, loose their freedom.

Freedom was a major issue in the writings of Sartre, so please use the internet to discover more if this interests you.

The story of ‘Bad Faith’ takes place over one single day, in Berlin. An English man, Alan Francis (Russell Shaw) has arrived early in the morning, planning to pay a surprise visit to an old friend, an actress named Julie Retore (Natasha Kepsi). They haven’t met for a long time, but Alan has an offer for her … he is about to make a film and wants Julie to play the female lead.

They meet and discuss old times, and how their lives have changed. However, when Alan offers her the film, Natasha senses their may be more to his offer than would appear on the surface.

The film can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ogP5mfuUw

LIGHTS

CAMERAS

ACTION

The film contains a number of French references, the work of author Marcel Proust, the films of Jean-Luc Godard and the soundtrack features Francis Poulenc. Julie is seen drinking in a French-style cafe, while we hear actress Julie Delpy singing (in French) in the background. Julie also speaks a few words of French to a young student who has forgotten his book (the French poet Rimbaud). The area where the two protagonists meets features a large French church, and Julie’s surname comes from a character in the French-language film ‘Messidor’ (1979).

The issue of Bad Faith is exemplified by the contradictory characters. Alan appears confident, indeed, over-confident, optimist, yet admits to being terrified (in a moment of relatable honesty). Julie, by contrast, appears natural and content as she deals with the minor annoyances of her daily life. Her modest demeanor serves to highlight the affected manner of Alan’s ‘performance’. As Julie points out, it’s “Not enough for you to be a director, you have to look like one, too,” to which Alan admits is “Just an image.” We, like Julie, question this … is it a just image ?

What is apparent is that Alan and Julie had some kind of relationship in the past, when they worked together in tiny theatres, performing for tiny audiences. I deliberately left the extent of the relationship open … I want the audience to decide (just friends, boyfriend & girlfriend, one-night stand, one in love, the other wanting a platonic relationship, etc).

During the script readings, I allowed the actors to invent their own back story and NOT to tell me … so even I don’t know their history.

As the day comes to an end, Alan has to be honest about what he wants, and the scene becomes somewhat embarrassing to watch. We see that Julie is open and honest, she doesn’t want to pretend or hide behind personas anymore. Tellingly, Alan doesn’t seem to understand … or want to understand.

A final ‘clue’ is when Julie returns to her work (and eagle-eyes viewers may spot a tiny photo of Julie Delpy at the front of the desk). We see a copy of Alan’s script upon which Julie places a copy of Proust, a book whose title has been approximately translated as ‘Remembrance of Things Past’.

So which one is really free ? We hear that Alan has to work under producers and acquiesce to their decisions. Julie is alone, but she seems to have choice over what work she does or doesn’t do. Is she happy ? Does she regret her choice ? Will Alan’s film be a success ? All of these are left unanswered. The crux of the film is the interaction of the two leads. If Alan had been less over-bearing and demonstrated humility, would the outcome have been different ? I will let you decide.

CREDITS

Natascha Kepsi

Russell Shaw

David Graber

Steffi Muller

Bjorn Langhans // Christine Muller and Philipp Pressmann

Harri Ansorge, Russell Shaw & Paul Pacifico

Cameras and Edit: Harri Ansorge

Foley Artist: Max Bauer

A film by Paul Pacifico

Seahorse Productions & IRRAH

BERLIN 2005

Buying lunch at a Kina Imbiss (small Chinese restaurant) Alexamderplatz Station, Berlin.
Photo by Russell Shaw