Chichester film company 'cutting out the middle man' between talent and success

Performing arts group ProACT, owned by director Bill Baxter (third, left), was set up to help adult actors struggling to gain experience in the industry. Photo: Amanda Beauchamp
Performing arts group ProACT, owned by director Bill Baxter (third, left), was set up to help adult actors struggling to gain experience in the industry. Photo: Amanda Beauchamp

Budding actors in Chichester have been given an opportunity to hit the ground running by a company, working to 'cut out the middle man' between talent and success.

Performing arts group ProACT, owned by director Bill Baxter at 21-23 Southgate, was set up to help adult actors struggling to gain experience in the industry.

The group is now in pre-production for aTV drama series, to be shown on local TV on Freeview and Virgin Media. Photo: Amanda Beauchamp

The group is now in pre-production for aTV drama series, to be shown on local TV on Freeview and Virgin Media. Photo: Amanda Beauchamp

The group is now in pre-production for a TV drama series, to be shown on local TV on Freeview and Virgin Media.

Bill said: "We set up to help actors as it is always difficult trying to get work and an agent if you haven't already done any work. We try to help actors move forward by making our own dramas, which are shown on local TV stations like Brighton TV.

"We are using local actors from the Chichester area, who want to get into television and film. It gives the local actors experience of being on set as television acting is different to being on stage.

"Chichester is full of actors and we've got a few ourselves but they want to go into the television side of things. We are producing it as a foundation for actors to move on. We will help with whatever their needs are. There are so many dodgy companies trying to take money off people so we want to help guide them through that.

"Sue Shattock, a lady from Chichester, has written a new TV drama series. It is going to be a six-part series, called Fame & The Fortunes. It is a great, funny story about a rock band, who all want to be famous. It's lighthearted but they are all serious about it.

"We are in pre-production now and should hopefully have episodes out within the next six months."

Bill, who used to run acting classes for younger people, has 'moved into teaching adults to help them get a foot on the ladder'.

He added: "I am from Southampton and worked all over the south but I am living in Chichester now and want to focus on the actors from this area.

"Chichester Players had adult classes but had to stop because of [a lack of] funding. I was approached by people there and asked if I would like to teach adults. That's how I started. I filled the gap and have been doing it for about a year.

"[At first] I was part of the business side and I went into directing. I have been behind the camera box and, with some of my ex-students, filmed some pilot series which were considered by the BBC.

"I have directed more than 20 short films and have had a successful local television drama before about a school which I directed and produced with my students.

"Some of the young people I worked with have gone into television commercials, television dramas and are represented by a top agent. I am trying to do a similar thing really.

"People can spend years and years and thousands of pounds at drama school but come away without an agent or any work. This cuts out the middle man to try to get them somewhere. It is hard to be a spotlight actor, which is where all the agents look.

"Stage work is a totally different form of acting. Everything is bigger on stage, bigger expressions and hands but it has to be very realistic on screen.

"The kids have done well, with some growing up to become teachers. Some have gone into editing TV and film work. They are all still friends after many years. It is a fantastic social thing too."

New membership opportunities are available for this month. Enquiries should be directed to Bill via email at info@tvstageschool.com. See ProACT's website here.