Small internship, huge learning curve

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Natasha Vickery almost chose not to go into acting because her mum was an actor and 'she'd seen the realities'. Luckily she changed her mind, as she was recently selected by casting director Nathan Lloyd and Gristmill directors Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler from more than 70 applicants for an Equity internship on the set of Back in Very Small Business.

During the Media Super supported internship, Natasha got to observe, ask questions, and generally soak up the experience of being on a working set. She couldn't sound more grateful as she told us 'As soon as I arrived, Robyn and Wayne took me under their wings and made me feel welcome. They insisted I asked as many questions as I wanted. I watched Robyn a lot as she was directing, but Wayne was amazing to watch too. He had his opinions but Robyn was in charge. I would look at them and wonder how they did it. On the set and away from it, I didn't see any personality shift. They were always relaxed and having fun with the cast and crew. It's such a stressful environment but they didn't crack, ever.'

It turns out that relaxation is one of the key things Natasha has learnt as an actor. 'You have a lot of lines to learn, and those lines can change just before you're on. There's also a lot of waiting around, which can be exhausting. When I get my opportunity, I have to remind myself to stay calm, to have a good time and to play. That's why we're there. It doesn't have to be taken so seriously.'

Mistakes can be good

She's also learnt how to deal with making mistakes. She says, 'I think it would be very easy on a set to become worked up and afraid of making mistakes. But I saw a lot of mistakes made, and it was funny and people laughed. It would somehow work in a different way. It happened with even the most experienced actors, and it was okay.'

Natasha speaks very highly of her drama school, saying her course did everything it could to prepare her for working on set. But she's quickly realised that the real world is quite a different experience. 'We worked on as close to a professional set as possible [at drama school],' she says, 'but it's a sheltered environment. I wouldn't want to change that though, because it's important to feel safe, but I think you can only really learn by being released into the world.'

'Robyn gave me some key advice. She told me it's good to try different things, to experiment as an actor, but it has to be within reason. It has to be in a way that serves the other characters in the scene, and serves the story. Otherwise, it becomes self-indulgent. There are a lot of pressures as an actor to feel you have to be the best and show everything you can do. But that's not necessarily required all the time to tell the story.'

Small internship, huge learning curve

Something else she picked up was the difference (and similarities) between stage and screen, saying, 'Performing on set is like performing to an audience, because people are watching. But your energy shouldn't reach those people standing around you. It should reach the camera and the other actors. It's strange, it's a theatrical experience because you're being watched, but no one's really watching you as they're too busy framing their shot or trying to get the sound right.'

We discovered that since the internship, Natasha has been auditioning for more film and television roles as well as theatre. 'Before the internship, the idea of television seemed out of reach to me, but that's all changed now. Now that I've been in that environment, I know that I can do it. It's given me the confidence to know that I belong there. My agent is getting me more TV auditions now, which is fantastic, and when I walk in to the auditions I know what's required of me.'

We wish Natasha the best of luck for her future on stage and on screen, and congratulate her on being the very worthy winner of the 2018 Equity Foundation Gristmill Internship.