Artist interview: Actor and producer, Toby Osmond
What is it that you’re passionate about? Why do you do what you do? Toby Osmond is an actor and producer in London. He thought he was exactly where he wanted to be - working with a Non-Government Organisation until this…
I discovered acting after finally reaching where I wanted to get to in my career in NGO's, then I auditioned for a play and boom! I handed in my notice. Sounds cheesy but I found my calling. And I've never looked back, I love my job! I work in film, theatre and television as an actor, and have produced indie films. I love to act in all of them, screen and stage both have their delights - I'm not just a stage purist! But I am also a stage purist. I've produced on film before in order to help get a project I believe in, get made, or to help friends out.
What’s the latest news in the world of Toby Osmond?
I've been super lucky this year as I'm doing a number of projects I'm thrilled about. I recently finished work on 'Dead Souls', a stage adaptation of the Nikolai Gogol book by the wonderful Chloe Myerson, directed by the very talented Nico Pimpare. We're waiting to see if this gets a transfer which would be lovely as we got very well reviewed for it, and the creatives were lovely to work with on the project.
Okay, some stage work. How about in film?
I'm filming Tom Paton's 'Black Site' at the moment, which is being billed as 'The Raid' meets HP Lovecraft. Funnily enough all last year when I wasn't on set I was hassling writers I know to write an HP Lovecraft horror for me to act in and then Tom says he has a role for me in a script he wrote a couple of years ago based on HP Lovecraft! I'm also looking forward to the last 2 features I was in to be released, both of which have recently secured distribution - Dark Beacon and Kaufman's Game. So keep yer eyes peeled later this year for those!
How can readers stay in the loop for those projects?
We got in a lovely interview on TV for 'Dead Souls', which can be seen here:
For future info on all the projects check out:
Dead Souls: twitter.com/monkheadtheatre
Black Site: facebook.com/blacksitemovieofficial
Dark Beacon: facebook.com/DarkBeaconMovie
Kaufman's Game: facebook.com/kaufmansgamemovie
For people that aren’t familiar with your work, what is it that sets you apart from other actors?
The 'Prince of Soho', Bernie Katz, named me 'Mr Soho', which probably sums up a lot about me. I'm sort of a masculine bohemian teddy boy dandy feminist. Although despite the leopard print (faux) fur coat I often wear in town, I am not a dedicated follower of fashion. In fact, because I wear a leopard print fur coat probably bars me from being considered fashionable, which I'm pleased about. Peacock feathers aside, I take my art and craft very seriously. I'm reading a biography of Henry Irving at the moment - he took this stuff seriously! I'm also a big fan of Grotowski, which suited Monkhead Theatre's process for 'Dead Souls' perfectly. I also promote the sh$t out of any work I'm in.
Ah yes, promotion. I knew we’d get there sooner or later. What does promoting your work mean? Where do you connect with your audience?
I use social media semi-prolifically. I try to tweet a couple of times a day but often don't. I have recently drawn a line between my personal and professional Facebook pages in order to have some semblance of work/private life separation, and I joined Insta because I was bullied into it by the Dark Beacon crew, Green 13 films, who I love. Social media is great for promoting work, especially theatre and indie film where it can be the make or break between a show or film making a profit and being seen or being consigned to the dustbin of history. I'm on Twitter: @tobyosmond Facebook: @tobyosmondactor and Instagram: mr.t.osmond which I chose because it had 'Mr T' in. I mean who doesn't want to be in the A-Team?
What are the unique characteristics of each platform for you?
I definitely have the largest following on Twitter, however, I feel my Facebook homies are the most supportive when it comes to watching and sharing my work and achievements. This may be because a substantial amount of them are my real life friends (what?!), but whatever it is they're lovely. My Twitterati friends are lovely in a different way - I'm more likely to get someone I have never met retweet me, or someone quite big in the industry show their support somehow. I recently was thrilled to have @westendproducer RT for our show and apologise that he couldn't make it in person. Legend! Instagram I'm horribly inattentive to, but I'll come there soon honest!
How do you build your audience on social media?
Facebook I invite any new personal friends I make to like my actor page, twitter I follow actors back who follow me - I'm a big believer in actors supporting each other. Not so much in the countless Facebook groups with people moaning about stuff and posting pictures of their cats, but supporting each other in a substantial meaningful way to drive each other's careers forward. I also have all my social media details in my email signature.
Do you have any tips for other actors and creative types?
Form authentic connections with people on social media and be generous. Some actors (not all) have a tendency to think that their stuff is most important. Wake up call: you're not the centre of the universe. Retweet other people. Like they're pages. Sure, on Twitter ideally you'll have more followers than people you follow - you want to look desired. However, on Facebook, will it really hurt to like everyone else's pages?
Do you have any definite don’ts?
For crying out loud, don't do the 'follow unfollow' technique on twitter, it'll quickly get you a reputation. I was challenged by someone on twitter once who had some software that told them who followed and unfollowed them, and I tweeted back to them saying 'sorry, I followed you back then realised you're a Trump supporter and a racist, so I unfollowed you. Feel free to unfollow me.'
How about paid ads. Do you go there?
I have a lovely friend who's put some Facebook ads up for me a couple of times. They have worked to varying degrees. It's always hard to tell but Facebook shows you how many times whatever link has been clicked through and it's 'reach'. Although I'm not sure how valuable it is and if people just get annoyed by them.
I guess, for you, sales is all about auditions and landing parts. Does social media help you with that?
I have got work through Facebook before, and I think I've had auditions from Twitter. To be honest, my agent gets me a lot of castings, and my personal network, which is largely aided by Facebook and Twitter gets me the rest of my auditions.
Would you say that traditional networking has been entirely replaced by social networking now?
I do try to meet movers and shakers in the industry in the real world. I co-host a networking night which is great for inviting people I've never actually met along to meet in person. Or if it's someone I really want to meet I'll invite them for a coffee in Soho. Usually, there will have to have been some non-social media connection though - either we were at the same event but didn't get a chance to speak, or they came to a play I was in but had to leave afterwards, that sort of thing. Film and Theatre (less so TV) are very much relations driven, so actually meeting people is really valuable. Also, a lot of really nice people work in the industry, so you get to meet lots of lovely folk! Networking is just socialising. Also don't be fake, be nice.
Have you discovered any time savers for organizing yourself online?
I found a very handy add-on for Firefox (also on Chrome) which allows you to 'invite all' on Facebook events. This used to be a function but they got rid of it. It's great for running the networking night I do, I just invite all the people who were invited to the last one. Saves hours.
Any final words to help creative people get ahead?
Creatives, and English people, often find it cringy to self-promote. Get over this. You don't have to come across as cringy, and if you do, apologise for coming across as cringy! We love apologising in our culture so it's a win win! If people don't know about you they can't hire you. If you have a killer agent then you may not need to do all this marketing stuff as they'll be fighting your corner, but in the indie film world profile can mean getting a job or not.