Martin Gibbons: Life as a Casting Director

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.
  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

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View the Commercial for This Girl Can here. 

Team PHA x

LOOSE WOMEN: #MyBodyMyStory

We caught up with PHA beauty Rachel Peru following her recent appearance on Loose Women as part of the #MyBodyMyStory campaign. Here’s what she had to say:

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How did you first get involved with the campaign? 

Inspired by the Loose Women #MyBodyMyStory campaign Mya Fawcitt photographer from Silvery Moon Photography put a call out on Facebook for any willing volunteers to have their photographs taken wearing only their underwear to help promote body positivity. I volunteered immediately as I think it’s something that really needs to be encouraged more and having two teenage daughters of my own I can see how important it is that we try and challenge the medias portrayal of beauty. Women in today’s society are put under so much pressure from a young age to look a certain way when in fact we should be embracing our individuality and judging others a lot less.

Would you say that you’ve always had the confidence to do something like this? 

I have always struggled with my body shape and particularly my chest size 34FF as I was always bigger than all my friends growing up which definitely knocked my self confidence. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I began to accept and love myself and embrace my curves which I now love.

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Can you tell us a bit more about the other women in the photo with you?

We are a mixed group of 12 women, some friends some complete strangers, ranging from 23 to 57, with a very mixed bag of body issues. The photographer Mya also did the shoot in her underwear so everyone was equal.

What have you been up to since shooting the Facebook campaign? 

Since the shoot and sharing our photos on social media I have been live on Radio Leeds with Mya and Laura to talk about body positivity and then we got the call from the Loose Women team. I don’t think anyone involved had thought past the initial photo day so to then go on live TV in our underwear was a completely different level, however as we all now talk most days I can see the difference in confidence levels so everyone was happy to do it.

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What was the highlight of your day on Loose Women? 

We all had a fabulous day with Loose Women and I have to admit the glass of Prosecco prior to going on helped. The whole point of this was to remind women that we all have our own body stories and society’s perception of beauty needs to be challenged. The whole group came away from the studio feeling liberated and happy that they’ve got involved. The icing on the cake was the afternoon tea treat on a London tour bus where we relaxed, drank tea, Prosecco and ate lots of  yummy cakes. I didn’t know any of these women before hand and they have become real friends and I have been completely inspired by them.

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Make sure to follow us on Instagram Twitter & Facebook for more inspirational stories and to keep up to date with what our models are getting up to.

Love PHA x

Behind The Scenes: Mallory Knox Music Video

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Mallory Knox is an English Rock band from Cambridge. In 2013 they released their debut album Signals which managed to reach 33 in the UK charts. They have recently released their third album Wired earlier this year.

We have luckily had a huge honour of having our model Natalie Taylor take part in their most recent music video for their new album Wired.

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See below for more behind the scenes shots of Natalie shooting with Mallory Knox in Manchester earlier this week.

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Stay tuned to see the final edit!

In the mean-time here is a link to their music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpIlGnzxMSw

Great work Natalie!