Interview with Ali Coffey | Fishpond.ie
Words: Gillian Hopper
Budding Irish actors grab a HB pencil and take note! After 15 or so years of drama and numerous appearances on British television, Ali Coffey saw an opportunity and a calling on the other side of the camera. Sidestepping into casting saw her excel at spotting fresh talent, and getting the best work for both actors and productions, and through hard work and 10 years of casting, taping and talking AC Casting was born. Ali continues to work as a casting director here in Ireland and 4 years ago launched Fishpond.ie, a resource hub for all facets of the acting industry here in Ireland and across the world.
Gillian Hopper caught up with Ali Coffey, founder of Fishpond.ie, to talk castings, auditions and breaking into the business...
Can you give us a little background to Fishpond.ie beginnings...
A little over 5 years ago I realised that casting directors really needed one place to access Ireland’s acting community and in turn the actors needed a simple resource where they could have their own web page and return in relevant searches, giving them the peace of mind that they are in the right place at the right time. Over the next year I developed the site along with my turbo techies and Fishpond was born in 2008.
Transcending from actor to casting director what advice can you offer actors on getting started?
Training of some degree really helps and is almost always essential bar the few mavericks out there who make it alone. Getting fit and looking after your body is really important as well as constantly addressing the areas that you find scary rather than adopting ostrich-like tendencies. For example some people are shy of Shakespeare or intimidated by improvisation…
What should beginners looking to break into the business know about agents?
That it can be really useful to have someone fighting your corner who’s in the loop or you can decide to go it alone and dedicate yourself to being up to date with all that’s going on in the industry. Fishpond is roughly half and half independent and represented actors.
What is the best way to prepare for an audition?
Find out as much as you possibly can about the character, the genre, the author, the director. Essentially equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Make a creative decision about how you will approach the role but be flexible enough to take direction. A good idea is to rehearse a number of different ways, anticipating a different creative approach. Oh yeah and know your lines. Crucial!
Does the Fishpond database have other profiles besides those for actors?
No. We intentionally specialise in professional actors so we can focus all our energies in this area. There are two different sides to the site, casting and acting; those casting being casting directors, directors, producers, production companies, theatre companies and ad agencies.
Is Fishpond.ie internationally recognised?
Yes. Our casting users are registered worldwide. After Ireland it would certainly be UK users who top the poll and then companies dotted here and there globally use the site on a project by project basis.
How much does it cost to join?
€10 per month
Can anybody join? What are the necessary credentials for a candidate to be accepted to the database?
No. We do require that each actor has either professionally trained or at least has a number of professional credits under their belt before they come on board and is pursuing a career in the profession. Casting is for use exclusively by industry professionals.
Do you ever have open call castings?
Maybe a couple of times a year. Once in a blue moon.
Do you scout actors or do people mainly come to you?
They come and find us!
How should aspiring actors deal with auditioning for TV as opposed to auditioning for stage?
Less is more on camera – this is the golden rule. Acting for screen is about taking in the information fed to you, assimilating and reacting – when you try to do more it can quickly become too big and lose credibility.
How do you build a good online portfolio? Does the agency or the actor build their profile?
Each actor builds their own with a couple of agents choosing to do so on behalf of their clients and Katy is always on hand to help.
Do you think other social media websites help or hinder new actors attempting to establish a career?
Exposure is great. For new actors it’s about getting known by the people who can provide you with an opportunity to do your thing. Luckily with a bit of tenacity and perseverance this is manageable in Ireland as it’s a busy but compact industry.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 14th December 2012 | Theatre
Fishpond is a brilliant site. I was cast in a film in Sligo within a week of joining.Posted 13:36 | Sat 15th Dec 2012
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