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w/e 30 September 2018

This week I had my first ever paid acting job. If I was to describe my acting career as a long struggle I’d emphasise that I took my first acting evening class 14 years ago, so to get to this first square on the board has been a difficult journey full of setbacks blah blah blah. Of course, most of that time I wasn’t even trying slightly to get any acting work and there was a long period when I wasn’t even doing any classes. Even now, having had my face on Spotlight and Mandy for a while, I’m not actively doing much to advance this “career”.

Anyway, this was a two day shoot for a documentary with reconstructed dramatic scenes in which a couple commit murder and aren’t rumbled for several years. I played the husband. It was quite a gentle experience for my first (maybe only) professional acting work: I had no lines to learn — there were a couple of scenes with improvised dialogue — and, despite the murdering, this guy was unnaturally calm so my emotional range wasn’t much exercised. Who could imagine that emotionless men with not much to say would be a good role for me?

The whole thing was an interesting experience, filmed in a suburban house in Kent. There were seven crew and from two to four actors at any one time. To this newbie observer the process often seemed chaotic, with shouts for mislaid pieces of equipment, minds being changed, people running around looking for things… and yet the very tight schedule was stuck to and everyone left on time, something my more experienced co-star had never experienced. There’s a peculiar calm in sitting motionless on set, between takes, maintaining an emotional state, however limited, while everyone around is moving cameras, re-arranging lights, re-setting props, etc.

I think I did OK. It’s so hard to know. I’m not sure what expectations were or how clearly my scenes will feature in the final programme. Hopefully it was a good start.

At the Old Vic this week was a show from the US about Samuel Pepys, 17c. After mentioning it on the site I was kindly offered a couple of tickets and went along. It was made up of lots of parts, some of which inevitably worked better than others, but it was generally a lot of fun. Especially the two women playing annotators on the website, mentioning “Phil” and various pseudonyms familiar from the site. I met them afterwards and I’m not saying all theatre shows should mention me by name and involve me having a drink with the friendly cast but I’d probably go more often if they did.

We finished watching Trust this week which was very enjoyable. It sagged a bit part-way through when episodes were overly flashback-heavy, which meant the tension of the main “present day” narrative was somewhat lost. It felt a couple of episodes longer than it needed to be. But, otherwise, very good.

I’m continuing to enjoy Mastodon as a Twitter alternative although it is comparatively quiet for me. (I’m here.) A few people I know use Mastodon instead of Twitter and a few of them mirror messages between the two (so I mute them on Twitter). It would take several more Twitter-to-Mastodon shifts to change the balance so that, for me, Mastodon felt busier than Twitter.

I’ve realised that one reason I like Mastodon over Twitter has nothing to do with the technologies or rules or philosophies. It’s that, currently, Mastodon is mostly made up of people. I know that plenty of people use Twitter as a source of news and information, or to follow celebrities, but I’ve only ever seen it as somewhere to chat with friends and, sometimes, strangers. And, unfortunately and reluctantly, to complain at brands when that seems like the only likely way of getting a response.

I only use social media to be social so I only want it to contain actual people. Not entities struggling to “engage” with as many people as possible to boost their clickthrough rates and sales. Even though I don’t actively follow non-people on Twitter I’m still aware that they’re around; they change the atmosphere. It’s like sitting in a pub, chatting with friends, knowing that when you next head to the bar you might get collared by people shouting to get your attention while shoving newspapers and special offers in your face. Something like that anyway. I want a bit of the internet that’s just people.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not struggling to promote myself or my livelihood-supporting business. If I was I’d be torn between not-liking-Twitter and the larger audience I could have there. But, right now, I’m not looking for an “audience”.

So, I’m only using Twitter to read and reply to people who are still using it, like popping in to visit friends in a different country. On Mastodon I now generally only post to people who follow me (I’m private-ish there), which isn’t many. It’s a bit too quiet but at least it doesn’t feel unpleasant.

That’s all. I hope you have completed your end-of-Q3 rituals in order to usher in a happy and successful Q4. If not, do it now, the special dance, and you should be fine.

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