“There’s no career in it, there’s no money in it and you’re probably going to fail anyway.” Harry Dexter’s inner voice stifled his acting desire for many a year. But you can’t be sensible all the time, and now he’s created a parallel career that has developed skills, forged roles and offered up some exciting opportunities.
“I got to a point when I took the decision,’ why shouldn’t I?”” Harry told D&CFilm about his acting. So he put feelers out, started researching, and found a way.
“When you start looking, purposely, there’s a lot out there that can help you,” he says. Harry mentions Act On This – The TV Actors Network founded by Ross Grant online, and London Actors Workshop, available online and in the London Studio.
Harry took on the acting challenge later in life. He’d built a career for himself and his performance now runs alongside his day job. According to his Mandy profile he plays 60-70.
A keen eye for opportunities
With training, practice and a keen eye for opportunities Harry got the ball rolling for stage and screen. One of his first roles, and one which proved intellectually, creatively and socially rewarding, was an immersive theatre production in Bodmin in 2018. As part of the anniversary of the end of the First World War he took on the identity of a member of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in a trench, performing with the public, getting deep into the role as well as sharing that experience in the interactive performance.
Then Henry Austwick of Swashbuckling Cornwall asked if he could do some work as a supporting actor. What followed was being an extra in Rosemunde Pilcher, filmed in Cornwall for German television. This led to speaking roles and a credit. He’s worked on set with Tom Hardy, and a Netflix production that’s coming out later this year. And he’s been in Pleasuredome, by Falmouth University graduate film Jake Waters. He’s fresh from Tim Seyfert’s Nowhere. When we caught up with him he’d been on set for Doc Martin.
“It’s amazing where it’s taken me,” Harry says, and goes on to tell us how eye-opening it was to be on a film promoting fire safety for Devon and Somerset fire service.
Feel the fear
“My guiding principle is feel the fear and do it anyway,” he says.
“I didn’t know where it would lead, but I knew there were important waypoints you need to get to, to develop what you’re doing: Spotlight; agents; having a showreel. You’ve got to work out a map about how to do that and find people who are positive and supportive. And know the inside the business, because it is a business after all.”
That element of business was important for Harry.
“I wanted the challenge of getting paid and getting rejected,” he says. “If you get to work on set, then that is the fun bit. “
There are technical skills that go along with that, like learning lines and exercising what you’re doing – developing the skill and understanding about how to abandon the performance to become the character. Every week Harry checks in with the craft of acting on Zoom with Actors Coaching International.
Get on set
“There’s a lot to learn, but there’s a lot where you can get that from,” says Harry, who recommends getting on set, even as an extra to see how things work.
He also points out the number of productions that take place in Cornwall and the money, creativity and opportunity filmmaking brings to the county.
He says: “Be amongst other people who are passionate about what they’re doing.”
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