The Sunday, October 20, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club featured Lela Layla Aukes and Ross Cain speaking about their experience as westerners appearing as actors or modelling in Thailand. Both have lived in Thailand for many years and are now involved with the very different world of cinema, modelling and all that goes with it.
Lela is of Dutch extraction, born in Indonesia. With her fair colouring, willowy build and quiet confidence, it is easy to see how she keeps busy in her chosen field. As her start in the business, she tells the story of a boyfriend who was in film school at college and how she supplemented her income as an extra in those early days before going on to have a career and a family. Much later it was convincing her daughter to go to seek work in the acting field to give her more self-confidence. That brought about an offer for herself to work. Since then, she has not looked back. She says Thai films often need foreigners. To aid this she now runs an active online Facebook group for people interested in obtaining work in acting, modelling or as extras. Merely as a go between she says, not an agent, but maybe more as a facilitator.
Ross Cain is English, originally from Manchester. Slim and dark haired, he has an expressive and interesting face for film. He too had another career and family in his early life but, as he says quoting Shakespeare, ‘All the World’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…’
Ross says for him acting is just an extension of this philosophy. He went into the profession after he was mistaken for a famous actor. This inspired him to step outside of his comfort zone, take acting classes and eventually acting. He mentions an old TV character figure, Mr Ben, who dressed in a different costume to become different character which had always fascinated him. As he points out, this is very much what actors must do. Ross has completed many films, his first being Kilroy. He talks of theatre as being his first love but also being incredibly demanding. He stresses going outside your comfort zone is a good thing, he likes to stretch himself.
Both Lela and Ross spoke of the many technicalities of filming. They met on a blue screen session. This is where you have no scenery, yet you react as if there were. The blue screen is the background, surroundings are added later. In their particular shot they were supposedly viewing paintings in a gallery. A later shoot with blue screen was used for the opening of the shopping centre ‘Icon Siam.’ As is often the case, there were two days of filming to get two minutes of film. Often the actors are not told where it will be used. They stress the industry needs all sorts of material, such as hair, hands, feet, eyes, with a wide variety of ages and sizes of people. Ross tells a funny story of being offered work to model his hands, leading to much confusion.
They talked of how you advertise and sell yourself to agents or directors. Of the preparations needed. A vital one being the com card, or more fully, the composition card. Showing a full profile: age, height, weight, etc. that can be left after a casting call, or audition, or simply sent out as requested. This should list all your special skills and abilities; plus, any experience you have. Portfolio photos should show a variety of angles. Another com card can show a variety of characterisations. A small video clip is often useful. Maybe a Facebook or Instagram page. Then, you take an interest in what’s going on in the business, maybe join Lela’s group where agents often advertise. As you progress, make contacts, as you decide which aspects interest you. Modelling, acting, music, TV, film theatre. Then go for it.
Ross talked of the many aspects going on behind the scenes. The location, or alternative green screen, the makeup, costume, wiring for sound, story board: a comic book type illustration showing the order of scenes and the call sheet, showing times and days for characters. Once on-set you must cope with a mostly foreign language, the tangle of cameras, camera rails, cables and the waiting. It can be a tough and demanding business with shoots often lasting twelve to fifteen hours. Filming can begin early or end late. The other side they stress, is that the group of people involved can become good friends and it can be lots of fun. It is how Lela and Ross met; some casting calls, they say, become a kind of social gathering for the “regulars.”
They have a great body of work, often cast together, with films being shown at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. More recently, Ross is a feature actor in recent film, ‘The Cave’, dealing with the rescue of the soccer team from a cave here in Thailand. He is also in the soon to be released ‘Future sex’. In theatre Ross was one of the jurors in the classic ‘Twelve Angry Men’, plus one called ‘Bangkok Days’. Ross is also writing a book. With Lela playing in Hangover 2, Death trap and the lead as Anna Wintour the designer, she also has had many parts in other movies, or seen modelling famous fashion brands, spas etcetera, too many to mention here.
If you are interested in being an extra or other aspect of show business, Lala’s Facebook Group can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TalentThailand/ . Information on Ross’s films can be found at www.imdb.com/name/nm7210361/.
The presentations were followed by announcements of upcoming events and the Open Forum where questions can be asked or comments made about Expat living in Thailand. To learn more about the PCEC, visit pattayacityexpatsclub.com/.
Member Ren Lexander interviewed Lela Aukes and Ross Cain at the conclusion their presentation. To view the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Vx9xa3fmb8&t=2s