Making a living
Of course, it isn't easy to turn acting into a career, especially when it comes to making money. “Acting is a very unpredictable profession. But that's also part of the excitement of it - you don't know what's going to come up next,” he says.
Ben uses Starling to manage his multiple income streams and sets up Goals to save for specific projects. Through Goals, Starling customers can set a target and move money from their everyday balance into that space, keeping it separate but visible.
Voice overs are his main source of income. It's flexible, doesn't require travelling to a specific studio and often pays more than acting jobs. “I was always looking for something more stable, to provide that base I needed, to do the work I really wanted to do - films I wanted to write, theatre scripts.” One of his Starling Goals is for his upcoming film, The Scent of Dogs.
From acting to writing
Ben wrote his first play in his final year of drama school when he secured a place on the young writers programme at the Royal Court Theatre. On the strength of the play he wrote during the programme, he was invited to join the theatre’s Studio writers group. He continued to write for other theatres but the feedback he received was that his plays were too cinematic. “I wrote plays that jumped timeframes and locations,” he says.
In 2010, he wrote his first film script. “I prefer writing for film. When an audience goes to the theatre, they often look for the lesson in the play or a bigger meaning. With films, people quite often like to go and see a story. I love storytelling. That’s the link between acting and writing,” he says.
He also sees a connection between film and football. “In football, you have a strict structure - a first half and a second half and it lasts 90 minutes, exactly the length a film would be,” he says. “Something major might happen at the midpoint and then everything leads up to a climax.”
The first feature length film he wrote, Oslo to Copenhagen, is currently in post-production. It tells the story of a successful businesswoman, who takes her partner and a brilliant, young employee on a boat to Copenhagen, with the ulterior motive of asking the employee to be her surrogate. Ben wrote the script in English and it was translated into Norwegian and filmed in Norway.
Later this year, Ben is producing a feature length film he's written called The Scent of Dogs. It tells the story of Greer, who is dying from a brain tumour, and her brother Michael, whom Ben will play. “It's going to be very difficult to make it happen on such a small budget. There are scenes in the alps and on the DFDS ferry from Dover to Calais,” he says.
Ben, who has been a Starling customer since the beginning of 2018, set up a Starling Goal to help him set money aside to produce the film. Other features of the account that Ben finds useful include receiving notifications when money moves in or out of the account and the automatic categorisation of outgoings.