Valentin Ducept, ex-Acting in English Student now in London
- Can you tell us about your background before starting your studies in the Acting in English department at Cours Florent in Paris?
I got in touch with acting at the age of 10 when I started to take amateur classes after school (after I had tried Judo classes and it was a pretty bad experience…). Then my parents moved house and I became really shy and was just waiting for those teen years to be over. After high school, I didn’t know what to do… I knew I didn’t want to go to college. It wasn’t for me. I’ve always had this thing for characters and personalities but I didn’t know where I could express it. So my mother signed me up to this workshop at Cours Florent over the Christmas holidays and it was a great experience. I worked in a warehouse over the summer to save up and 8 months later I was moving to Paris to start at Cours Florent. I did the first year in French with Melissa Broutin who was a great introduction to Cours Florent and then moved on to Acting in English for the last 2 years with Fabrice Scott, Isabelle Duperray and Peter Vickers.
- How did your training at Cours Florent prepare you for your current life in London?
Let me tell you that those three years at Cours Florent were nothing but easy-peasy! Being an actor or a creator brings a lot of wonder to your soul and body. You might end up thinking one day: “No one’s going to want me in that industry, I’m not cocky or handsome enough or even bootlicker to do this job?” And then the next day comes the answer: “Yes but that’s what I want to do with my life so the hell with them!” Plus let’s face it; you have a lot to deal with ego, self-consciousness and the desire to be loved. Be that you or your classmates. And that is for sure harmful.
So Cours Florent left me with a lot of worries which happens to be a great thing because I’m finally starting to realise that I just have to expose myself with my imperfections and qualities and not trying to please anyone. And London is great for that, because it’s an international city no one is going to look at you with that critical look saying: “How dare you?” So the full training at Cours Florent made me ready and strong enough to experience London and my adult life in general.
- Why did you decide to build your career both in Paris and in London?
There are both great cities with a lot of artistic opportunities if you know where to find them. But the question is not really about a certain city but more like about cultural differences. What can I get from London that I won’t find in Paris? For example in London, life is much more dynamic than Paris but also more expensive. London is often grey, food is a difficult topic but people are more civilised so it’s a whole different balance. And the stage is great! If you’ve never seen a show on West End, it’s never too late. I have seen the best productions in London with incredible actors and amazing turning set designs. I directed one as well but not on West End. Not yet!
And acting is really taught differently there. You really engage everything and you better know your craft. In any way those famous London Drama schools like Lamda, Rada, Central and more are great to get the techniques but it’s also a good thing to have just a basic job to see how life is on the ground. Fiction is based on reality after all. And believe me it’s not just Downton Abbey sometimes… But you need everything to make a diverse world, right?
To sum up all the things I can’t find in Paris are really driving my ambitions and inspiration. By extension I like to believe that my international career is just a couple of years away from me!
- What do you remember about your first workshop experience at Cours Florent?
The first workshop I did at Cours Florent was in December 2012. The teacher was Atisso Medessou and it was a camera workshop which was great since I had stage experience but not camera. I spent the whole week with perfect strangers at first. We did different exercises. It felt safe.
- What advice would you give a future workshop participant/student at Cours Florent?
Do I really have to answer this question? I’m not really a model here... Ok, this is exactly what I didn’t do but should have done, I think:
Be open to what your classmates or teacher say about you and your work but never take it personally. I mean NEVER. That’s true: you work with yourself, your body, your mind etc but the one on stage is not you, it’s a character with a tiny bit of yourself. You’re just an instrument. But it takes time to get the idea and actually do it.
Don’t play with yourself but with your partner. The answer is in the one you’re facing, that’s why you’re talking to him or her, right?
Don’t wait for people to applause you or to put you in their shows. Never expect.
- Do you have any ongoing projects or upcoming ones?
I collaborated with a friend on the development of the first season of a TV show that’s happening in the world of scents after WWI in the south of France. I also wrote the first season of a sitcom and I wrote a couple of months ago a full-length screenplay that is in consideration at the Cannes Screenplay Contest. I’ve also got some ideas not on the paper yet. Anyway, I always have something on the go. So producers I need you!