Character Building

Including in-conversation sessions with Maxine Peake, Gamba Cole and Sally Potter, our 2021 masterclasses offer a wide range of opportunities to gain insights into the work of successful and inspiring actors, directors, writers and casting departments. Here we highlight some of our most exciting sessions on acting and casting.

A Rising Director: In conversation with Prano Bailey-Bond

She needs no introduction. Her recent success is a huge achievement. Prano Bailey-Bond won the Best Experimental Film at Aesthetica in 2013 for Man vs Sand and then screened Nasty with us, but with her debut feature film, Censor, Bailey-Bond is quickly becoming one of the UK’s most exciting rising stars with even Mark Kermode saying she is “a razor-sharp filmmaker” and Variety saying that the “visuals are guaranteed to sear themselves into your subconscious.” Victoria Emslie, Director of Primetime, will speak with Prano about developing her career and recent success.

3 November, Virtual Only, Channel 1

The Art of Casting 

As public debate about on-screen representation continues, and colour/gender-blind approaches enter the mainstream, more attention than ever is being paid to casting. Yet whilst casting departments are beginning to be more widely recognised – in 2020 BAFTA introduced a dedicated category for the first time – their work remains mysterious to many. Casting Director Hannah Marie Williams (Backstage) and Nicci Topping share their secrets, discussing the process of matching actors to roles.

4 November, York Explore & Available On Demand 

Empowering Storytelling: Maxine Peake in Conversation 

One of the UK’s best loved actors joins us for an inspiring and energising masterclass. BAFTA- and BIFA-nominee Maxine Peake is renowned for her versatility across stage and screen, having begun acting in her teenage years, joining the Octagon Youth Theatre in Bolton before enjoying a spell at the youth theatre of the Royal Exchange in Manchester. Since then, her credits have included Shameless, Peterloo and Black Mirror. Peake joins us to discuss acting as authorship and the secrets of empowered storytelling.

4 November, Virtual Only, Channel 1

A Rising Star: Gamba Cole 

British rising star Gamba Cole is set to have a standout year in 2021 with the lead of Christian in Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws for BBC/Amazon opposite Christopher Walken and Eleanor Tomlinson.Gamba can recently be seen as Anton in Amazon’s Hanna as well as playing Benny in Lionsgate’s The Protégé alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton. He is perhaps best known for his role as Malcolm in BBC’s Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle with Lenny Henry. Join Gamba as he discusses interpreting a myriad of roles.

5 November, Virtual Only, Channel 1

Harry Macqueen in Conversation 

First emerging as a filmmaker with Hinterland, a Radio One inspired travelogue, writer-director Harry Macqueen’s second feature is the hugely acclaimed Supernova. An assured depiction of a long-term relationship under duress from advancing illness, the film features touching performances from the critically acclaimed Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth. Macqueen joins Jason Wood (HOME) for an illustrated talk about his career, working with Tucci and his own enduring love of road movies, British and otherwise.

5 November, Yorkshire Museum, Channel 2

A Radical Gaze: Sally Potter in Conversation 

Sally Potter is a legendary filmmaker whose ground-breaking films have earned her a rightful place in cinema history. Trained as a dancer, Potter moved into filmmaking in the 1970s, forging a reputation as a fiercely feminist filmmaker with films such as The Golddiggers, Orlando and The Party. Her most recent film, a nonlinear drama The Road Not Taken, demonstrates that she remains a filmmaker of rare vision and imagination. Potter joins us for a live streamed in-conversation which we will screen in the venue.

5 November, Yorkshire Museum, Channel 2

Close UP: Alice Seabright

Alice Seabright is known for smart, funny and distinctive films exploring sex, relationships and female perspectives. Alongside numerous shorts, Seabright has written and directed episodes of Netflix hit Sex Education. In 2019, she was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow, and she is currently showrunner on Chloe, a forthcoming six-part thriller for the BBC and Amazon. A mini-retrospective will be followed by an in-person conversation with the director, discussing their journey into film.

6 November, Yorkshire Museum, Channel 

Asif Kapadia in Conversation

Academy Award, four-time BAFTA-winning and recent Grierson Award garlanded filmmaker Asif Kapadia has worked across both fiction and documentary with credits including The Warrior (starring the late, great Irrfan Khan), Senna, Amy and the recent Diego Maradona. In this illustrated masterclass with Jason Wood (HOME) Kapadia discusses his extensive career, influences and hopes for a more diverse industry and his pioneering work in creating hugely influential portraits of often flawed and troubled icons.

7 November, Yorkshire Museum, Channel 2

Amit Gupta in Conversation

Acclaimed theatre, television and film director Amit Gupta joins us to discuss his meteoric career. Starting out with the razor-sharp 2009 short film Love Story, Amit has gone on to direct award-winning features Resistance, Jadoo and One Crazy Thing and is working on numerous high-end television series, including most recently being lead director on His Dark Materials – The Amber Spyglass for the BBC and HBO. With an array of projects in development, Amit offers invaluable insight into the life of a writer-director.

7 November, Yorkshire Museum, Channel 2

Backstage Presents Craig Roberts : Working Across Acting and Directing 

British actor, director, writer and producer Craig Roberts’ third directorial feature, The Phantom Of The Open, starring Mark Rylance and written by Simon Farnaby, will be released this Autumn by Sony Pictures Classics. Craig’s second directorial effort, Eternal Beauty, a poignant film about mental health starring Sally Hawkins, was nominated for five BAFTA Cymru Awards. His breakthrough role was Oliver Tate in Richard Ayoade’s Submarine. Hear him speak about his career as he offers insight into multiple roles in the film industries.

7 November, Virtual Only, Channel 1


Masterclasses will run in-person in York, UK, from 2-7 November. Most sessions will also be recorded and will be available to stream on our virtual platform until 30 November. Learn more about our masterclasses here. Tickets start from £25. Discover our pass options here.