I want to spotlight Steven Bartle: an actor, writer, and producer who currently resides in London. Originally from Sheffield, Bartle was a Royal Marines Commando until 2010, when he was injured in an attack that left him blind in one eye and unable to continue in the service. The young man was determined to make a fresh start, which came to be in his passion for acting. The 26-year-old was happy to Skype with me recently to discuss his career and reveal his upcoming projects.
How did you decide to get into acting?
I always wanted to be an actor. However, I never had the courage to do it. I never believed in myself. I went and joined the [Royal] Marines. After that [ended], I was just overcoming some very dark personal issues. I was starting to really think that I may as well come out of that and pursue what I really want in life and not be scared anymore. I went and started doing little acting classes in Sheffield, where I was based, to get some foundation of what it was going to be like. Obviously, the style of training is much different when you get outside of London. It wasn’t enough. I did it for a couple of months. I realized if I was going to take this seriously and make it a chief aim in my life, I needed to be in the correct location. That’s why I sold my house, gave everything up, and moved to London! I didn’t look back and it was the best decision of my life, to be honest.
You have your own company, Bartle Productions. How has working as a writer, producer, and actor helped you?
When it comes to writing a storyline, I find that I’m quite creative in that sense. When it comes to writing dialogue to fill that story up, I’m terrible. I’m not that good at that bit. But it helps because it gives you freedom to bring what you’ve got in your mind and take it through a creation process: being a producer and getting actors, locations, and everything you need. Then you give it to people on the production who see exactly what’s going on in your crazy mind. With the benefit of writing and producing, it gives me a lot of power over the decisions that need to be made in a film.
Tell us about one of your upcoming projects, ‘Recoil.’
Recoil follows the story of Alex, who is a former Royal Marines Commando. He is going down a dark and suicidal path, seeking vengeance against the men who ended his career, relationship, and nearly his life. It’s not until he meets a female, Susie, that his obsessions with revenge are called into question. She shows him a bit of care and compassion. What’s significant is that the story is based on true events. The whole story happened to me and was the reason why I left the Marines.
Is there a message that you’re hoping to bring to other former service members with your short film?
That does come into it, yeah. I can only really go on what I experienced then. I can’t speak for other military personnel, who can pick what they relate to when they see the film. The mental struggles that I was going through – I felt extremely alone. It wasn’t really all to do being in the military and coming back from Afghanistan.
I was involved in an altercation in my hometown and it left me getting badly injured. I was vulnerable at that time because that attack left me paranoid. The depression of losing my career made me kind of rebel against the Marines when they discharged me. I felt they’d given up on me. I imagine that could be a common thing with other service personnel who are medically discharged. People are going to take different things out of the film. The main aim here is to bring to life a true story and create a beautiful piece of cinema. We’ve adapted little bits of the storyline because it needs to be more cinematic.
Who is on your team for Recoil?
It’s an exciting project! I’ll be producing it. We’ve currently got Nick Cohen directing it. He’s well known for Doctors and Eastenders here. We’ve also got Mark Forstater as another producer. He’s known for working on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There’s Steven Cameron Ferguson, who won two Scottish BAFTAs last year and that’s huge.
Alongside myself in the cast, we’ve got Sean Cronin, who is well known for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mummy, and even J.K. Rowlings new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Another cast member is Sabine Crossen, who played in Hitman and Lord of the Rings a few years back. Finally, there’s Kevin Leslie, who led in both The Rise of the Krays and The Fall of the Krays as Reggie Kray. We’re very excited to get cracking at that. We’re shooting Recoil in October.
Here is the latest teaser trailer for Recoil: