Friday, June 23, 2017
Gold medal-winning diver who made the plunge into casting

Gold medal-winning diver who made the plunge into casting

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Chris Snode at the Casting Directors Association awards

Chris Snode used to be one of the biggest names in world diving, long before Tom Daly was a twinkle in his dad’s eye.

So the former Team GB competitor certainly knew how to take the plunge.

He had to do that again after ending his career in the pool – when he created his own castingagency for actors and models.

And these days he is creating careers for people who never dreamt of modelling, like window cleaners and hairdressers, as well as people he got to know in the sport, from his unobtrusive office in Church Road, Crystal Palace.

In his new industry, one of his main claims to fame is that he is the man who gave £10million-a-movie megastar Jason Statham his first acting job, when the actor was just a diver in his teens training at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

Mr Snode, 57, won gold in the men’s 3m springboard event at the first ever FINA Diving World Cup held in The Woodlands, Texas in 1979.

He was a member of the British Olympic team in 1976, 1980 and 1984. He was the 3m springboard and 10m platform diving champion at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, and again in both events at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

After that, he was a diving coach at Crystal Palace for several years, but is now focusing on his agency – and was nominated for an award in the Casting Directors’ Association’s annual gongs on March 17 at St Etheldreda’s Church Crypt in Holborn.

Mr Snode, who this week was looking for teenage girl footballers to work for £5,000 a day, said: “I’m very happy to be nominated for this award after 30 years of casting.

“The diversity award is an honour, as we have cast many diverse ads in the past, and to be recognised for this project is fantastic.

“For this commercial for Apple iPhone 7 we cast a superb 70-year-old retired Italian diver living in Belgium, and we loved being able to utilise the skills of such a wonderful, talented sportsman.”

Mr Snode’s choice for the advert, Giovanni, was retired and penniless at the time of casting. Since starring in the advert, plunging 20m from a high platform, his life has been transformed.

“The client wanted an interesting look, with character,” said Mr Snode.

“Giovanni was so happy, because he finally had respect from his friends for diving.

“He made $40,000.”

Mr Snode, originally from Sutton, went to the Olympics in Canada in 1976 at the age of just 17. And he didn’t come back for eight years.

“I studied graphic design at the University of Florida on a sports scholarship,” he said.

“By 1984, I had done the sporty bit – and I had the tan because I had been training outside for eight years.

“There wasn’t a lot of money in diving but I did know a lot of sports people with skills and great bodies.

“Rather than just being models, I found they leant themselves well to other jobs in casting.

“I had already done some work for British Airways when I was a diver.

“Through that, I began to be asked about getting people for similar jobs. I became a lot more involved – people asking me to find particular types, like a sumo for one job.

“Just by knowing someone, or knowing someone who knew someone, it developed into a business, all through my contacts as a diver.

“I would use people and get jobs in China, Russia and the USA. I have recently done a job in Japan.

“It was hard at the beginning, but now it’s really exciting trying to solve the problems it throws up.”

Mr Snode himself didn’t think of casting himself for the iPhone job.

“I did the London Marathon in 2004 and have not done any exercise since then,” he said.

“I broke my foot three weeks before the run but still did it in 4hrs 40mins, even if that was an hour slower than my target time.”

Mr Statham keeps in slightly better shape. “I knew him when he was just a 15-year-old diver,” said the former champ.

“I got him his first big job – I think it was for Gap or something. I don’t get any commission from him any more – that was only while I was getting him work, sadly.”

Chief Reporter | Former news reporter on Daily Mail and Times, former editor in Edinburgh and Barnet. Sports editor and father for 15 years. Once made nine doormats for Harrods entrances. They lasted two years.

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Gold medal-winning diver who made the plunge into casting