“You have to be exceptionally resilient, be prepared for many knocks to your confidence, and still get up every morning and find the joy in what you do.”
Interview by Joanne Kmaid
Actor, Director, Photographer, Videographer. You have achieved diverse careers that people dream of. Do you prefer one over the other?
Honestly, acting has always been my passion for as long as I can remember. I lost sight of it for a while due to low confidence when I was younger, but I eventually got back into it. I started my photography business and started directing to gain work stability, so I could focus on my acting career. It keeps me sane that when I’m not acting, I have something creative that I can sink my teeth into. Often people will say, “Oh maybe you should just focus on one,” but I enjoy the diversity. I get to wake up and do something new every day. This scares a lot of people who love routine and fear change. Personally, I love the challenge and it keeps me active.
Tell us about your upcoming feature film, PRIMAL.
PRIMAL was born out of love for the horror and thriller genres, and is set to carve out its own piece of Australian Cinema history as something truly unique. It’s also a tip of the hat to fellow filmmakers, Leigh Whannell and James Wan, who created the Saw franchise. The key difference in PRIMAL compared to other films in the same vein is that the focus is on psychological horror. It’s not about torture porn or blood and gore for shock value. I want to shock people in other ways. It will force audiences to think outside the square as the protagonist has to solve his way through a plethora of unpredictable puzzles as part of a disturbing test of the human condition.
Are you looking to cast Melbourne Actors and film crew?
I will be shooting a short film version first within the next few months to gain International interest. At this stage, the entire cast and crew are Melbourne based for the short version. Joshua Hoareau of Cinestudios Entertainment will be directing both the short version of PRIMAL and the feature as I’ve worked with him before. Once completed, we will be pitching the feature version to U.S. and U.K. Production Companies and Investors. Joshua is definitely one to keep an eye on. We have another feature, Peacekeepers, slated for 2017. I’m attached to that, as well as Paul O’Brien of Home and Away fame.
We know the film industry is not all glamour. What has been your challenge climbing the wall?
My biggest challenge has been navigating the ups and downs of the Australian Film Industry whilst keeping a positive outlook. You can go months without having an audition. No point attaching too much weight to those auditions when they do come around, especially if you don’t book the role. Often you can put in a solid performance, but you might have the wrong hair colour or look too young or too old for a particular role. When that happens, you have to believe that the right role will come along. Stay focused on keeping your skills sharp. Attend acting classes, write and produce your own projects or put on independent theatre. You have to be exceptionally resilient, be prepared for many knocks to your confidence, and still get up every morning and find the joy in what you do.
Your website is dedicated to educating and inspiring people to succeed within the film industry. That is a rare and impressive trait.
Ah, is there a question in there? (laughs). I love helping people especially when it comes to anything film related. It’s a tough industry and difficult to get any information about where to start and how to make a career out of it. It would have been easier if someone had offered me that sort of information when I was younger. When I got back into acting and noticed that there were patterns in those who made it through, I decided to share that information. I’ve been blogging and creating YouTube videos ever since. My main aim is to educate aspiring actors on the pitfalls of the Industry and how to make smart choices right from the beginning. I make sure that people understand that it’s something you have to be in for the right reasons. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul as there is no such thing as overnight success.
Any plans to visit Hollywood to expand your career?
I actually went to L.A. for 2 months at the end of last year to take part in the Hollywood Immersive Program, which is a crash course to understanding how Hollywood works. I made some amazing connections and came away with U.S. Management at Gold Rush Talent which I am thrilled about. I plan to move there early next year.
Our loss is their gain. Why are you so keen to live in L.A. when you’re doing well here?
Because I love the energy of that town and I’m more interested in American cinema and TV. Also L.A. is more conducive to every aspect of what I do, whether it’s Acting, Photography or Writing. In Australia, you realize pretty quickly that to make good money as a creative, you have to go where the work is.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon – Both Actors have earned prolific careers and it wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter. Jeremy Renner made his mark winning a Spirit Award for his portrayal of the infamous cannibal serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. He didn’t get paid for that film; it was a passion project, and I love that it was the film that helped him land his breakout role in The Hurt Locker. Now he’s kicking ass in films like The Avengers and Mission Impossible.
Matt Damon co-wrote Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck, one of my favourite films. Not only was it the film that launched his career, but they got it made on their own terms. They even went as far as writing erotic sex scenes into the script between Will (Matt Damon) and Sean (Robin Williams) as they felt that the original Production Company, Castle Rock, weren’t reading their re-writes. Turns out they weren’t, so Matt and Ben got Miramax to buy the rights to the film, so they could get it done the right way. To me, those stories are inspiring as it highlights the need to back yourself and trust that what you’ve got is worth fighting for.
Apart from moving to America, what is your next fulfilling step in life?
I’d like to buy my first property which will most likely be in the U.S. Also, I really want to get dogs, two of them in fact. I’ve already lined up names for them (laughs). Rusky the Husky and Roo the Alaskan Malimut. They will be the basis of the children’s book I want to write with my Dad. He inspired me to become an actor, so I figure it’s fitting that we create something fun together and leave a legacy.
Sounds like you’re a family man…
Yeah, I’m definitely family oriented. We’re the type of family that gets together for dinners, discusses things over home cooked meals then drinks wine and plays trivial pursuit until the wee hours of the morning. A bit like an Aussie Partridge Family, I guess! (laughs). Every time we get together, ridiculous stories come out of our combined antics; pretty sure that 2 members of my family aren’t allowed at a certain holiday apartment complex in Byron after our last reunion (laughs). We’re all driven which is great; we just saw my middle brother Kieran off to L.A. yesterday as he won his green card. He’s an actor too so it’s great to have that commonality! My aim is to follow in February of 2016 on a 01 Visa and go from there. What’s awesome is that our entire family is behind us, not telling us to get a real job or not to follow our dreams. They’re good like that. Long term, I hope to have a family of my own as I’ve always wanted to be a Dad. Probably won’t happen until I’m 40 and have some serious Richard Gere white hair going through (laughs).
Finally, leave us with some personal and encouraging words.
Never stop learning. Whatever it is you are passionate about in life, go and educate yourself and keep the hunger for knowledge alive. It’s that burning desire to better yourself that will lead you on the most incredible journey and help you find like-minded friends along the way.
This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia reader and supporter Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration then contact us today.