“It’s definitely a one man journey, but that journey is littered with relationships that can and will support you along the way, if you allow them to.”
Interview by Joanne Kmaid
Love your hat trends! Is that your funky charisma or a public persona?
[Laughs]. Probably a bit of both! I consider myself to be pretty scruffy looking most of the time, which is probably considered funky in some circles. My charm comes out of my occasional habit of being a class clown, I think. There are certain things in the day-to-day of life that, for sanity’s sake, you just can’t take too seriously.
How would you describe your journey into the indie film industry?
I’ve always had a fascination with film. Despite starting my acting career in theatre, I actually attended film school at Swinburne University before I ever studied acting (not including high school drama). So I developed skills and techniques of writing, directing, producing, and also studied the theory behind film and film history. Straight after that, I dived into acting study at 16th Street Actors Studio. Acting has always been my first love. It’s what I find the most exhilarating and it is what I do best. Thanks to the skills learned and experience gained in film school, I can confidently create my own work. My computer is full of scripts at varied stages of completion that I’ve written over the years. I’m currently in pre-production for one of them in which I’ll be playing the lead role. That’s probably the best way to describe my journey – It’s been a mission of mine to learn as much as I can in order to be self-reliant when times are tough.
Do you pursue fun roles or paid opportunities?
It’s still early days in my career as an actor, so I tend to pursue both. It’s far more satisfying when the character is poignant and the story has an important message to relay. It’s even better when they are one and the same. It’s important to bring up the fact that so many actors go unpaid for their time and efforts. It’s one thing to do a student film or a community theatre piece for free, I’ve done plenty, but another to devote so much of your blood, sweat and tears to a large-scale professional production for little or no pay. I believe it’s the trickle-down effect of having so much money stripped from the industry over the years.
In an industry that showers rejection, what keeps you motivated?
Confidence in my own ability and a love for the craft. I tend to not take rejection personally; instead, I just treat the audition room as another opportunity to act. I’m confident in myself that I am good at what I do and I’m only going to get better at it, and that helps me not take rejection as a comment on my ability. Also, the fact that I am able to create my own work keeps me from lingering over rejections. I can just go back to working on my own projects; I have fun doing this as well. There are moments of hair tearing and barks of frustration, but for the most part, it’s just fun and that’s a powerful motivation.
Is it a one man journey or team effort?
It’s definitely a one man journey, but that journey is littered with relationships that can and will support you along the way, if you allow them to. Case in point, I founded a theatre company that now operates in film as well back in 2015 with fellow actor, Katarina Viva Schøller. Under our banner, NewCharacter Productions, we produced and acted in Gruesome Playground Injuries, by Rajiv Joseph, at Melbourne Fringe. That production, which was my first foray into producing theatre, was definitely a team effort. From the pair of us as actors/producers, to the director, the production designer, the lighting designer, the make-up and special effects artist all the way to our family and friends who donated to our crowd-funding campaign. We all came together to realise this incredible piece of art. At the end of the day, if you (the actor) do not show up having done your work, which only you can do with yourself, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot. That significant teamwork might have led to the next level of individual opportunities had you brought your A-game. It’s your life when all is said and done, but you have to create and take opportunities when they arrive. Throughout your career, each piece of work will likely be the result of a collective coming together and saying, “Let’s make some art today.”
Would you consider an overseas career move?
Definitely, I go where the work is. My goal as an actor and film/theatre maker is to tell stories that are worth telling; to create art that means something and has the power to affect viewers in a profound way. To me, that goal is borderless.
Reveal one personal thing about yourself that only a few know…
This is a difficult one… I’ve never read past book three in the Harry Potter series. I suppose that would be shocking and offensive to some people! [Laughs].
Which actor or mentor inspires you to kick goals?
As a young artist, I am blessed to have so many to choose from. The obvious ones are my mentors from 16th Street Actors Studio – Kim Krejus, the founder, Kerry Armstrong, Justin Lehmann and Jason Raftopoulos. Also the teachers from America who have come down and worked with me at 16th Street – Elizabeth Kemp, Larry Moss (he is the reason I went to 16th Street in the first place) and Carl Ford. Ford has actually been one of the most important figures in my life recently. I have flown up to New York a couple of times to work with him. He has the rare ability to reveal hidden pathways after talking to you for barely ten minutes. I am so grateful to learn from many inspiring figures in these early years.
What brings you more joy – An accomplished project or working with new artists?
That’s tricky! There is an incredible amount of contemporary works being made at the moment by the next generation of greats that I would love to be a part of. Many of my peers from film school are starting to hit their stride in the film industry. It would be incredible to work with them, and in some cases, I already am. It would be a dream come true to work on a piece of theatre by Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams. I would sprint through the street, screaming with joy if the chance came along to work with an established legend, like Paul Thomas Anderson or Terrence Malick. So I suppose the answer is, working on a good project, whether the names attached are old or new, brings great joy.
What is the best thing life has dealt your way?
I am privileged to have been born in a developed country where being an actor is an available profession. I was also born into a family that highly values education, knowledge and strong work ethics. Those advantages are priceless and I don’t take them for granted.
This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia contributor Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration please contact us today.