To kick off the new year and new (ish) blog venture, I wanted to shift gears a little by focusing on another area I find fascinating: the film industry. Something that people often overlook is the intersection of film and fashion – one that covers a lot of ground from creating atmosphere to red carpet style to sustainability issues and so on. And to get started, I managed to snag an interview with a Canadian actor on the rise – one who has a James Dean bad boy demeanour peppered with a little Tom Hardy grit.
You might know Dennis from CBC’s hit show Workin’ Moms as Ian Matthews, a doting father, husband and aspiring screenwriter, who quickly won over the audience with his boyish charm and cheeky grin. In the past year alone he appeared in Defective, Dark Matter and Star Trek, and can only tease us with the mention of quite a few upcoming projects he’s been asked to keep in the vault.
I figured, since he can’t spill the film beans, maybe he can give us the scoop on a typical day in the life of an actor, athlete, motorcyclist, writer, artist (ok now he’s just starting to make us look bad!). Read on to see what this up-and-coming star has to say about… a whole lot of things.
First and foremost (and probably for the 100th time), what inspired you to get into acting?
Acting was not an immediate choice for me. In high school, I was working my ass off for a football scholarship, with the hopes of playing professionally. A few too many concussions later, I had to find something else. After spiralling in my academics and a multitude of attempts at different career ideas (all of which I hated), my career counsellor suggested a career doing stunts. I was sold. After telling my high school drama teacher, she recommended that I audition for the school play; a suggestion I had zero interest in, to say the least. She insisted, so I agreed. I ended up booking the lead and fell in love with the entire process. After that play, and a couple of years at a community theatre in Hamilton Ontario, I was hooked… and the rest is history.
What upcoming projects can you tell us about?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you haha. My hands are quite tied in regards to discussing current work to be honest! The industry has a very firm “don’t discuss, don’t post” policy, which is unfortunate but understandable. I can, however, mention that I just finished shooting a great part for an episodic and am in pre-production on another, but unfortunately I cannot say any more at this stage. I’m also working on developing a couple of projects with my team that are currently in the writing and pre-production stage that I’ll be excited to share with people soon.
Give us a peek at the day in the life of a successful actor!
I can’t speak on behalf of all actors, but for me, it’s a life that involves a lot of scheduling and time management. Things come up last minute more than sometimes, so I really live my life on a day-to-day basis.
Shoot days are very much the same. Sometimes you’re up and ready to go before a lot of people hit the snooze button for the first time. Other days you get to “sleep in” but work until the early hours of the morning. Recently, I was working on a project that had me in stunt rehearsals for two weeks leading up to filming. There was a lot more structure and regular hours, but it was taxing in its own physical way. But (and I’m sure I speak for more than just me when I say) I love it. It’s challenging and unpredictable. This is not the kind of profession that works for someone that likes structure and regularity. It’s more of an “edge of your seat” ordeal.
Do you find there is an overlap between film and fashion?
Of course. Fashion and wardrobe are essential for many aspects of film and television. I’ve worked on a film that when I put my suit and watch on, it was the “missing puzzle piece” that allowed me to get into character. In another way, wardrobe sets the tone for the time in which the film is shot, or even a mood it creates. It allows one to stand out or fit in within a scene. It’s just as important as lighting for example, only more noticeable in a lot of circumstances because the characters are wearing them. I’ll extend an olive branch… In Fight Club Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s characters dress polar opposite, however their wardrobe sets just as much tone as Fincher’s (David, the Director) dark and gritty lighting.
Do you find that style or personal branding have an impact on your career?
There are so many factors as to what impacts your career from branding, to talent, networking, or what you bring into the audition room etc. It varies for everyone and everyone is remembered for something different. But one thing is for sure, knowing yourself, your brand and what you bring into a room makes the job a lot easier… and a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
Who are some of your favorite designers or brands?
Well, that depends. With everyday wear I catch myself far too often in Roland Sands Design from California, which are well-designed and thought-out clothes for bikers. I also try to do my part and gear my choices towards sustainable brands like Levi’s for example, who are making some major strides in an environmentally-friendly direction. Or Lululemon for my athletic wear, who are one of the leaders in (more) sustainable fitness attire. The way I see it is: if you buy the right product, you’ll have it a lot longer and you’ll know you’re doing your part to keep things moving in a positive direction.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Deep breath, chin up, seat belt on, and hang on tight… Gonna be a bumpy ride full of failures… until one day you’ll succeed.