Vancouver is well-known as Hollywood North: there are films being shot covertly all over town, various A-listers roam the streets looking stylishly aloof and everywhere, hopefuls audition, seeking the perfect role to put them on the map.
But becoming a successful actor anywhere is a tough endeavour. Plum roles are hard to come by, and competition is fierce.
That’s why Matt McLellan is different: he’s an actor who’s taken his fate into his own hands by writing, directing and starring in his own, locally-produced movie, Tied. And in the meantime, he’s guest-starring on CTV’s Arrow.
I asked him about going his own way, and about his journey in Vancouver.
So you decided not to wait for something to come along – you created Tied. What’s brought you to this point?
I’ve loved and have been inspired by movies my whole life. When I was young I would always be the one filming with my parents’ camcorder. First, it was documenting our vacations, then came creating short skits.
Lately, I’ve decided to build upon that passion, take charge and learn what it goes into producing and directing my own work. I love character-driven films, so I thought I’d write a story focused on the emotional relationships between family.
Tied is definitely character-driven. What will the audience take away?
The film is about a young man trying to make everything work in his life: his business, his relationship with his fiancée and his father who has been mostly absent. I chose to focus on the danger of blindly pursuing goals – it can mean we fail to commit.
There are a lot of people trying to make it in Vancouver as actors, or who are trying to break into the film industry. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced trying to make it?
I’ve always found the audition process petrifying: you’re hyper-aware of the room. Over the years, I’ve learned to relax and enjoy it more. And casting my own film taught me not to take everything so personally.
The hardest part about pursuing an acting career, from my experience, is learning to love and appreciate my day job. It allows me to fund my lifestyle, and fund a large portion of this film.
How would you describe acting in Vancouver?
I attribute most of my success to living in Vancouver – this city has some of the best minds and hearts in the business. I was able to hand-pick the cast, crew and support that ended up creating this film. It was a dream journey and I had done it my way. I truly could not have done that in any other city.
What’s your best advice for anyone pursuing an acting career in Vancouver?
Be diligent with your training, understand your brand and what makes you tick, learn from everyone, treat people with mounds of compassion, have a life away from the camera.
Independence is a hard concept for most actors to grasp in Vancouver. But through Tied, I was able to find it. I would like other actors, writers, and filmmakers to know there’s value in creating something themselves. If we continue to take risks, the landscape of this industry might continue to shift and more brilliant films from meagre budgets will be seen.
*End of Interview*
You can see Matt on the November 5 episode of Arrow on CTV.
Feature Image: Matt McLellan