I had the honor of interviewing actor, production coordinator, and producer Benedict Chau, check out his stuff-
Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your acting
BC: I dropped out of University to help my parents sell their business, and stumbled around lost, once they had sold it. Eventually, I wandered in to an amateur theater company called Stargate Actors Academy. (2006)
There, we were trained to be self-sufficient in makeup, costuming and the usual aspects of theater. Being proud, and stupid of it, I put my best efforts into physical theater, comedy, and inner dialogue. It was also from Stargate, my lecturer, John McPherson(who looks like Welsh Comedian Rob Brydon); who pushed me towards trying film.
Acting is interesting. I find it layered depending on the script and three factors that play upon the actor when they’re “being”.
One: The actor/performer, themselves.
Two: The surroundings, this includes other actors/performers. (Aside from props and the set)
Three: The audience. i.e. film, television or live events.
Plus, I think having Eastern parents, but growing up in a Western culture, (my parents never pushed their culture on to my brothers and I) has given to me a lack of identity which really helps with wanting to mimic or blend in.
At the end of the day though, I’m a prop for the story.
Guilty admission, I have stolen a theater review from one performance though, and I was just serving drinks at the time. (Might have been a tad drunk too)
Me: Awesome!, so Stargate played a huge role in you becoming who we see today?
BC: Stargate did. It has been my family for three years. It’s been the most solid company I’ve worked, with in comparison to current screen acting courses available in Perth.
Me: Awesome!, and you did theater there?, what are some roles/productions you did?
BC: Oliver Twist was my first introduction in to theater, I played Noah Claypole, and was beaten up on stage by a 13yr old girl playing Oliver. For that performance, I was also required to sing(My greatest performance anxiety)and perform as six or seven other characters. It was a steep learning curve, but one I needed.
I did enjoy playing a flying monkey in Wizard of Aus(Parody). I made a costume from two fur rugs and had a 3 meter wingspan. I got a lot of hugs in that suit, and people pulling on my tail.
I wear that suit when I stay up late writing sometimes. It is a great set of winter pajamas, aside from sitting on a tail.
I cannot recall much, but I do remember Family Tree, Blame it on the Boogie, University Lockdown, and Singles X.
I always felt ashamed of Family Tree. I know I shouldn’t, but I always wanted to know the audience’s impression of the character I played. Did they see him as a pervert or a misunderstood character.
Grease was fun. Not my favorite, but fun. I had shaven my head to get the appearance of a receding hairline for Coach Calhoun. I kept the receding hairline, made a fat suit, and grew a moustache for a short film, to play a police chief… oddly enough I did have the police follow me to his set.
Me: Sounds like you’ve done alot!, and outside of theater, what are some projects you’ve been involved in?”
BC: Outside of theater, being a stunt stand-in for a Japanese ad for Lipovitan D. 95F in 70% humidity, stuck clinging to a desert cliff, is always a riot amongst film crew. I know it’s not a role, but the job was fun.
Aside from dying multiple times in short films and a few features, spending half a day on the set of Kill Me Three Times as a lighting stand-in for Bryan Brown. I did it as a favor to a colleague. I was dressed to stand-in for Luke Hemsworth, but directives change. Again, not a role, but it was fun to be on a good set with a few familiar faces.
If I did have a favorite role, it’s Kevin from the upcoming film, Zombie Ninjas VS Black Ops. I know that sounds like advertising, and it is, but the character originally never had a name and was fairly stock. After working with the lead, Adam Perkins(who named the character); I gave Kevin a bit of my fears and I think it shows.”
Me: Awesome!, so zombie ninjas vs. Black ops is your movie this year?, along with broken contract?, can you tell us some about both of those?, along with your roles
BC: Zombie Ninjas VS Black Ops is… exactly how it sounds. It is an action-thriller and was produced by FastBreak Films, who are the enterprising Rody and Kylie Claude. They are also currently running the prologue of the film as an animated web comic, available on Youtube. Which I think is a unique idea.
Confidentiality agreements, obviously, stop me from talking about the film, but I played the character of Kevin, who is the janitor employed at Saisei industries. I’ve already dropped a bean, having mentioned actor Adam Perkins(the lead) named my character.
Working behind the scenes, since we all pitched in and doubled up on a few roles… I can tell you, it was incredibly exhausting, but positive, to be on that film set… and I think it’s Perth’s first REAL action film.
Amazing highlight, it was super great to work with MMA buttkicker, Soa “The Hulk” Palelei.
… and I am so happy, he didn’t step on me.
Zombie Ninjas VS Black Ops is being released in October.
Broken Contract follows the luckless life of a strip club owner named Max. With a drug dealer trying to move business in to his club, Max gets desperate and hires a hitman, a hitman he cannot comprehend, but can afford.
Broken Contract is still in post-production. It is an action-comedy, but after the test screening, I feel it’s more of a drama with comedic elements. I haven’t seen the latest edits, so I may get a few laughs yet.
I, oddly enough, was the co-producer of this film, and to be honest; I felt they didn’t heed my advice as well as they should have. I can only explain it like this, if you’re going to write for film or make a film; you need to be aware of what resources you can access easily and by the budget allocated.
What I did gain from my experience on Broken Contract was learning to respect the Production Office. We all love watching films and seeing our favorite stars, but kudos to all those people behind the scenes. So much awesome.
Now, I know that’s not a big sale for a film I co-produced, but I want to be honest. There’s an undeniable stigma in Perth’s Film Industry, and it is a lot of the “Hollywood phonies” for such a small isolated city. If that makes any sense… I hope other filmmakers know what I’m talking about.
Me: You mentioned it being Perth’s first real action movie, for those of us that aren’t too familiar with the Australian film industry, Mad Max was filmed elsewhere?, and other actions were filmed in Australia too, just not in Perth?
BC: The majority of Australian film and television is filmed over in the Eastern states. Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. As you already know, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie was filmed in Queensland.
The original Mad Max was shot in Victoria. The recent Mad Max: Fury Road, was primarily filmed in Namibia, Southern Africa. I’m pretty sure a few scenes were filmed in Victoria.
There have been a few action films in Australia, but they have been primarily, international films. Films like Ghostrider, Superman Returns, and The Matrix.
I will say there is a lot of post-production work that gets handled here for big “blockbuster” type films, Prometheus, a few Harry Potter films, and The Avengers.
All of which I have mentioned, have spent more time developed over in the Eastern states.
Now I’ve mentioned Perth(Western Australia)having a film industry, but the reality is Perth is in the attempt to build a film industry. I think one of Perth’s biggest film projects was Son of a Gun, starring Ewan McGregor… directed by Julius Avery. I was only there as an extra, so I’ve no real clout on the film, but I do remember it being a drama/thriller. Not entirely filmed in W.A. though.
Perth has had a few action shorts, but nothing so as frenetic in pacing or as a (micro-budget?)feature film as Zombie Ninjas VS Black Ops.
Me: And not action, but filmed in Perth, was rabbit proof fence, so Perth is an up and coming film market?, and you’re a part of it on the acting and production sides?
BC: Perth is an up and coming market, but I feel we’re still two or three years before a major turnaround. Perth filmies(myself included)could also learn from more internationally experienced crews.
I have played a role on both sides, and will probably continue to do so. Currently, I am assisting on the nano-budget feature Wrong Night Stand, and I still have a few film projects to go.
Me: Why 2 1/2 or so years?, and IMDB lists you as the production coordinator on demons and Raven’s cabin
BC: Seems a nice enough number? Seriously though, I suppose I have been watching grass grow in Perth, but it’s development has been slow. Lack of available resources, technologies, experienced crews, investment capital, advertising, and creative intellect. I refer to creative intellect on the development of a film project, as not just the film, but the entire film process, marketing and whatnot.
Perth has a fair few film people, who want to make film and get recognized for storing it on a shelf. We lack the more market experienced film folk. Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of credit card budgets turn hopeful creative bodies into the Nine to Fivers. (Nothing wrong with earning bread. Take your risks to live when you can)
Demons! Haha… that feature film is long frozen on a computer somewhere, unedited. Here’s where I tell you my movie superstition… film titles, it’s all in a film title, and I am a gambling man. Demons was plagued by many factors, but was at least filmed.
Raven’s Cabin was originally titled Redback, and was filmed back in 2010. It was the first nano-budget film I ever worked on, and was also my one of my memorable experiences.
I had taken up a screen acting course with the Director Loren Johnson, and was slated to play the role of Brian…but I was dropped in favour of Luke Ledger, because the producers of the film, felt his name would sell the film, with his link to Heath Ledger. Loren was apologetic and gave me the title of production coordinator, where he would groom me.
We spent approximately a month, filming at Camp Woody, Stoneville. Which has since been destroyed due to forest fires.
I spent a lot of time, trapped at a desk and updating call sheets. Usually finishing at 2AM, and having to wake up the crew at 6AM. I did enjoy hanging out with Special FX Artists, Freena Hamilton and Bradly Harskamp, whom I’ve now come to consider family. I am also currently working with them on the sci-fi short, Cognition.
I also met Jag Pannu, who I work contract with now and again. Jag Pannu having invested in several films around Perth now.
Me: Well it’s unfortunate you didn’t get the role, but great that you got to be involved and meet people!
BC: I have since never worried about roles, because I just get asked outright nowadays, and there’s always awesome new people to meet.
I haven’t auditioned in quite some time. I already have a few projects in progress, but I find people just hand me roles. If you know how to communicate to the camera or your live audience, directors trust you to get the job done.
Me: That’s very awesome!, so what can we expect from you in the future?
BC: Hopefully a trailer out soon for Wrong Night Stand, since I’m booked with the Huxleys(Mark & Neal)again for a feature at the end of this year.
There is a gameshow called Take this Hike, which is being produced by Tony Spencer, so I’ll help assist him there. People can badger Tony about it. He’s on Twitter (@agentspeno) ,Go get him reality TV fans.
Youtube Shows, Project Giraffe, Popcorn, and Hell Hole within the coming months.
Two feature films next year, one a Sci-Fi, the other an action-drama.
… and as of late, I’m drawing up a few scripts of mine as graphic novels… but I’d like to make Murdergram, as a feature film. I haven’t decided when yet.
Me: Let’s break this in half-That will be your 4th time working with Neal?, and do you have a current Youtube?
BC: Neal and I trained together from Stargate. He has had more extensive theater experience than I. Having worked together for such a long time… I don’t keep record of job numbers, and I probably shouldn’t label them anyway.
I have previously, but I barely used it. I am however, scrubbing it in favor of a new channel devoted to my love of film and gaming, but more as a film diary. People can look me up at http://www.cecilpeaches.com
Me: You’ll have to let us know!, what can you tell us about the 2 films or your graphic novels or script?
BC: I cannot talk about either film being produced next year, other than I should get back in to some training for it… and I’m not a real fitness type.
One of my graphic novels is based on a short film script called Stain Glass. I never shot the film and I think it may work out for the better this way. Stain Glass is a Lovecraftian horror set in a small vacation home. A writer decides to hold a Writers Block weekend and invites his peers down to talk ideas. Conducting an inspection before they arrive, he finds a crack in an upstairs window. He notices that looking through the crack, does not look upon the same earthly plane and wonders where it could lead to.
Murdergram (project title)is a film about a thug trying to escape the life of violence. He has a natural flair for photographic art and uses social media to peddle his death art. Eventually leading him to have commit more murders, and later, at a gallery opening, finding out that most of his clientele are murderers, thugs and hitmen. It is an action-comedy, and it’s a funny thing, that Amri Mrisho (my chosen lead) wanted to bring to my attention of a man who was actually doing that on instagram. I have yet to find the article, and feel disgusted at myself, but the guilt will sink in, if it’s true.
Me: So based on a true story kinda?, lol, so anything else fans would be interested in knowing?
BC: Please be patient with me and hopefully I can provide you something to laugh about. All I can say is see you in a cinema sometime, or on stream, since everything seems to be heading that way.
Modern media technologies have opened up the “Have it now” consumer age. The Micro-budget market is intense for these competitive sales, and with piracy making film and television sales difficult, I think “Streaming” for cheap is the best option to circumvent this.
Even the form of celebrity-worship has changed. Most people recognize Youtube and Podcast stars nowadays, and the beauty of the appeal is, they are there. They’re real, or so we’re lead to believe, for the most part. They’re relatable. Easily accessible for a couple of minutes of your day.
Anyone can spot this change and I think industries are having a hard time adjusting to this. Some filmmakers have already denounced the digital era, but I think that’s a loss in power and sales to them.
Most advertisers still market their product to the internet, rather than marketing the internet to their product. I say abuse the odd surreal humor of the online community. They’re fun people. Make your next film trailer as a spoof of all the available top ten videos on Youtube.
I am being an idiot, but to quote Kun Lan from the awesome game Killer 7. (Goichi Suda FTW!)
“The size of the world is changing. It will get to the point that you can control it with your hand, just like a PDA. The world will… keep getting smaller”
I think business-wise, we need to accept that level of personalized customer attention.
That’s more than a mouthful for most people, and it is more a commentary for those in film. People can shout me down on it, it’s just an opinion/observation.
I guess, what I should be saying, is regardless of whether you see me on a cinema screen or on your phone through a stream show/event; We’ll be seeing each other and I thank you for your patronage.
Me: I see, well thank you so much for this interview.
BC: Thank you Bryan for the opportunity.