Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Dakota Daulby of Black Fly
In acting circles, Vancouver’s Dakota Daulby is having an excellent year. In addition to holding down a recurring role as Kent Matthews in the fourth season of the TNT drama, Falling Skies, he has lead roles in not one but two films at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival – Black Fly and Sitting on the Edge of Marlene.
In advance of VIFF, we caught up with Dakota to find out more about him, his dual festival roles, and his own creative preparation at this early stage of his career.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you’re up to these days?
I’m about to graduate my two year acting program at New Image College and have been as busy as ever. As you know I have some amazing films about to debut at VIFF, and I’ve also been writing my own stuff. I have my first movie in which I wrote, produced and will co-direct going into production mid-September. I think the death of an artist is being stagnant so I always try to keep busy and create my own work. I don’t expect anyone to knock on my door so I also try to write, direct, produce and act. The more fingers in the cooky jar then the better chance of success – it’s physics.
What was the moment when you knew you wanted to be an actor?
I don’t think there was ever this defining moment – at least not thus far, where I thought “Hey, I want to an actor!”. I just started working, writing and developing my own stuff, then the next thing you know I was like, “Oh, I guess I’m an actor!” Plus, I’m a really creative type, enjoy talking to people, and could never see myself in an office job, so acting is definitely the gig if you’re like me.
You have not one but two films (Black Fly and Sitting on the Edge of Marlene) that will be screening at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival. What can you tell us about your characters in these films and what experiences you learned from being involved with these projects?
Both projects are beautifully done but are worlds apart in terms of the characters that I portray. Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, which our fabulous director Ana Valine won a much deserved Leo Award for, is the story of a mother and daughter. The mother, Marlene (Suzanne Clement), is a relapsing drug addict and con artist who is trying to raise her daughter Sammie (Paloma Kwiatkowski) in the same environment. That’s where I come in. I portray Drew who is a character that is both unworldly and naive. He’s a loner. Which is something that he and Sammie can relate to. This allows both to understand each other’s insecurities and fears on an unspoken level. Unfortunately for Drew, he thinks Sammie is savable. He thinks he can bring her to the light of the Lord and cure her issues. Which, at the end of the day he is in for one hell of a surprise.
Black Fly is my most recent project, under director and writer Jason Bourque. Like Sitting on the Edge Marlene, Black Fly revolves around family. We focus on the unspoken bond of brotherhood.
In this crazy, thriller inspired by true events, I play Jake Henson. Unlike Drew, Jake has been through some stuff. He’s seen more of the dark side of the world and hasn’t been sheltered from anything. He’s raw and alone. A young boy abused by life, family, death, and betrayal. All he’s really searching for is somewhere and someone to call home, which to him his older brother.
This kid has gone through some s*** and that’s all before the film even begins. The journey of Jake and his brother Noal (Matthew MacCaull) is difficult to watch – because it feels so real. The film is stunning and the characters are so raw that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie but like you’re looking through a doorway into a boy’s unsettling life.
You have also worked on television in the series, Falling Skies. For you, how does TV acting compare with film acting and what creative rewards do you get from each of these mediums?
They are both extremely rewarding – I enjoy doing what I do whether for film or TV. With that said, the biggest difference for me is that with television you’re working with new directors, actors, and sometimes whole crews after each episode. That is both cool and challenging. With TV your character is always developing as new directors and writers come in and offer their creativity – which is awesome as it keeps you dynamic. This can also make it challenging as you are trying to deliver a consistent character for millions of fans watching at home. With film you are typically working with a single director for the duration of the shoot. You develop a strong character but don’t get as many fresh eyes on your work. I love collaborating with new artists and the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen keeps you on your toes as an actor.
How would you describe your creative process as an actor for getting into your characters?
My process changes with each project. Nothing is ever set in stone. I always find myself falling into my characters through the strangest or simplest ways – you would be amazed what mundane things can make all the difference. For Black Fly it was mocking phone calls and just improving with Matt MacCaull before takes. For Falling Skies, it was the placement of my hands and the tightness of my boots. For Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, it was the coat and the weird blink I do. When you find it then it kind of just happens – the next thing you know, “boom,” I’m no longer me.
Who were your greatest influences when you were starting out?
I have never been influenced by other artists per se. They inspire me to work harder and when I see their success I strive to do even more. I figure if they did then why can’t I? With that said, it takes hard work and I know I’ve still got a lot to learn and experience but I don’t ever doubt myself. If I don’t believe in myself to be the best, then who will?
Overall, what is the very best thing about acting?
It’s the only job where you don’t ever have to choose a job. In acting I can be everything – doctors, lawyers, criminals, aliens, cowboys. I can be a brain surgeon without ever taking a day of school.
What has been your most memorable moment as an actor so far?
My most memorable moment as an actor thus far was one of my first read throughs for Falling Skies. We were doing a table read at Aja Tan, which is a massive post-apocalyptic studio/set they use for the show. So I am sitting at the table across from Noah Wyle, Will Patton and next to me is my now good friend Doug Jones. And I had this overwhelming sensation of “Wow, this is incredible!” It just felt right. Like I had earned my spot at their table. A table full of actors I’ve watched my entire life.
What do you want people to associate with you in the future if they see your name on a film?
I’d love it if, when people went to the movies, that one buddy would turn to his other buddy before the opening titles and say, “this movie is with Dakota Daulby and that other guy.”
Seriously though, I guess I’d want people to associate me with not only acting but also writing, producing and directing. I want to be known as the guy who can do it all. Secondly, I’d want people to know that I used any and all success in film to help others. Helping others follow their own dreams in or outside film is very important to me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in acting?
I would advise them to not think they can solely rely on ‘natural’ talent. Yes, you may have it, but a surgeon who has a steady hand still goes to school before stepping into the operating room. Trained and untrained actors don’t compare. Find a good school and take it seriously, like you would any other career.
What books have been influential in your creative journey so far?
Actions: The Actors’ Thesaurus by Marina Caldarone is definitely one of the books that stands out as having been instrumental to my career, I never leave home without it! But seriously, it’s crucial for actors to be as specific as they can be with their acting. In life we always know exactly what we’re saying, doing and why. But when you’re performing it’s not always that easy. You’re using a set of predetermined words written by somebody else, which can make the act of appearing natural more difficult. If I can fully understand what I’m saying in a scene, then the viewers will be able to better relate to the character. The more relatable you are to an audience then the more people will want to stay with you and watch you.
Where can people find out more about you and keep up with your latest projects?
Social media for me is a great way to get in contact with fans who want to talk or ask questions in real time. I love talking or just shooting the shit. If you want to know more all you’ve got to do is say “hi.”
Black Fly will screen on September 27th at the Rio Theatre and September 30th at International Village.
Sitting on the Edge of Marlene will screen on October 1st at the Rio Theatre and October 3rd at International Village.
For more information, please visit visit VIFF.org,