FYIG recently had the chance to chat with actor Taras Lavren about his role as Nate of Anne With an E as well as his project Blink Twice Films!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I like to pretend to be other people in front of a camera and also am an avid explorer of anything creative like filmmaking, editing, writing and some music playing. I’ll take summer over winter, and prefer a publicly accepted disheveled look over clean cut. On the odd pub night, I like to imagine I’m an amateur dart board champion, it usually ends poorly as there is always someone there that is an actual champion dart board player.
You discovered your love for acting at a young age. What was the pivotal moment that made you decide you wanted to make a career as an actor?
I still fondly remember the day that I recited Hamlet’s soliloquy in front of an audience of 600 in the Globe at the tender age of six, after that moment I knew I should perhaps pursue this as a choice career. No, but can you imagine that was the story you could just tell how you started?! I didn’t know Shakespeare or what the heck a soliloquy was at the time, but I do remember putting on “performances” for my parents all the time and just absorbing myself into characters I made up to entertain myself. I think realistically the moment that struck me was when I won a drama award in high school and it wasn’t until that moment when it clicked that this could be a real thing to pursue. I guess I just needed a plastic plaque on a cheap cork board to validate it, that and my mom, who has always been my biggest fan!
You enrolled in a post-graduate film business program at Centennial College. Were you always interested in the behind the scenes aspect of filming? What did you learn from this program?
I did and it was a great program because it was short and sweet! Actually it really gave me a great perspective on the framework of the industry and how it all works – which is so important if you want to be an actor and I encourage any aspiring actors to get a foundation of the industry outside of the craft, it will truly benefit you in having an understanding of how things work and why they sometimes don’t.
You created your first short film My Coffee With Jim. What can you tell us about that film and what did you learn from your first time creating your own short?
‘My Coffee with Jim’ was my directorial debut. It’s a short film about the tumultuous first date of Jim – an aspiring filmmaker in his twenties – and Jan – a women’s studies major of a similar age – who find themselves trapped in a debate about the controversial Woody Allen. I wanted to make it unique from other “first date” films, so I shot it all primarily in the POV (point of view) perspective from both Jim and Jan. I was also really inspired by the works of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, so you see a lot of symmetry in the film. It was a ton of fun but also a ton of stress as it put me through the grinder of how to turn a project from script to festival in about a year. It was sort of like my filmmaking boot camp.
Talk to us about Blink Twice Films and how you became a founding member.
Blink Twice Films is an anthology of one-minute short films on Instagram. Think of it like Black Mirror but in micro-doses. It also serves as a really cool platform that allows us the opportunity to collaborate with artists all over the world. It all started with a couple of beers on a snowy December afternoon in a pub, when a group of my acting studio friends came to me with this idea, and I said let’s just shoot this week! So we did, and a few months later it all snowballed into this amazing on-going project that we now have as a means of creative venting. Since officially launching in June of 2018, we have amassed an amazing fan base and an ever-growing international audience. You can check out our work on instagram by following @blinktwicefilms.
Where did the unique idea to create an anthology of 1-minute short films come from?
Simply, from instagram’s one-minute video restriction policy. Well, I think it was more than just that haha. I think the idea really spurred from wanting to have the ability to create constant content that would also have an audience, sort of build our own broadcast system and stream our films to a direct audience. Instagram seemed like the perfect platform to do that, and it coincidentally did, in fact, parallel our thought to make one-minute microfilms with its restrictions. It was all meant to be!
You play as the character Nate in the CBC/Netflix series Anne With an E. What can you tell us about your character?
Nate is the vinegar to the oil of the world of Anne with an E, in obvious words, he’s the baddie. He’s a sharp-minded grifter that knows how to play the art of the con-game like a chess master. We first get introduced to Nate at the tail end of season one as one of the boarders at Green Gables, and then in season two, we find that he along with his partner are potentially up to something more devastating than just a bad harvest.
What drew you to your role in Anne With an E?
I immediately fell in love with this character because he was just so different from anyone else on the show! There wasn’t a lot to go off of from the initial script and audition I got as there weren’t that many lines in the first (or rather last) episode of season one, but I remember getting the sense that this guy was just this cool, clever and mischievous cat, all very fun traits to get to play.
What can you tell us about your upcoming roles in vWARS and Wayne?
vWars is this cool new vampire show starring Ian Somerholder (and no he’s not a vampire this time) that’s coming to Netflix, based on the print anthology series of the same name. In that, I play Alex Waide, the leader of a vampire gang that takes one too many liberties with his powers and perhaps steps on too many toes in the process as well. Wayne, on the other hand, is this crazy adrenaline-driven “Bonnie and Clyde” type series coming to the newly hyped YouTube Premium streaming service. It sees this 15-year-old kid (aptly named Wayne) set out on a dirt bike to take back a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am that was stolen from his dad before he died. In that, I play (yet another) leader of a gang that messes with Wayne in the opening episode. I’m noticing I’m quite good at leading a gang of troublemakers.
I’ve read that you enjoy playing guitar and composing music in your spare time. Any chance of a music career on the horizon?
Haha no I think any sense of a music career is beyond my talents but I have always dreamt of playing at an outdoor music festival, I guess something massive like Glastonbury would sufficiently scratch that itch. I’ve always been much more of a band guy than a solo acoustic Ed Sheeran type. I can only sing if my life depended but only when, and on all other occasions, it’s a bit of blind vocal target practice. I do otherwise like to just unwind and jam on my guitar if only just for myself, it’s quite therapeutic.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Always train! Don’t get sucked up into any concept of “making it”. A great acting coach of mine, Sophie Ann Rooney, always teaches us to “keep your head down, do the work”. I love that phrase, and I refer to it whenever I waver off course a bit and get lost in the business of it all. Always make sure you’re working on your craft and believe me, if you’re cut out and the work in class is strong, it will be seen in the audition rooms and eventually on a set.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
Well, a quick google search is never a bad start! But more specifically you can keep up with my lazy day-to-day shenanigans by following my Instagram @taras.l. And thank you for reading if you got this far!