Most people go to Whistler in December for the skiing and snowboarding. I brought my toboggan and was laughed off the ski hill, but that’s another story. I was actually there for the Whistler Film Festival anyways and didn’t have the time for snow activities. I may have inadvertently rolled a snowball down the hill before leaving. No animals were harmed.
Tracking down filmmakers and actors is not easy… unless you know Trapper John. Unfortunately he was up north checking his lines and tracking fish. Luckily for me I did have some assistance from one of the festival producers. She was instrumental in coordinating interviews with some rising stars. Tyler Johnston is a talented actor that was up there promoting the film, Story of a Girl. He was very considerate in taking the time to talk to me about his role in the film and his experience in the industry.
Story of a Girl is Kyra Sedgwick’s feature directing debut. Her husband Kevin Bacon and daughter Sosie Bacon acted in it. Their son Travis Bacon had composed the music. It is truly a family affair. Incidentally, Tyler had just arrived from the airport previous to our interview. He’d been on set in Sudbury filming Letter Kenny since 4 am before arriving in Whistler. Given the popularity of Letter Kenny, it’s been renewed for another 40 plus episodes. Cementing its place on the networks well into 2020.
“How did you become involved in the film?”
“I had received a call from Liz Levine. She is the producer of Story of a Girl. I had been in a previous film produced by her company, Random Bench called Feed The Gods. She had invited me to read for it. Prior to the audition, I had an opportunity to speak with Kyra Sedgwick about the story and character I’d be reading for. We spoke for 5-10 min’s before the casting director called her back in. It was a luxury not many actors have before an audition and it made me feel much more comfortable going into that room to read. It went very well and the rest is history.”
Story of a Girl was filmed in and around Vancouver, Langley and W. Vancouver in the summer of 2016. Tyler tells me that the pizza place in the film was actually an old Marina off the Sea To Sky highway. It took two months to film and Tyler informed me that the shooting days were very reasonable. Without giving too much of the plot away, Tyler tells me that the story revolves around suspicion and blame toward a certain character that later turns out to be inaccurate. Not everything is what it seems.
“How did you prepare for your role as Ryan?”
“I had multiple conversations with Kyra about my character and some buddies in my life that had gone through similar situations depicted in the film. When you’re dealing with young romance and hormones that happen to young teenagers, then you add a bully into the mix; it’s a whole other element. I also had conversations with Ryann Shane that plays my girlfriend. It’s always good to talk about it and be comfortable with one another, especially when the subject matter is a little iffy. Having a good relationship with your co-star is a great way to start things off.”
Interesting enough, when Tyler was 17, he played the lead in the high school musical Footloose. He waited a week to tell Kevin Bacon about it, fearing he might come off as a fan boy.
“I’ve enjoyed watching Kyra Sedgwick as an actress. How was the experience working with her as a director?”
“She was amazing to work with. It was definitely a venture for her but she had the power on the set from the beginning of every day till the end. Coming from an actor background, she would approach the actors the way they’d want to be approached. She had an amazing DOP, Alar Kivilo that was very helpful with imagery and shot setup. She was the director from start till finish. I’ve got nothing but great praise for her and I look forward to seeing her next film. The chemistry between her and Kevin was very sweet on the set.”
After the film was finished, Tyler was invited to support the film at a festival in Edinburgh. While there, he and a friend also travelled onto London and Rome. He called it a little European getaway. As a talented actor attached to a great film, you often find yourself travelling around the world in support of a project. What a great way for a successful production to say thank you.
“What was the best part about being involved in the production?”
“In this film it had to be the collaboration between everyone. Having a couple weeks before filming to be able to talk to your director and your co-star about the scenes and rehearsing them. Then the DP comes to set and has ideas on how it might look makes it a fully collaborative effort. I come from a sports background, having played hockey and lacrosse so I love the team aspect.”
“Are there certain roles or films you’re more attracted to?”
“I enjoy playing roles opposite of my own life. I find those roles more challenging, more rewarding and more fun. I’ve been acting for 15 years now and have played the scientists son and other roles within my wheelhouse. I now feel ready to stretch myself more as an actor. I’m slipping out of the teenage roles and into the young man roles. I’m able to be a little more selective with some of the roles I get involved with.”
As a great example of his prowess, Tyler Johnston is taking on another interesting character. In his next role he’ll be playing a bare-knuckle boxer. He’s been hitting the gym and taking boxing classes. He’ll be playing a cigarette smoking, black nail polish wearing, meth dealing Goth. He says he gets to put on a long black wig daily and just be wild. The film is a Canadian Indy called Rabbit. It takes place inside a rural community in BC that deal with their issues in a physical way. Once again Tyler gets to stretch himself out as an actor, which is exciting for him and his career.
Tyler Johnston was a true gentleman throughout the interview and was excited to settle into Whistler and begin promoting the film. He is the kind of actor directors dream about. His commitment is undeniable and his persistence to keep challenging himself as an actor shows tremendous dedication. I look forward to seeing him in many more films as he continues to evolve from rising star to Super Nova.