Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Interview with Writer\Actor Adam Kenneth Wilson

Adam Kenneth Wilson is a talented Actor and Writer based out of Toronto, Ontario Canada. Adam has had a number of roles over the years, working his way up playing a Pizza boy in a Domino’s commercial, a Microwave Thief in a Subway Ad, but more recently he has been gracing us with his talents in the TV Series "Flashpoint" in the episode “The Fortress”. After bringing the tormented Vampire Samuel Gradius to un-life in the Short Film "Ending the Eternal", his likeness and writing talents have made it to the pages of a Graphic Novel. The Short film is the prequel to the Graphic Novel entitled “The Eternal: Final Dawn” details about the novel and the short can be found here.

More notably, Adam will blow our minds playing the Title Role and bringing the most ruthless and psychotic killer in American history to the screen in "Manson" - Produced in association with The History Channel (US), Canwest Media (Canada), Five (UK) and Canal D (Canada). Airing Soon!

Adam is repped by Mary Swinton at 3SG Talent Management.

TGL - Adam, as both a writer and an actor you have a unique perspective on the life of a script. What is your favourite part of the journey? Which hat do you prefer wearing?

AKW - I love both of these things equally, and for entirely different reasons. While writing affords me a degree of control over some miniature imaginary universe, there’s something really rewarding about the surrender involved in molding yourself to someone else’s vision.
I suppose I’m more confident as an actor, but that makes the challenges of writing somehow more appealing. Each facet serves the other, as long as you remember to tone down whichever operation is uncalled for. That last thought was also a delivered note-to-self.

Wait, no; I have better answers!

While acting, I love late-stage rehearsal, when I can feel the definition of the character really solidifying, but still have room to play with it a little.

While writing, I love creating and polishing dialogue. I’m not an incompetent story editor, I just envy those with a real gift for it, and revel in dialogue, where I’m truly comfortable.

TGL - When developing a character for the page what are the top three things you consider? Are these the same things you use to bring a character to life on the stage?

AKW - When writing a character, I always have a stern chat with myself about how that character must neither sound like me nor too much like the other characters. Then, I focus on what that character’s primary objective and obstacle are. Then I write and decimate all of that character’s dialogue, rewriting it so that they aren’t directly saying what they think or feel, but rather implying it in the tones of conversation or the juxtaposition of action and speech. That’s my process, and I’m only just beginning to get anywhere near good at it.

When performing in a character, there’s oddly more room for him to sound like me. I enjoy experimenting with the surface details of a character, but the more I do this the more I find that the essence of the character can usually be found closer to home.
I could never give up either hat.

TGL - What are your 2 favourite movies? What makes them have more of an impact on you than others?

AKW - I don’t know that I can isolate my two favourite movies, as I love almost all movies, even the terrible ones. What I can do is name my guaranteed laugh and guaranteed cry movies. Those are The Big Lebowski and Wit, respectively. I watch both, often. I’m a huge fan of brilliantly written dialogue. These inspire me to develop my skills to a much higher level than where they now sit.

TGL - If you could work with any actor, director or writer who would it be? And what draws you to their work?

AKW - There are too many brilliant souls out there that I’d kill or at least maim to work with. But this year I’ve gotten to share scenes with Malcolm McDowell and Enrico Colantoni, both of whom are brilliantly talented, and serve as positive role models for any actor who’s trying to establish him- or her-self. Both are generous with their fellow actors, and neither buys into their own reputation. Either could behave entirely differently than they do, and most likely get away with it. Working with people like that makes me want to be exponentially better than I am.

I’ve had great luck with directors as well, working with Steven Surjik, Eric Canuel and a host of other wonderful people. Directors are wonderful for different reasons. Some projects call for tyrrany and others an unusual amount of freedom. Neither of the aforementioned were tyrants, by the way.

I’m also hesitant to name directors I’d like to work with, since that tends to beg the names of known directors, and while I adore almost everyone who has made themselves known in the field, I have to remind myself that many of the best directors are people whose names we don’t yet know.

TGL - The film industry is incredibly difficult to get into, and the Canadian market seems even more impenetrable. What challenges have you faced along the way? And how have you overcome them?

AKW - As an actor, I have two challenges more prominent than the others. One, I’m largely unknown at present, so occasionally my agent has to be persistent in order to be seen for the right parts. Two, I’m not the prettiest fish in the tank, so I have to make up for it (or feel that I do) by committing an intense amount of research and preparation for a role that some of the handsomer specimens might skip.

I also recommend that actors starting out find collaborative and/or do-it-yourself situations in which to participate, as it’s much easier to show people you can do something than ask them to believe it otherwise.

As a writer, my biggest challenge is focus. I have this conversation often with other writers. Too many good ideas, not enough time to develop them all. It’s not uncommon to feel like you might be working on the wrong project. Which leads us to the next question.

TGL - What suggestions for new writers can you offer to make their project more appealing to the industry?

AKW - I think rather than trying to make a passion project fit into the industry, it makes sense to find the holes in the industry first, and create the projects to fill them. I’ve been getting meetings lately on a few television projects, and that seems to have much more to do with the room for each respectively than my personal level of passion or interest. I think the best advice for new writers is this: Ask yourself
which piece people are most interested in, and make that your favourite. If none of your ideas fit into the category of things people will actually want to watch, it’s time for a whole new set of ideas.

TGL - Finding an agent and getting them to read your work is almost impossible. Do you have any advice for novices on getting noticed? And have you found that having an agent has been helpful to you and your career?

AKW - Having an agent has definitely been helpful to me, but a lot of the projects I have on the go right now hinge on relationships established earlier. It would be easy for an impatient person to ignore beginner-level colleagues or collaborators, but some of my working relationships are such that we’ve watched each other growing as artists and people, and have opted to reunite to create something wonderful.

I’ve been involved in a couple of short films as an actor, to which I’ve contributed dialogue (having first gained the trust of the directors responsible)and had those efforts blossom into bigger and freer collaborations recently.

TGL - Something we all struggle with as writers is writers block. What tools have you developed to deal with this showstopper?

AKW - Write crap. Tonnes and tonnes of crap. It serves no one to throw out the bad pages. There’s almost always gold somewhere in the poop. Write all the poop you can, and skim the gold off the top like a panhandler. Save it up. Soon you have a pile of gold. I’m not having a strong analogy day; I hope you’ll forgive me. I mean that writing begets writing, and obsessive perfectionism does not. The whole experience is really just rewriting.

TGL - Writing is such a personal thing, you put pieces of yourself on every page, into every scene and, bit of dialog, the same can be said of acting in that there is a piece of the actor in every character. When you're creating a script or a character how much of you goes into it, and where do you pull the rest of your inspiration?

AKW - For me, inspiration comes from absolutely everywhere. When I think about the word “research” my mental picture is immediately that of a library, or at least a search engine. In reality, a writer’s research, like an actor’s, takes place everywhere and at all times. I never, ever travel anywhere without something to write with and something to write in or on. When playing a fictitious character, you can draw from any crazy idea you have, as long as it’s congruous with the script. Playing an actual person just requires finding everything you can on the subject, and then avoiding every other portrayal of the individual.

As far as writing inspiration, I have more trouble avoiding it than finding it. Or perhaps more accurately, trouble narrowing it down to useful creative notions, that could make it to the ever-crucial third phase of art; reception on the part of a viewer.

TGL - Everyone is always looking for free advice... it's actually the
foundation of's mission... What free advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

AKW - Make friends. Write crap. Act badly. Often. Keep doing these things until you’re good. Once you’re good, force the friends you made to help you make the climb. If you truly love it, you won’t notice the time passing.

Something else I really found helpful was taking a break from the creative side and exploring the other workings of a set. Once you’ve catered, built sets, wrangled background, locked up a perimeter for sound and made time-code notes, you really get a much better idea of the workings of film and television as a whole. Developing a first-hand respect for varied critical on-set jobs has made me more appreciative of my small part in it, and keenly determined to waste no one else’s time as either an actor or a writer. That might not be for everyone, but it was crucial in my development.

TGL - What can we expect from Adam K. Wilson in the future? What projects are you working on? Where can we see you perform?

AKW - I will be seen in a principle role in an upcoming episode of the CTV/NBC program The Listener, a small part in the soon-to-be-released feature film SUCK by Rob Stefaniuk, and a major role in the History Channel’s forthcoming project MANSON, as the titular notorious madman.

When I have the time available, I perform with the sketch comedy troupe Press, Release Repeat, with MTV’s/Last Comic Standing’s Derek Forgie, and Tessie Burton.

As far as writing goes, I’m currently in great meetings concerning a children’s television series, and a comedy series. I’ve recently been commissioned to write a web-series by Fifth Season Media, and am a collaborator in the comic series The Eternal: Final Dawn, as well as a character likeness therein. I haven’t co-written a produced feature film since 2002, but should have some good news on that front soon as well.

TGL - Thank you again for taking valuable time to speak with us about your success. We look forward to hearing and seeing much more from you in the future!

1 comment:

  1. Adam Wilson. Soon to be another example of a Canadion actor that we should have paid more attention to BEFORE he was a big deal in the US film industry.