A local actor is being featured in a short film at a Nanaimo Festival this weekend, but the first time he sees the finished product will be in the Malaspina theatre with everyone else.
“It’s a secret,” said Stewart Whitworth. “We know our parts but (the filmmaker) won’t let us see it until it plays Feb. 7.”
Greyscale, a 12-minute mystery film by Michael Chen, will premiere at the ninth annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival (VISFF) Feb. 7 and also play Feb. 8.
Whitworth is a Nanoose resident who works full time in Parksville. About eight years ago a colleague, who was going to be having a film shot on her property, suggested he come act in the production.
“She said ‘we need one more person, why don’t you join us? you’d be perfect in it.’ I said, ‘why is that?’ she said ‘you look like Kevin Costner’,” he chuckled.
Whitworth met the writer and agreed to take a part in the film but the movie was cancelled due to a schedule conflict for the filmmaker. However it piqued Whitworth’s interest into the world of acting.
Since then he has taken a number acting classes at Spotlight Academy in Nanaimo and other workshops in Victoria. He has acted in a few episodes of Dark Waters of Crime, featuring true Canadian crimes, which currently runs on Oprah’s OWN Network and also on a documentary channel in Quebec. In that he stars as both an investigator and a suspect. He’s also starred in some student films at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He has performed in Murder Mystery dinners, he’s done some improv and stand-up comedy, and he’s been an extra in a number of productions by major film studios. Those include The Big Year, shot in Tofino a few years ago, starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin.
“I was right there with them, and having been in acting class it was nice to learn more about being on set, watch how they prepare themselves and make mistakes with their lines,” he said. Whitworth played a bird watcher in that film.
Last Spring he acted in a new Godzilla movie where he played an American soldier, and last year he did some extra work on a film called Kid Cannabis at a landfill in Victoria.
“We spent all B.C. Day in the landfill creating a Nelson border crossing to the U.S. for the show.”
Whitworth was contacted by Michael Chen to act in his short film Grayscale last fall. The two actors in the film and the four other people involved, are all based in the Central Island area, Whitworth said, making it one of the few local films at the festival.
Although Chen is a seasoned professional and Whitworth trusts his judgement, Whitworth still feels a bit strange not being able to watch Greyscale before the general public does.
“It is a bit unnerving not having seen it,” Whitworth admitted.
He is starring in another short film shot in the Central Island, which will be screened at the Victoria Film Festival Feb. 13. It is called Framed and will play in the Pure Creative category.
Whitworth, now 52, said acting brings out his creative side and he’s always in a good mood when he comes home from acting class. Plus, he’s a storyteller.
“I like to tell stories. I like to be part of story telling. I have four children, I told stories to them all and now I come back from a movie set and tell them a story about what went on there,” he said.
The VISFF will be held at the Malaspina Theatre at the Nanaimo campus of Vancouver Island University at 7 p.m. both Feb. 7 and 8.
This year there are 15 local and international submissions. Tickets are $15, $10 for students. For more information visit www.visff.com.