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Canadian actor Bradley Hamilton is the shining star in Hometown Holiday

Hometown Holidays is the next film that you should be watching on Netflix.   That Christmas spirit will warm your heart like a cup of hot chocolate when you watch this romantic comedy set during the holidays.  Director Justin G. Dyck orchestrates this wonderful film together about Krista, played by Sarah Troyer, who wants to start the New Year on the right foot.  Meaning her new business would be much of a focus as well as her love life which hasn’t seen much success.  She then meets Ryan, played by Bradley Hamilton, who is an entertainment lawyer from LA, in hopes to take one of her resolutions to play.  The romance starts to blossom as they both now have to make decisions and to let go of their past to make this relationship work.

This season when you watch Hometown Holidays, the actor that we should be paying attention to is Bradley Hamilton.    The Canadian born actor is a man who takes pride in his roots   The one-time model and professional hockey player has taken what he has learned from these two areas and funnelled them into his exciting acting career.  With much to look forward to, Bradley Hamilton has maintained his stature during these difficult times.  He has learned to again enjoy those activities that have shaped his career today.  His gratitude and appreciation for the finer things in life will show in his work for many years to come.   FERNTV spoke to Bradley Hamilton about his illustrious career and why Hometown Holidays should be on your Christmas list.

FERNTV:  Is there someone you give a lot of credit to for motivating your acting career or someone who has had much influence?

BradleyIlona Smyth, an Ottawa casting director, has definitely had a huge impact. I did a film with Blumhouse that she cast, and she gave me incredible advice and guidance to provide clarity through the next steps of my career. Still, to this day, I do lots of consulting and self-tapes with her.

FERNTV:  What do you miss most about playing hockey and what are some of the elements from the game that has helped you in your acting career?

Bradley:  The comradery has been a key takeaway, for sure. You become such a family with your teammates, especially when you play Junior hockey. You are on the ice with them so much, have so many meals with them and enjoy many fun bus trips. Nothing compares to that atmosphere, and I definitely miss that every day.

FERNTV:  Tell us a little bit about how you got your first acting gig?

Bradley:  I was modelling at the time with a huge interest in acting but no knowledge of how to get involved. I found a casting call on a Facebook page and I applied with some modelling photos but was transparent about having almost no experience. Nonetheless, they booked me almost immediately—my jaw dropped. I also had a mustache for 6 months shooting that movie, which I would say wasn’t my best look.

FERNTV:  You play Ryan Rourke who is an entertainment lawyer in the film Hometown Holiday who is trying to sign a country singer.  Was it a little ironic that you were playing this role which is something you know about yourself having gone through it with your talent agency?

Bradley:  It was definitely ironic, but as an agent, the first thing you need to do is put yourself in your potential talents’ shoes and know what they need from you. So, it worked out well.

FERNTV:  Even though this is a feel-good movie, what was one of your main challenges in doing this film?

Bradley:  Being romantic is definitely not my strong suit, and just the idea of leading a film felt like a lot of pressure. That said, I was extremely lucky to have such a talented co-star, Sarah Troyer, and an amazing supporting cast to provide all the help I needed.

FERNTV:  What was your first reaction to being on Netflix?

Bradley:  This is my fourth Netflix appearance, but it’s always an absolute delight; I cried the first time.

“We finished each other’s sentences and we were both on the same page even then.”-Bradley Hamilton on meeting director Justin G. Dyck

FERNTV:  What is it like to work with director Justin G. Dyck, who’s got quite a diverse resume of films, also releasing Anything for Jackson this year?

Bradley:  I’ve never been given so much trust right off the bat. He and I had one conversation at the beginning of shooting about our character ideas; we finished each other’s sentences and we were both on the same page even then. He was fantastic to work with, had a great attitude and sense of humour. Also, “Anything for Jackson” is an amazing film and everyone definitely needs to check that out. Justin is going to skyrocket. I would put money on it.

FERNTV:  How as an actor like yourself coping with the pandemic and lockdown and how are you keeping busy?

Bradley:  I don’t necessarily see it as something I need to cope with as much as I see it as an opportunity to get a lot done. I’ve been working on my motorcycles, playing lots of hockey and being a full-time dog dad to my three monsters.

FERNTV:  Who is your favourite NHL Team?

Bradley:  I don’t usually like teams, I care much more about individual players, but my answer would be the Dallas Stars because I think Jamie Benn is exactly what an NHL player should be.

FERNTV:  What future projects shall we look forward to?

Bradley:  I have a Netflix show coming out called “Sex Life,” where I play the main character’s best friend’s boyfriend, so keep an eye out for that. To keep up with me and my recent projects, you can also check out my IMDB page, which is linked on my Instagram profile @Mr.BradleyHamilton.



Fernando Fernandez is a graduate of Environmental Studies at York University. He became passionate about the arts when interning for many internet startup magazines focusing on music and film. Inspired by the work of Stanley Kubrick, Fernando created FERNTV for everyone to become inspired and motivated about the arts and culture that surrounds them. As hard working as he is, Fernando still has time to be funny as Private Joker from Full Metal Jacket.

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Actress Catherine Saindon displaying her talent across all mediums.

Many films are easy to judge especially when it comes to short films where we can easily say that the budget of the film will be low and the actors or actresses are not something to rave about.  That may be the case sometimes but often we overlook those involved in the production.  Director Vincenzo Nappi‘s short film First Bite starring Catherine Saidon is one that the audience should pay attention to.  Coming from Montreal, Quebec, Vincenzo Nappi directs this film about Alex, played by Catherine Saidon, who is struggling to keep stuff down in the washroom of a metal concert.  We here on FERNTV have always been supported and delighted towards the many short genre films that have come from la belle province as they have really carved out this niche  and there is no sign of them stopping.  The audience should also focus on the talent of actress Catherine Saidon who has honed her craft ever since the age of 10.  FERNTV spoke to the talented Catherine Saidon who refuses to leave no stone unturned in the industry.

FERNTV:  How did you find out about this film and can you tell us here on FERNTV what the audition was like for First Bite?

Catherine:  I found out about First Bite when a friend from Yellowbug Theatre and the college sent me a message asking if I’d be willing to be part of this project. I think he compiled a list for Vince to go through of all the Dawson graduates from approximately the past 5 years. Vince stated that he recognized me from another gore film I had previously done (shamelessly plugging Game of Death) and I was offered the role.

FERNTV:   You have done feature films, as well as a series called Spinning Out on Netflix.  Can you tell us what is the biggest difference between doing full-length features as opposed to shorts because they all have their different challenges?

Catherine:  In my opinion, it’s not really about the type of project, but more so the type of role and its importance. The purpose of some roles is to be the character that allows the lead actors to shine, while other times you’re the character that carries the story.  Both are exciting, and both have value and purpose.

I would sooner outline the challenges between film and theatre. I come from theatre, where you spend a month rehearsing daily, for hours, working and re-working your character, so that by opening night, it’s really second nature. I can’t even tell you how many times I have been in the wings, about to go on, and I can’t remember any of my lines, but as soon as you step on stage, it all comes back. You have become so comfortable with how you developed the character that you don’t even have to think anymore, you just have to be present. In the film, scenes are constantly being re-written, and you can receive a brand-new version minutes before you’re expected to shoot. It definitely keeps you on your toes. It’s also shot out of sequence, so I think that adds a layer of work you don’t have to worry about in theatre. You could film a reaction to a traumatic event before actually filming the event. So that has its challenges.

FERNTV:   The poster for this film First Bite reminds me of David Cronenberg’s classic Rabid.  What are your thoughts on the poster?

Catherine:  I’m not going to lie, I had to look up Rabid’s poster and I can definitely see the parallels. I think the poster for First Bite is well done! I think it creates an image of despair and struggle. It encompasses the theme of the film perfectly.

FERNTV:  What was it like to work with director Vincenzo Nappi?

Catherine:  Vince is a very collaborative director and I could tell he had a great vision right from the start. I could truly see the passion and the excitement he has for his work just in how he carries himself on set. He’s open to discussing the role and the scene and allows for changes to occur throughout the process when it becomes apparent something cannot be performed the way it was visualized while writing. He’s made himself a very approachable and very supportive director. Vince gives his actors the direction and tools necessary to carry out his vision while also allowing them the freedom to play.

FERNTV:  There has been a surge in punk or metal horror in film?  After doing a film like this can you explain why this formula works?

Catherine:  This genre seems to have struck a chord with its target audience. There has always been a fascination with horror films; metal horror has blended to create the perfect marriage and I’m thrilled to be part of this trend.

FERNTV:  Do you feel that this film comments on eating disorders and the horrors of going through it?

Catherine:  I’m happy to hear that the film goes deeper than what’s on the surface and that it can invoke a discussion about deeper issues. There are many ways to interpret the film, and if that’s the message you take away, I am grateful to be part of something that starts a conversation.

FERNTV:  Can you describe your experience at Yellowbug Theatre School where you attended for 11 years?

Catherine:  I am so insanely thankful for Yellowbug Theatre. I started when I was 10 years old. I met my best friends at Yellowbug and 13 years later we are closer than ever. Milva Franzini, the owner of Yellowbug and our teacher/mentor, created such a safe space where we could explore and play, without judgement. For us to help us grow as actors, she encouraged us to try and to fail and learn from it.

Susan Fuda, our playwright and director would write the most amazing plays for our end of year showcase, really focusing on highlighting her students’ strengths. They have both become some of my biggest supporters, like second and third Mom to me. I am so, so grateful for my time at Yellowbug, I can’t say it enough. I could go on forever.

FERNTV:  How does an actress like yourself keep busy during a pandemic?

Catherine:  It was tough, especially at the beginning, but I decided to take this time to learn and to grow as an artist. I participated in a lot of interviews on Zoom with casting directors, actors, directors, to just try to get as much information as possible and to learn about all of the moving parts within the industry. I tried writing but… I’m not really any good at that. I’ll try again eventually. I did start learning to play the piano however, and that has been very therapeutic for me. It’s brought me so much joy, and it’s been inspiring to see myself improve day by day and begin to play songs I grew up listening to. I’ve also been taking a course in creativity; I want to keep my juices flowing during this rest period and come out at the end of it better than before.


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Lee Lawson in Speak Your Mind

They say that you are only as good as the people you hire which holds true for director Cyrus Baetz‘s film Speak Your Mind.  He put all these great actors and actresses in this dialogue-driven dark comedy about a man named Jacob, played by Steve Kaszas, who is a struggling actor himself who needs to get his **it together.  He is having problems with his girlfriend Cassie, played by Angeliki Athanassoulias, and his new seedy boss, Anthony hilariously played by Justin Darmanin who is supposed to show him the ropes in the acting industry.  Jacob does look for help in his life and career by taking some deep method acting lessons by Robert Williams, played by Paul Nicholas Mason, who tells him to level up his acting and take it up a notch.  Jacob also consults his lesbian therapist Iris, played by Lee Lawson, consistently and tells him to try to do something new by speaking his mind whenever he gets the chance.  This method is what she calls the “mind speaking method” and it brings him to a whole bunch of chaos but new levels of understanding of himself and where his life is.

All of these great supporting actors make this film enjoyable and we here on FERNTV were impressed with the performance of Lee Lawson.  We thought there was a lot of chemistry between her character Iris and Jacob in the film.  Despite the dark and dry humour amongst Jacob’s other counterparts, Lawson brings the charm and hope into the character of Jacob allowing the film to balance itself out and cut into that dryness.  FERNTV caught up with actress Lee Lawson to discuss her pivotal role in the film Speak Your Mind and the industry during this pandemic.

FERNTV:  Briefly describe your character in the film Speak Your Mind and the experience in the casting process? 
Lee:  I play Iris, she’s an old, nurturing soul; good at reading others, not so much herself. I introduce Steve Kaszas’ character, Jacob, to an experimental therapeutic technique and hijinks ensue. As for the casting process, it was a good old fashioned audition.  I like auditioning, it’s one of the only times where screen actors get to “perform live”, which always adds special energy to the mix.
FERNTV:  You are the supporting actress to the main character Jacob played by Steve Kaszas in the film. For those who are not in the know can you explain what it means to be a supporting actress or actor in a film?

Lee:  For sure! I think playing any character, be it a lead, supporting or itty-bitty-bit-part, is much the same process from an acting point of view. You analyze, feel out the beats and commit.  The real difference is the way the director sculpts those performances to best tell the story of the central character.  The peripheral characters give the protagonist something to bounce off of; they help or hinder or teach or reveal something… And when a film is clicking, you feel the supporting characters as fully dimensional people as well. I think Cyrus did a beautiful job balancing the perspectives in the film.
FERNTV:  What was it like to work with Cyrus Baetz and what has he taught you when working on this film? 
Lee:  Cyrus is an incredibly giving, collaborative director.  Throughout the process, he was right there with us (the actors); rehearsing, running lines, checking in.  Oftentimes, once you’re cast in a project, your contact with the director is extremely limited until you get to set.  Speak Your Mind was different, Cyrus made himself available so we weren’t working in a vacuum. As for lessons learned…I learned a lot about how far you can push a moment.  There’s a pivotal monologue in the film and when we shot it Cyrus let me do it 11 times. 11! It was amazing to be able to work through a chunk of text like that and to have a director take the time to find it.
FERNTV:  This film Speak Your Mind comments on the industry and the difficulties and struggles in being an actor/actress. Can you comment on this as well?
Lee:  Nope. I’ve never struggled one bit. 😉 Though I have heard from others that it can be difficult to remain truthful and open while outside voices dictate what you’re allowed to do and how much you’re worth… So potentially that aspect of the film checks out.
FERNTV:  There are a lot of scenes in the film where I caught myself laughing hard because of that Toronto sarcastic humour which is prevalent in the film. Do you feel that the city is being recognized for that type of comedy? 
Lee:  Torontonians are very, very serious. We never joke. Only people from Scarborough.  Canadian humour in general tends to be pretty quirky and dry… Not mean… Just dry.  Canada Dry. But in all seriousness, I think it’s lovely that Drake and the Raptors have made us at least 20% more relevant to the rest of the world. Thanks, Drizzy.
FERNTV:  What are your thoughts on the current state of the Canadian film industry?
Lee:  Hmmm…  That’s a tough one… If you had asked me pre-quarantine times, I would have said; “it’s a vibrant, growing, exciting scene to work in.” Now? I think we’re in the same recovery process as everyone else.  I don’t know if bigger productions from the states will shoot here more or less.  If independent production will go up due to cheaper rental costs or down due to safety concerns… It’s hard to say how social distancing will affect sets and even the stories being produced.  We’re just going to have to wait and see. Although I have to say, I’m enjoying the BTS pictures from productions that have started up again; whole crews in PPE, plastic wrap draped over everything… Very sci-fi.
FERNTV:  When it comes to acting, who are you influenced by and why? 
Lee: There are actors I love; Cate Blanchett, Catherine O’Hara, Catherine Keener… All of the famous Cates and Catherines… And Elisabeth Moss… But I try to let the story and aesthetic of the project be my inspiration. To let each film organically inform my process.  I try to find music, or films or even literature that “vibes” with whatever I’m working on. To draw maps, or write backstory or sometimes even do movement exploration to find unique things.
FERNTV:  How do actresses like yourself move forward or maintain inspiration during this COVID-19 pandemic? 
Lee:  You know, it’s funny…I spent the first part of the shutdown feeling restless. I kept trying to push forward, develop, reach, grow, and be disciplined. But one of the most valuable things that have emerged from our…collective compulsory holiday… Is a sense of calm. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I can be still and breathe. Perhaps periods of lower output are important too, I think they help reset your sensitivity to the world around you. Sometimes it’s okay to just be.
FERNTV:  What are some of your future projects at this point?
Lee:  I have some cool ones on the horizon!  One of the interesting aspects of the shutdown is that all of the things I’ve been working on have been bottlenecked and will all be coming out simultaneously in 2021.  There’ll be a really neat period piece called Of Wise and Earnest Men that was shot on 35mm, A quirky economic comedy called Think About a Dolphin for Once. A western horror called The Young Wife, and my hyper-visual, tactile, short called Sit. I’m excited about all of them!
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Sometimes you just got to do it all when it comes to your craft and to become successful in your industry.  Canada’s own Sidney Leeder has done just that as she has danced, acted and produced to make herself known in the industry.  Sidney Leeder has seized the many opportunities that have been given to her and she has made sure that he has gone above and beyond in her work.  She will be talking at the T.O. WebFest in the Telefilm Talent to Watch Program to share her experiences and what it is like to work the many roles in this difficult industry.   Sidney Leeder is also a proponent of the medium and the future of the web series which is why FERNTV had to have this chat with her about its future.

FERNTV:  Tell us about your first break and how you went about getting that opportunity and how that felt?

Sidney:  While studying dance at Ryerson during my freshman year, I began sneaking off to castings between classes. The very first audition I attended was a commercial spot for Joe Fresh where I was required to dance and act. I ended up booking the job and spent spring break twirling around a massive soundstage. I just remember being so high on life and enchanted by the whole process. I wanted to do it again and again and immediately made up my mind to start a career in the film industry.     

FERNTV:  You have much experience when it comes to the production side of things as well.  Can you tell us how that also helps you out when it comes to acting?

Sidney:  It’s beneficial to understand how the machine functions as a whole. Everything, from finding your light, to having a clear view of the casting process is certainly demystified when you work in production (for better or worse). But beyond that, what I’ve found to be most helpful is the ability to connect with crew members and creatives behind the scenes. Establishing relationships with others in the industry as a filmmaker, and not just a performer, really opens the door for creatively fulfilling opportunities both in front of and behind the camera, ultimately giving you greater control over your career. 

FERNTV:  What is it like to work with Drake and how did you seize this opportunity?

Sidney:  After choreographing a music video for producer Jason Aita, I began working as his production coordinator on commercial shoots. A few months into working together, Drake’s short film Jungle came down the production pipeline. I was initially offered the position of Jason’s assistant but the project quickly snowballed to incorporate a B unit. I was promoted to second unit producer and spent the following 2 days (and nights) hustling to prep a four-day shoot! From riding the elevator of the Shangri La with Keanu Reeves, learning how to apply special effects makeup on the fly, and re-casting a caucasian baby for a black baby at 5 am with only hours to spare until shooting, it certainly was a wild ride. I also managed to squeeze in an acting/dancing cameo while on the job. Zero to 100, that’s for sure.

FERNTV:  You will be talking at the TO WebFest in the Telefilm Talent to Watch Program.  Tell us what do you expect to happen during this talk?

Sidney:  I’m looking forward to speaking with Peggy Lainis (Telefilm’s Regional Feature Film Executive) about the importance of providing first-time feature filmmakers with the opportunity and autonomy to express and control their creative visions.

FERNTV:  What is your insight when it comes to the future of web series?  

Sidney:  I believe that web series ARE the future. I think they’re an incredible way to get your voice out there, to experiment in a more artistically freeing format and to expand your reach as an artist. The possibilities are endless! 

FERNTV:  How have you been able to handle this pandemic and continually be inspired for your career?

Sidney:  Lots of writing, reflecting & resting. Learning to adapt, be patient and accept self-isolation as an opportunity for growth and creativity.

FERNTV:  Has there been a turning point in your career other than your first break and tell us why you consider this a turning point?

Sidney:  In my early twenties I developed an autoimmune disease which brought my work to screeching halt. Since then, I’ve invested a lot of time into getting my health and career back on track and observing how stress, sleep & mental health play a pivotal role in my physical well being. The film industry maintains a reputation for rigorous work hours and chronic stress. The long term expectations imposed on creatives, cast and crew can often cause or exacerbate serious health problems, both mental and physical. On productions where I hold a position of leadership, I strive to limit unnecessary stress and overtime hours on set and am always seeking out innovative ways to improve the old system and encourage a new wave of conscious creating. I believe that the desire to create should not come at the cost of one’s health and happiness. 

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