What’s it like to go to work each day dressed in medieval garb and play in a castle? Just ask Acting for Film & Television grad Eric Johnston. Eric recently completed work on Season 2 of Splatalot!, a YTV medieval-themed game show for kids, similar to Wipeout. We caught up with Eric to learn more about the show, his journey to acting school, and life after VFS.
Why did you choose to come to Vancouver Film School and study acting?
Eric: I grew up in the theatre world, so when it came for post-secondary education I just assumed I had to go to theatre school. After a short time, I realized that film and television was something I always truly wanted to do. Going to the United States was an option but I wanted to stay Canadian and experience the West Coast, so packing up and coming to VFS was a very easy decision.
You graduated last year and have just finished work on Splatalot!. Tell us about the show and about your experience filming it.
Eric: Splatalot was one of the most amazing and hilarious experiences of my life. Splatalot! is basically Wipeout and American Gladiators in a medieval setting. I play a defender of the castle named Vane. Vane is a cocky, lazy, jacked, and tanned Jersey Shore type of character. I grew up in Stoney Creek, Ontario, which is basically the Jersey Shore of Southern Ontario. The character was very easy for me to develop as Vane is basically an exaggerated version of myself. I mean, I workout, I would be lying if I said I’ve never tanned before, and I believe that naps are the most important part of the day.
On top of creating this funny and wild character, I was able to work with one of best cast and crews ever. They are from all over the world and were some of the nicest, most interesting people I’ve ever met. Also, the fact that I got to play inside a big medieval castle for six weeks was the icing on the cake or the “mayo on the turkey sandwich” as Vane would say.
How did your time at VFS help you with the show?
Eric: The funniest part of this experience is that Vane is basically the person I was when I came to VFS. I was a young, comedic actor with a lot to prove, coming across the country to film school which a bunch of strangers. I was really scared and my way of dealing with it was to become this young, cocky “actor”.
As time went by, and with the help of the many amazing VFS instructors and great friends I made there, I was able to drop all the bull and dig down to who I really was. That character I put on was nothing but just a chracter and I was able to take a lot of those same traits to develop Vane.
Can you tell us about any projects you have coming up?
Eric: I have always been, and will always be, an entertainer. Now that Splatalot! has finished filming, my days are filled with working on new projects. During the day, I drive back and forth to Toronto for auditions. At night, I am a stand-up comedian – something that I started doing in while at VFS. I just won a Toronto stand-up comedy competition and I have opened for some of Canada’s biggest comics. I will also be planning a tour of my own in the new year.
Currently, I am a correspondent on Hamilton’s Rock Station – Y108 and I have also started my own production company – Bullwhip Productions, which produces short films, online content, and even live stand-up events and film festivals.
What advice do you have for current or future acting students?
Eric: I say same thing to everyone – “Make your Own Future”. I am a firm believer in not waiting for the phone to ring. VFS is a great institution and gives you so many amazing skills and experiences. I learned more at VFS in the one-year Acting for Film & Television program then I did doing it on my own for years.
However, once you leave VFS, you are on your own in this big industry we call show business. As soon as I graduated I was off the races. I was getting new headshots, developing my resume, making DVD copies of my promo reel, and knocking on the doors of as many agencies as I could. I even helped veteran Canadian actor Christian Potenza move from his apartment in Toronto. Nothing says drive like lifting couches for seven hours.
I’m not telling young actors to start their own moving company but I am saying when opportunity knocks, open the door and if opportunity doesn’t knock, go knocking on their doors – deep I know. You will hear this on your first day of VFS and it needs to stick with you for your whole life as an actor – “JUST SAY YES!”
Thanks for chatting with us, Eric! Catch Season 2 of Splatalot! when it begins airing worldwide this November on YTV (Canada), Nickelodeon and ABC Spark (United States), BBC Kids (UK), and ABC3 (Australia). Splatalot! will also be shown in the Czech Republic and The Netherlands so check your local listings for more info.