Toronto: CFC Training Local Talent for Screen Roles

Kiefer Sutherland
Wesley Mann

"Touch" (Fox)

The organization's Actors Conservatory, with outgoing chair Kiefer Sutherland, aims to give local talent an inside look at how to thrive in front of the camera.

Canadian actors usually start — and end — their careers on the stage. But a lucky few are learning how to perform in front of a camera for film and TV work as part of the Canadian Film Centre’s Actors Conservatory, now in its fifth year.

“We have amazing actors in this country who are very well trained. But very few make the transition to the screen,” says Kathryn Emslie, the CFC’s chief programs officer. The Actors Conservatory, with Kiefer Sutherland as its outgoing chair, has emerging thespians work with directors and acting coaches to learn the nuts and bolts of screen acting. The CFC also brings in mentors from Hollywood, like Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall and Rebecca Northam, who stars in the upcoming Daniel Radcliffe film The F Word.

PHOTOS: The Scene at the Toronto Film Festival 2013

“Actors need to immerse themselves in the reality of the situation and share this with others,” says Australian acting coach Lindy Davies, a Conservatory mentor. Davies adds that there is little difference between acting in front of an audience in a 700-seat theater or addressing the lens of a camera.

“The only difference lies in how far they expand their sphere of awareness within the frame,” she adds.

Yet another Conservatory mentor, Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda, brought in Patricia Clarkson, a lead in her Cairo Time feature, to illustrate the director-actor relationship on a film set.

PHOTOS: The Scene at the Toronto Film Festival 2013

“We sat down and had a conversation in front of the directors and producers and actors to provide the young people with as realistic an outlook as possible,” says Nadda.

Her hope is that actors will learn that a film director’s job is more than steering someone to a line drawn on the floor. “The first few ses- sions I overwhelm them with material,” she says, adding that some actors question why Nadda is arguably doing the work of a film producer. “I tell them if you want to have longevity in this business, it’s up to you to bring all of this together.”