Featured PA Filmmaker - Brian Anthony Wilson

Friday, January 03, 2020 2:37 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

  Article By: Maria Shamkalian
PAFIA Vice-Chair

Brian Anthony Wilson began his film career with the Supporting Lead role of 'Woody' in Kevin Costner's 1997 film, "The Postman". Since then, he has appeared in over 160 Film/TV Projects. Selected credits include : Ocean's 8, Glass, How To Get Girls, Creed, Limitless, Title VII, 6 Souls, Crooked & Narrow, Keeping The Faith / Mare of Easttown (HBO), Dispatches From Elsewhere (AMC), Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu), Siren (FreeForm), Bull (CBS), Bloodline (Netflix), Gotham (Fox), Broad City (Comedy Central), Blue Bloods (CBS), Law & Order : SVU (NBC), The Sopranos & The Wire (HBO).

Recent Theatre: Looking Over The President's Shoulder (one-man show @ Act II Playhouse), King Lear (SCP), Gem Of The Ocean * Barrymore Award * (Arden Theatre), Thurgood (One man show @ Olney Theatre Center) & Fences (J.A.G. Prod., VT).

What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
My most recent success was getting to portray 'Eddie, the EMT', in a scene opposite the amazing & gracious Kate Winslet, in the locally shot HBO, mini-series, "Mare Of Easttown". Ms. Winslet is in my top 5 favorite Actors, what a thrill!

How did you get started in the film industry?
I got started in the film industry with a Supporting Lead role in the epic post apocalyptic Film, "The Postman", with Oscar winning Director, Kevin Costner, in 1997. I auditioned, with the help of Mike Lemon, via VHS tape (2 scenes, 6 lines), which I sent, via FedEx, out to L.A. On the strength of that tape, the Producers flew me out to their Production Office, on location in Tucson, AZ, to meet with Mr. Costner. I was told, "if he likes you, be prepared to stay for 10 days of rehearsal, if not, you'll be on the next flight back to Philadelphia". Mr. Costner was out scouting locations, so was l lead to a room to await his arrival. I walked through a doorway, that had '222' above it, which i took as a good omen, as my Bday is February 22nd. I met with Mr. Costner, discussing the script (which i read on the flight out) and the film/his expectations. When asked, I explained i had no film/T.V. experience, only 10+ years of Theatre training/performing in plays. We spoke for about 16 minutes, after which, he offered me the role of 'Woody'. I was thrilled, to say the least! I was not in S.A.G. at the time but was given a 'Taft-Hartley' waiver to work on the film. In all, i spent 5 & 1/2 weeks, rehearsing & filming the Movie. Shooting on picturesque locations in Tucson, AZ & Bend, OR. It was a Life defining experience.

Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
I 'choose' to work in PA (born & raised in Philly but have been living in South Jersey since 2004) because the vast majority of my Family is here, including my Wife, who is a Professor in Philly, my kid & my Mommy, who still lives in Mt. Airy. I love working here because of the proximity of my Family and also because, i'm a bit of a 'known entity' here. whereas in L.A. or NYC, i'm a 'who the heck is he?', actor :).

What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
Favorite shooting locations? Shooting at City Hall for my two, quick scenes in "Law Abiding Citizen" (opposite Gerald Butler & Jamie Foxx) was pretty cool! Also, I love the rural Pennsylvania locations of several M. Night films I've been honored to work on, like "The Happening" & "Glass", lots of greenery & cows.

What do you love the most about your job?
As my first NY Agent told me, after shooting "The Postman", "You're Immortal baby!". I am Blessed to do a ton of Theatre but once the show closes, that's it; all the blood, sweat & tears you poured out onstage is gone, forever. But with Film/T.V. projects, you can revisit your work (which can sometimes be a bittersweet thing) as long as the medium of Film & T.V., exists. Also, I LOVE the nuance & subtlety of doing Film, where you can do so much, with the lift of an eyebrow or turn of the head, as opposed to Theatre, where you have to 'reach the audience member sitting in the back row', you have to be a lot 'bigger'!

What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
Most awkward was when I shot "Keeping The Faith", directed by (and starring) the amazing & gracious, Edward Norton. There was a scene where my character has to 'close line', the the other leading actor, Ben Stiller. I rehearsed the scene with the stunt coordinator for around a half hour and all went well (I had stage combat training and was confident in my ability) but when it came time to shoot the scene, Mr. Stiller told me, "I don't want you touch me" (or words to that effect). Then after a few takes, Mr. Stiller complained that the move felt false and my 'arm recoil' was not true. Of course, it didn't help the action because he didn't want me to make contact with him. I was perplexed, because he's a big Star and I'm a nobody. I tried my best but if you watch the film, you can see that I actually do not make contact with him. Such is the Biz.

Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
Upcoming Projects include, a small recurring role on the (wonderful) Jason Segel helmed, AMC T.V. series, "Dispatches From Elsewhere"; a supporting Lead role as a Police Chief, in the indie thriller, "Shimmer"; a Lead role in an indie Horror Film, "Room 9" (recently acquired by Lionsgate) ;  a supporting Lead role as a Psychiatrist in the Jillian Bullock helmed psychological thriller, "A Cup Full Of Crazy" (filming in Philly in May) and a Lead role as a Police Captain, hell bent on Justice & revenge, in a new T.V. Pilot, "D.O.P.E Unit", by PhilaDream Films, shooting in Philly in 2020. Whew!

PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
I honestly think its a bit a 'no-brainer' because of the VAST amount of 'return on investment' that happens when these Film/T.V. Projects shoot here. They spend BIG Bucks, housing actors, producers & crew; feeding them, buying props/costume, all LOCALLY! Its made a difference in my life by allowing to work on a number of Hollywood Films, opposite a few Oscar winning Artists, right here, in my hometown, without flying out to L.A.!

What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
My advice to aspiring actors and filmmakers? Learn your craft! Take classes, do student films, write your own content, don't sit & wait for 'the Business' to come to you. If you make (or act in or produce) a compelling product, guess what, they'll come to YOU! The Industry is thirsty for new Content, especially with SO many different venues (Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, etc). Learn/practice your craft whenever you get an opportunity, even if its just a reading or a table read (I've been cast from both!). Don't just go see the Blockbusters, go see/support and learn from indie films (even ones with sub-titles) and go to LIVE Theatre. Study with different people and ask questions when you get on set. And of course LIVE LIFE and observe people & the human condition.

What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
Networking. Networking & Networking! And the 'usual suspects' : Actors Access, Backstage.com, Castingnetworks.com, Film.org & more! Google auditions. 

What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
Be professional, on time and courteous/respectful to all around you (but my Daddy taught me that years ago!). Research who you're going to be auditioning for/working with, tons of info on the web and knowledge is Power! Also, know your worth and don't compromise your ethics, go with your gut instincts. Sometimes, saying "No, thank you", can be a good thing.

What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
Favorite Film shot in PA?  "Crooked and Narrow" ; a gritty, superbly written, acted & directed (by Neal Dhand) indie film, its also a lovely homage to Philly. My first scene was shot in front of the Rizzo mural in South Philly! Its available on Amazon Prime.

What is your favorite project that you worked on?
Favorite Project I worked on? "99% Sure", a wonderful little "Rom-Com', with wit, substance, heart and a stellar cast/crew!

What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
My biggest aspiration? A Series Regular role on a long running and well written show. I'm past ready and my skill set is honed to do great work!

What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects? 
Probably Film.org or scouring Facebook and reaching out directly, if we're linked on any media platforms.

Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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