The Ottawa-born, Ryerson University graduate tells Jeremy Kay why he was the perfect person to play a booze and drug-addled former child star who bluffs his way into a job as a high school guidance counsellor.
The Canadian dark comedy Guidance gets its world premiere in Discovery on September 5.
Where does this outrageous, rather tragic creation David Gold come from?
I kind of created the character out of my own personality. I created an alter ego. I had been developing other film projects and primarily write teenage stories, so I had all this dialogue I wanted to use. I tend to write outcasts and created this guidance counsellor based on my own insecurities.
Why the affinity for teenage stories?
I am kind of immature and think like a teen and it’s the easiest dialogue for me to come up with. The teen years are the ones that created me as an artist. Those years always stick with me and I go back to them when I write.
You’ve done shorts and Guidance is your first feature. And you star. Have you acted much?
I haven’t done a ton of acting since I was a kid.
Hang on, the character in the movie is a former child star
You look so natural on screen. What was it like directing yourself?
I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to pull it off. It’s my first feature, which is a risk anyway, so I though I would go into the deep end and dump myself in it. It ended up being a positive experience because being in the scenes I could see the subtle nuances that I wouldn’t have seen on the monitor. I was able to nudge the actors too. It was helpful to me to be emotionally in the scenes and if it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to I could keep the cameras going and do improv. It ended up being something organic and I was scared shitless.
Was there a lot of improv?
There ended up being a lot of improv in the scenes in the guidance office. I kept two cameras going and a lot of stuff was ad-libbed.
You have a cool young cast that seems very fresh
The casting directors brought in all these amazing actors. There’s a lot of talent in Toronto and we managed to get the best of the best young emerging actors. I wanted these teens to seem real. I didn’t want that 90210, polished thing.
Did it take you long to write?
I wrote the first draft in 10 days and we had it ready and Telefilm Canada responded to it and suggested we make it first. It was mainly to get my feet wet before there was a lot of money on the line [in future feature projects]. it was a gamble but I’m glad we did it.
So did Guidance go before another feature you might have in the works?
I have this other feature that won Telefilm Canada’s PITCH THIS! contest called Don’t Talk To Irene and it was ready to go but there were challenges to getting it made. We’re trying to set it up and hopefully I can shoot it next year.
What was it like hearing you were in the Toronto International Film Festival?
When they called me I thought they were calling to soften the blow. I was completely in shock. I was prepared for rejection because that’s how I deal with most things in life.