Aaron Merke is a man of many talents. Not only is he a comedian who’s appeared on national TV (MuchMusic’s Video On Trial), he’s also a talented actor and special effects make up artist.
We caught up with him to hear his story and ask for the advice he’d give to up and comers in today’s industry.
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
Oh man! I started my career in media when I was living in Toronto. I had been working on my comedy at places like Second City and wherever else I could get time on stage. I was about ten years in to my comedy career, but only a couple years into my stand-up career.
I had done a set at the Rivoli when a producer from Much Music approached me to work on a show called “Video on Trial”. It was a crazy time.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I work in few areas. Still an actor. I love it. Odd props gigs. Another big passion of mine is makeup, and special effects make-up. I do this because I’m good at it and have a love for it.
Making people look like the characters they portray is empowering and exciting. When it comes down to it, I love film. I just directed a short film called Only Human with some top-notch crew here. It has been such an amazing experience to shoot something I think will resonate with people at film festivals.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
Accessibility to it. Maybe because I’ve been around it for a while. But it seems like people are rising quicker and faster in the ranks. Winnipeg and Manitoba’s film industry might be on pause for Covid, but it’s growing.
If you could your past self advice what would it be?
You have to communicate what you can do. I’m still working on this one. No one has a clue of what you can do until you do it. Show them and don’t wait for them to tell you to do it. Give yourself the permission. Take responsibility.
What advice would you give someone starting off in the media production industry?
Keep your eyes on your own paper. I think the stress of needing to “make it” and looking at what other people are doing is dangerous for your confidence. Real, true confidence is king.
Why is learning and training important?
Well, we are constantly growing and changing. If you stop, you’re just settling on one way of doing it. You’ll never
know if there is a better way and you’re just waiting to you become obsolete. In special effects make up things are
changing so fast. It’s amazing.
What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about
anything new you’ve been into?
I have been really inspired by YouTube as of late. I started my own channel to start compiling everything I do in one place. Check it out! It has been a lot of fun and therapeutic for me during these Covid End Times. For movies, anything by John Hughes or Paul Thomas Andersons. For TV it’s Freaks and Geeks, hands down. A book I love is The Fourth Turning. I love deep diving into historical patterns. NERD!
Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with
I studied comedy in Chicago. I was in the last class under a guy named Del Close. He has great a story and had a huge impact on the entertainment industry. Look him up.
Who is someone in the film industry you would like to work with and why?
Kazuhiro Tsuji. His character make-up is the most amazing you’ll ever see.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Producing and directing projects with my wife Lauren Cochrane.
FTM is a member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program through the Department of Economic Development and Training. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates with members of the film and television industry to identify the training needs within the community.