“The more you know about every aspect of the media industry, the better” – Chelsey Mark

21 for 2021 Reel Film Series: Chelsey Mark

Chelsey Mark is a Canadian actor, writer, filmmaker and Host. He has booked roles on Amazon Prime’s Tales from the Loop, CBC’s Burden of Truth, APTN’s Tribal, and upcoming feature film The First Encounter. Chelsey won a spot in the Whistler Indigenous Fellowship at the Whistler Film Festival and was a finalist in the Gimli Film Festival’s RBC Pitch Competition for his short, The Callback.

Chelsey received funding to write the first draft of his feature film Skate like a Girl. His short Vengeance, Won Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best actor in the Winnipeg Film Group’s 48 Hour Film Contest.

When and how did you start in the media production industry?
As a filmmaker I would have to say it started back in 1997 when my Much Music VJ competition video got aired nationally.  After that I have earned my 10,000 hours on stage from 2000-2018 in China as a singer TV host and actor.  Some of my personal highlights was being the host for the official TV program of the NBA Made in China and hosting Taylor Swifts concert fan meet and greet.

What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I am an actor and filmmaker.  I’m an actor because I’m a performer at heart. Being a filmmaker fills my love to be create and bring stories to life. I love how media brings one vision to life. Ultimately being a filmmaker is also a huge tool in moulding my acting craft. Understanding story structure and every part of film production is essential to booking roles and giving great performances.

What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started? It would have to be social media.  Social media popularity and presence can be both good and bad.  The Good: If you are popular it can bring more opportunities, people see you aren’t cray cray and allows you to form your brand.  The Bad: People can form opinions about you before they even meet you, they can see how you are cray cray and it’s a lot of work to upkeep.

If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
Friends and family are the most important! Take care of our friends and family is #1 priority.  Career doesn’t matter, money doesn’t matter and nothing matters other than friends and family because in the end these are the people who are on this ride till the end.  

How did taking FTM training affect your career?
Each time I take an FTM course it reminds me there are actual great courses out there.  In the last couple of years I have tried to take every film related courses here in Winnipeg. FTM courses are always a cut above.  Some of my favorite courses over the years have been Auditioning with Peter Skagen, Cinematography with Benjamin Loeb and Advanced On-camera with Aaron Craven. The acting courses have directly affected my career in booking roles.

What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
Take every course and workshop you possibly can. This is where you will learn what to do and what not to do. Here is where you will network in a great learning environment.  The more you know about every aspect of the media industry the better.

What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into?
I saw Lalaland in the theater in Los Angeles and it made me feel it was possible to be live my artistic dreams of being an actor. Lalaland made me believe.  

My first year in China in 2001 I was alone and wanted to go traveling but didn’t’ have the courage, The Beach gave me the courage to go traveling by myself in China.

Empire of Dreams documentary revealed how even the most amazing movie of all time Star Wars wasn’t even supposed to be completed. It inspired me that each production is going to be difficult and the proper attitude is there are no problems, only solutions.

Last but not least my favorite movie of all time: Major League.  It inspires me to make a movie that can live forever and be entertaining each replay.

As for the new things I’ve watched which are definitely worth a watch: The Mandalorian, The Last Dance, Tiger King, Eighth Grade, The playbook: A Coaches rules for life, Trial 4, and of course Burden of Truth, Tribal and Tales from the loop. (These are all shot in Manitoba and ones I booked roles in…thanks for the support! )

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
Each time I meet fellow artists I’m always excited to learn of all the projects they are working on and happy for everyone’s success in their field.  I recently learnt an interesting word from the Doc Rivers episode of The Playbook. Ubuntu- I am, because you are.  I can’t be all I can be unless you can be all you can be. I feel there is a lot of unnecessary competition between industry people but the reality is I can’t be better unless you and we all get better. So let’s go do this together! (I hope you understand what I’m trying to say…)

Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
Actor wise I’m really just focused on booking on all of the locally directed films and series.  I really feel that the more familiar we become the better the quality of the projects become.  

If I had to pick a globally famous person to work with it would have to be Keanu Reeves.  I feel Keanu would be willing to share all of his industry secrets and genuinely be the awesome human being we have all heard him to be.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Ten years from now I see myself as an established director making solid feature films and tv series. I also see myself regularly booking leads as one of the most sought after actor’s from Canada. I will also be an integral part of the film community giving back by having workshops, classes and mentees.  There’s also a saying you should never tell anyone your goals, just go and do them…so forget what I just said.  Ask me in ten years!