Your new movie Last Call
- in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
is a story about two strangers whose lives intersect one night
over a phone call that could save a man's life. I play Scott, a depressed
and suicidal alcoholic who is giving the universe every chance to tell him
he should stick around and decides to call the suicide hotline number he
had written down months earlier - only to find out he wrote the number down
wrong and calls a local community college where the night janitor answers.
What follows is the dance of a man who doesn't feel like he should live
to see tomorrow, and a woman who cares enough to try and help a stranger.
What did you draw upon to bring your
character to life, and how much Daved Wilkins can we find in Scott?
spent a good year and half developing the character slowly over the
writing process. I spoke with people who had lost someone to suicide and
people who had attempted and thankfully failed. Throughout my own life I
have suffered from anxiety and depression and I know how quickly the
thoughts can spiral and how blind it can make you to hope. The negative
thoughts can be hard to overcome and you tend to isolate yourself even
more from those who care about you and who could offer help. Almost like a
an actor, was it any strain for you to never come face to face with your
co-star during the entire movie?
had the advantage of only rehearsing over the phone. My co-star Sarah
Booth [Sarah Booth interview -
click here] was already in
Canada and I was living in Los Angeles so by the time we all descended on
Windsor where we were filming, we were both used to these characters not
reacting off of each other's body language or facial expressions. It
forced me to have to really listen and stay present. It was a challenge
but staying present took away all the distractions of the camera and the
small space to navigate.
You've also co-written
the movie together with director Gavin Michael Booth [Gavin
Michael Booth interview - click here] - so what were your
sources of inspiration when writing, and what can you tell us about your
collaboration with Gavin?
was my first collaboration with Gavin. I have always written with another
person so for me it was just learning how our styles could complement each
other. We are both very fond of dialogue and would go back and forth about
the tiniest line to get it just right. Grounded and authentic were the
names of the game for us. Making sure these felt like real people in a real
situation so that an audience could let themselves get lost in the
naturally voyeuristic nature of seeing both characters for the entirety of
the film. We felt like if we both felt good about it then it would come
across that way, and for the most part that is how every audience has
Was it intended from the get-go that
Call would be shot in one continuous take or did that idea
develop only later?
What came first was the story, that was always the most important part.
When I pitched to Gavin the idea of a man calling a suicide hotline I knew
that in order to keep an audiences attention for 80 minutes we would need
to do somehting bold and outside the box, so I told him I wanted to shoot it
in one take and show it split screen so you would see both characters at
all times. I had worked with Gavin on a single take music video just a
month or two prior to bringing him this idea, and I knew he had written
another script that would be four continuous shots like Timecode, so
it didn't take much convincing to get him 100% on board.
I would assume that more rehearsals
go into making a single take movie like Last
Call than a regular feature - so what was the rehearsing process
you eliminate the ability to edit a film, you have to essentially edit
while you're writing. We made a lot of changes during the rehearsal
process on location to make certain everything flowed smoothly and that
the timing worked right. We would run through the script twice at one
location and then move to the second location and run it twice again,
either Sarah or I off in a room somewhere so we could continue the
process without seeing each other. The hardest part for me was
accessing all the emotion time and time again. It would take hours after
we wrapped each night to get my mind settled.
The shoot as such - how psyched and/or nervous
have you been through it all, and in your personal opinion, were there
parts that didn't come out right? And how many takes did it actually take
to nail it?
are always our own worst critics, right? There are definitely moments from
other takes that might have been more powerful but the one we chose to be
the final film just seemed to hit on every level. We ended with 5 complete
takes of the film to choose from and, apart from the first one, they all
had some incredible moments that I'd love for the world to see someday.
Based on your experience with Last
Call, could you ever be persuaded to make another continuous-take
I don't think so. I'd be tempted to shoot long takes or tracking shots, but
unless the single take really helped tell the story in the best possible
way, I'd much rather be able to take the time with an editor and piece the
film together like a beautiful puzzle.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
am finishing a new draft of a faith-based thriller that I'm
particularly excited about. It's a story that I've had kicking around
my head for 25 years now and to have it out on paper is already thrilling
but being able to bring it to life is going to be an amazing experience.
got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
grandmother was a silent film actress (Baby Jeanne Carpenter), so I was
always aware of acting as a thing, but it wasn't until I first got on a
stage and heard the audience laugh that I fell in love with it. That said,
I still spent a lot of time trying to convince myself I didn't want to do
that with my life, so I never trained formally. I took classes and
workshops once I moved to LA, and I found most of them were helpful because
they expanded my network of people in a new city.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Last
have worked on a couple of larger budget films and interesting indies,
almost always because a friend was directing or producing. I realized
pretty early on being out in LA that I was going to need to write and
create my own things if I wanted to stay busy and fulfilled, so I've made
a few short films or sketches over the years as I've continued to figure
out who I am and what story I have to tell.
How would you describe yourself as an
actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
boy. I always try to find a piece of myself in any character I play.
Something that connects me to them. I've been told I'm a little
unpredictable on screen, and I like that. When something is
unpredictable, you really have to pay attention to it.
(and indeed actresses) who inspire you?
Williams has been a lifelong inspiration. When he died I took it so hard,
like a family member had passed. I'm always attracted to comedians who
delve into more dramatic works, or who just have a unique way about
them, like Robert Downey jr and Paul Rudd who became superheroes. But I
look more like Paul Giamatti, so I guess I'll just have to settle for his
Princess Bride is my number one always. I think it's perfect. Some other
top favorites would be Shaun of the
Dead, Jerry Maguire, Meet Joe Black,
and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Those movies I will almost always watch if
I come across them.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
don't have the time or bandwidth to hold on to bad movies. There are so
many good ones, I'd rather just focus on that. If I'm watching a movie and
it's really bad, I just stop watching that movie. Life's too short to
watch bad movies.
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