Jason Tobias – Terrordactyl
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I wrapped on a film earlier this year for Marvista, which is called To Have And To Kill. It is a dramatic thriller about a couple of couples. Another project I wrapped on was an action thriller called Air Speed. Also, I just got finished doing “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn” for Nickelodeon. So, it’s been a lot of fun!
Q) We’re getting to see you in Terrordactyl. What made you want be a part of the film?
A) The major reason I wanted to be a part of it was because my friends were doing it. Whenever you have the opportunity to work with your friends, it’s not always a match made in heaven. It can be very stressful when you are doing anything that involves creativity and long hours, but when you are working with very talented people that you also have a commonality and rapport with them there is a level of stress that gets relieved because you know how to work with that person. Plus, my friends are a very talented bunch that I’m very happy to collaborate with them.
Q) How was your character Jonas originally described to you?
A) When they first explained the character to me, Geoff Reisner (one of the directors) reached out and said Jonas is this kind of lovable goofball and he really didn’t see any of that. He said, “You are kind of this bigger guy who is kind of an action adventure guy and I don’t know if there is that potential for Jonas to be.” So, I said, “That’s the joy of acting. You can act like somebody else.” When given the opportunity, I got to do some chemistry reads with some of the actresses they were bringing in to cast as Candice. They saw the way I was reading with them and something led to the other. I was fortunate enough to be cast as Jonas. But he was described to me as this lovable dreamer who always had one foot on the ground and one foot in the get rich quick scheme. He had a heart of gold, but would react first and then think second.
Q) What did you find challenging about portraying him?
A) The most challenging part about Jonas is that he is very unsure of himself, but through the arc of the film he starts to find that confidence. Me, personally, I am a very confident person. To be very vulnerable in that capacity, strip yourself away and show a lot of your insecurities and that feeling of not being as sure, there is something about trying to find the truth in that. And the truth in that can come off as misleading sometimes and can come off as acting if it is not done well. The acting can be very bad. So, the challenging part was to play someone unsure of themselves. I’m not saying I’m narcissistic or vain, but I’m someone who believes in what they do and I’m very confident in my actions. So, to play a character that way was very challenging.
Q) What advice did the directors give you during filming took with you to heart?
A) For the most part, it was kind of letting the character evolve on its own during filming. One of the biggest things about acting is we can’t do our jobs well if the words aren’t there. We can only do as much as we can if the words that are written there. Don [Bitters III] had a funny script that read well. You’d be surprised how much work is already done for you just by reading the words. The words themselves are a character and if you read the word and find the pacing, diction, chemistry and execution and the annunciation then those things work together almost like a stew then you really have this great thing that starts to happen. The advice I was given was hear what is being said, listen and be in the moment. Those are all acting traits that you bring to work with you all the time.
Q) What were some of your most memorable moments from filming the movie?
A) I would say the first one that kind of sticks out to me is the bar scene with Lars (Christopher John Jennings) and Candice (Candice Nunes). We shot at this bar for a few days and it really reminded me of what guys do where you have a crush on a girl and you are not stalking her, but trying to keep in her peripheral vision. You’re just nervous and trying to figure out what to say. You’re trying to be cool, calm and collected and your buddy can clearly tell you are flustered and off your game. It was fun playing that scene out, having some fun with it and finding the truth, chemistry and beats with Candice and Chris. Another scene I had a good time filming was with Candice and I on this couch and she is telling me about her past. It is a very touching moment between Jonas and Candice since he is finally letting his vulnerability go. He is just letting her know at this point that he isn’t really good at this. Instead of trying to be cool and talking about the cool things he can and cannot do, he is just being very honest at the moment and she is accepting him and starting to finally see him for what he is, too. It’s a very heartfelt moment that I think plays out well in the film. I hope people can see that and resonate it with it as well because in relationships sometimes those are the moments we remember when you are being vulnerable and being truthful. Those are the scenes I really enjoyed. And any scene I got to use the flame blower was pretty cool!
Q) What did you take away from your time working on Terrordactyl?
A) What I took away was that when people work hard and when they sacrifice and work together they can really make something cool. Everybody has to be clicking on all cylinders just because we shoot for seventeen to twenty-five days it doesn’t mean the job is over. This is the first feature film where I have had as much hands on experience. Other things I have shot where I have been told, “Thank you very much for your services and we’ll be contacting you when the movie is going to premiere and about social media.” Because these people are my friends and I still continue to work with them daily and talk to them about the process it was very personal. The journey of seeing it come to fruition and the struggles that it takes to make a film, I really don’t think the majority of the public understands what it takes to make a film. That isn’t to say that somebody doesn’t have any idea, but it just is a very time consuming process to make a film, especially if you want to make a decent film. I learned a lot!
Q) What made you want to be an actor?
A) I’ve always loved movies and always had a very, very active imagination. Movies like The Last Action Hero, Ghostbusters, Goonies, Star Wars and Indiana Jones – I wanted to be these people when I was younger. I think every kid has this over active imagination when they are playing with their action figures, drawing, painting or playing dress up. Sports just kind of took over my life for a big, big portion of it. When you are playing sports close to 365 days in the year there isn’t a lot of time for other things. Especially at the time I thought it was going to be a potential future for me, but I always wanted to act. Being in Ohio in high school and college, the avenues were obviously not as plentiful as say LA or New York or Chicago. There is a small community in Ohio, but nearly as large of scale in other places.
Q) What did your parents think of you becoming an actor?
A) They were supportive. I think that any parent whose child says, “I want to be an actor,” their first gut reaction is “Okay…I wish you the best.” If you don’t already have a family member or some kind of connection in the entertainment industry or you haven’t been acting since you were a child it is challenging to have a career. They have been very supportive. My dad has been working in entertainment for a large portion of his life and he understands very much the ups and downs – the lean times and when the getting is good.
Q) We have seen you in a lot of action and sci-fi films. Is that what you gravitate towards?
A) I love comedy. I absolutely love them. With Terrordactyl, the amount of comedy that was in it I was excited to be a part of it. I typically don’t get cast or brought in for comedy stuff. I did shoot that Nickelodeon show and that is a comedic role I have in there. Your look will determine a lot of how you get brought in for and what you go out for. When people look at me, they don’t initially think, “Hey, that guy could be funny.” They think he could be the cowboy, the pirate, the knight, the Viking or the bounty hunter. They don’t think, “Hey, that guy can make a joke and make you laugh.” Your look determines a lot of the first initial doors being opened. But I love sci-fi and drama and really enjoy comedy. One of my favorite movies is The Color Purple. It’s amazingly directed and performed film. It’s such a moving film. So, I hope to continue to grow as I get more opportunities in my career.
Q) We’ll be seeing you appear at Comic Con. As someone who is a fan of the sci-fi drama, what is it like for you getting to participate?
A) I’ve been going to cons for about five years now and I love the atmosphere and what is on display. It really is an awesome event if you are into that type of media and subculture. You really have something gong no everywhere. Your head is going to be on a swivel looking every which way, but if you have a passion…There is something there for everyone. I’m very happy that we have the opportunity to share Terrordactyl with people at Comic Con because this is a big feather in our cap for us to be at one of the biggest – if not the biggest – pop culture/comic/media/film event where people converge to talk about it and to be able to share our content with people is exciting.
Q) You are a part of social media. Are you excited for the instant fan feedback you will receive?
A) I’ve had some experience with that in the past, which can be very positive and sometimes the internet can be very rough at the same time. But that’s part of the job. I’m really looking forward to it.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure fans know about the movie?
A) Go into it having a good time. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s there to give you some laughs. It’s there to make you say “whoa” a little bit. We hope at the end of the day it reminds you of Ghostbusters or Tremors – a film where you walk out thinking, “I was pleasantly surprised by it.” Go in, enjoy yourself and just know that we are not taking ourselves too seriously. We just hope we have entertained you for ninety minutes.