Before GWCT

Helping Edmonton actors prior to becoming an agent and forming Great West Canadian Talent.

ERIC JOHNSON – Actra/SAG (IMDB-link)

One of the first results of his training was a young actor by the name of Eric Johnson. After teaching a summer intensive in film acting for kids and teens at The Actors Studio, (co-owned by casting director Bette Chadwick of The Other Agency casting) that Eric was in, he was asked by Bette Chadwick if there were any kids from the training he could recommend for a feature film shooting in Edmonton. He referred two kids, one of them being an 11 or 12 year old Eric Johnson for an audition. She gave Eric an audition and said since Bill had recommended him he should coach him before the audition to make sure, which he did for free. Mr. Davidson was not an agent at the time, only an actor and teacher. Well unfortunately the coaching was scheduled by casting at their office right before the audition, something he would have avoided if given the choice, and the actor was extremely nervous for his first audition, having been trained in film acting but not auditions yet. He coached him on the acting and the audition protocols, but was only able to get rid of half of the nerves. When the casting director came back after the auditions and said, “he was too nervous”, Mr. Davidson’s response was just wait, he is talented and he really wants to do it, hence the nerves. Give him a chance and you will see.

A year later Eric won the role of a young Tristan (Brad Pitt) in the Alberta filmed Legends of The Falls. He went on later to some supporting and lead roles in Alberta Films and TV movies, followed by later as an adult a recurring role on Smallville, then more Canadian roles, then the lead role in the series Flash Gordon, a recurring role on Rookie Blue, and now is a lead recurring role on the American series The Knick from Cinemax. A pretty good sign that Mr. Davidson while still an actor could spot and help get going talent with potential.

DAKOTA HOUSE – Actra (IMDB-link)

Also while still an actor and getting going as a teacher and coach, Mr. Davidson was asked by casting director Bette Chadwick to work with a young actor by the name of Dakota House for his callback and final audition for a supporting role on the Anne Wheeler CBC film “The Diviners”. Mr. House had at the time dropped out of a course taught by another instructor and was up against an actor from Ontario. Mr. Davidson agreed on a bet with the casting director to coach him for no fees other than the bet reward, to help the young actor with his callback. He devised a two part coaching after the assessment of the audition, and Dakota won the role. Mr. Davidson had taken over the acting course Mr. House had dropped out of, and on the request of casting convinced Mr. House to complete the course. After the course, in order to work on the scenes from the Diviners to keep them fresh before filming and to teach him further audition skills, he put Mr. House in a three-part film acting and audition course to work on the film scenes and on film auditions. From that role Dakota went on to a role on an Alberta film Medicine River, and then on to a recurring lead role on the Alberta film series “North of 60”, and has gone on to many other film and TV series since then.

NATHAN FILLION – Actra/SAG (IMDB-link)

His next helping actors get started project began while acting in the lead role of the fringe hit original play “The Maltese Bodkin”. After inviting casting and someone who was starting out as an agent in Edmonton to see the show, he was interested in how they saw two other actors in the show he thought had a high degree of potential for film acting. Upon getting what felt like a lukewarm reception from casting for one of the actors, something like they didn’t particularly remember as they saw a late night show but was sure he was good, and then from the future agent that he remembered the guy with the cool haircut and thought he was good, he promptly told casting and the agent that he could see the one young actor as a lead on a TV show in the future, and in particular on a US series. He recalls the two looking at him like that was a pretty big prediction and how/why exactly would he say that. At that point Mr. Davidson made it his actual conscious objective to get that talent started on the road to what he thought he could do.

The first step began with getting casting to see the actor for his first commercial audition on his word, sight unseen and without a photo and resume. After nearly getting hired the actor wasn’t really moving on getting a photo and resume. During an extended holdover of the show when Mr. Davidson got locked out of his apartment for a few days when his caretaker was on vacation, the young actor provided clothing gifts to help Bill out along with another actor in the cast giving him a place to stay. So he decided to get the actor moving and gave him a scholarship to take his next three part film acting/audition course, and booked him in for discounted professional photos through The Actors Studio. During the course he brought in the future agent to operate the camera to show him the students including this young talent, and then after the course was over made a point of going in to see the casting director to give her the tape of the class to watch. After a sit down with the young actor and his mother to choose photos, (unfortunately the actor had a bad hair day decision for the shoot so not sure if those photos were ever used much) and convince the mother that it would not affect his university teacher training, one of the last steps was to set the actor up with an interview with a casting assistant.

While doing this he also got the actor, himself, and the entire cast of The Maltese Bodkin their first professional Actra job, by successfully bringing the idea of doing the play as a radio drama to a producer at local CKUA radio station, complete with stage sword fights. He was still just an actor at the time, but highly motivated to get independent things happening. This was the first of a couple of plays he was in being recorded and broadcast on Alberta radio through a connection with this producer, including the Phoenix Theatre production of Cold Comfort.

With the interview set up with casting, he stepped back and waited to see how it would all work out. The actor started getting roles on video and film projects in Edmonton, including just over a year later a supporting role on an Edmonton made for Television movie Rich And Strange. Another important step came when the agent for the young actor asked Bill to intervene and convince casting to give the actor an audition for a key role on Legends of the Fall with a Vancouver casting director, which he did. While not hired, he gained some considerable notice from that Vancouver casting director. Sometime after that, and two years after the first prediction by Mr. Davidson, the actor landed a role on the New York filmed soap opera, ‘One Life to Live”. He also, at the request of the agent for the actor at that time, wrote what the agent said the network lawyers thought was one of the best arguments to get the actor a work visa, not an easy thing for a Canadian without major credits. At this point it was pretty much mission accomplished for Bill’s objective and for all involved. Two years after saying out loud he could see that actor in a recurring role on an American series to a bit of perceived skepticism, it happened. And he was very proud and pleased to help it happen for the actor.

That young actor was Edmonton born NATHAN FILLION, and he went on after three years on that soap to recurring roles on Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the lead on the series and Feature Film Firefly, and most recently as the series lead on the ABC series Castle.

CHAD KROWCHUK – Actra (IMDB-link)

Shortly after becoming an agent, while at a casting director’s office taping kids he trained and represented for both a lead and principal child role on a Television movie shooting in Winnipeg and Vancouver called Hec’s Way Home, at the request of the main casting director who was out of town, he by chance happened on an actor who would be his next coaching project. Asked by the associate casting director Maria Orydzuk to tape a 12 year old CHAD KROWCHUK who had missed the casting session with her, he agreed to tape him while taping his own actors. After starting out the actor quickly became flustered while blanking on his lines. He seemed quite a good choice though, so when Mr. Davidson inquired what was the issue, he was told the young actor had just got the script that morning and hadn’t had time to learn it. So Bill let the young man practice by reading with the three girls he taped for one of the same scenes, then coached him on his acting and memory for that scene and taped him. For a second scene with some coaching and a clever positioning of the script it appeared he actually had his lines learnt when he didn’t. About a week later casting director Bette Chadwick called Mr. Davidson to say Chad was shortlisted for the lead role, and would he come in and coach him for a scene where the director wanted to see more emotion, along with another girl auditioning for a smaller role as his friend. Bill happily agreed to for a very modest small fee. After working with the pair as they read with each other in the scene carefully for over an hour and taping the audition a few times, Chad was called to meet the director in Winnipeg and hired for the role. His only previous roles had been a couple of small roles around the age of 4. From that lead role in a television Movie he went on to get the lead role in multiple seasons of the Edmonton based Family Chanel series the Mentors, and is now a working Vancouver actor with some 47 film and TV credits.

MARK GIBBON – Actra (IMDB-link)

Mark started acting in Edmonton after being involved in Football here. Mr. Davidson taught Marc first at the Other Agency’s Actors Studio, then after setting up his independent Courses, in one of his 50 hour, (equivalent of 2.5 of the current adult courses) Intermediate scene study and audition courses. Approximately a year after taking his training moved out to Vancouver and now has some 74 film and TV acting credits, including on X-Files, Outer Limits, Stargate SG-1, The 100 and many more.

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