I had never acted on camera before, but I was a notable ham in high school drama class, and my teacher told me I was a good actor at prom (mind you, she was slightly intoxicated at the time, but I took it to heart), so I agreed.
Why not right?
So I soon found myself meeting Christian and the gang at a warehouse in the beginning of last winter...and I ended up having two of the most fun, action-packed days of my life!
Meeting The CrewI had already missed a scene that day (I’m not known for waking up very early), but Christian had told me as he was leading me to a handicap accessible rear entrance that the big action scene, I had thankfully not missed .
As I entered the area I had met the crew that was there filming that day. Yann Brouillette (who I previously met and interviewed along with Christian at Montreal Comic Con , he also plays Alpha Q ), Anderson Bradshaw (the show’s stunt coordinator and he also portrays the tough-talking urban vigilante, 8Ball), Michel Brouillette (co-creator and also portrays World War II super-soldier, Canadian Shield, and he is the brother of Yann too) as well as Marcello Bezina, a stunt man that was getting suited up in heavy-duty Zombot armor, and Dimitri Médard, the sound engineer.
After all introductions were made, I struck up an interesting conversation with Michel, who I was told would be taking part in the big fight scene against Marcello in all his Zombot glory.
Michel has scripted and layed out much of the H.O.N. universe with his brother, and we began talking a lot about Canadian Shield, his place in the series and what’s to come for the character.
I can’t really divulge what they told me, but let me say this: many interesting plot twists are ahead and things are going to surprise people!
The Brouillette brothers also divulged that Canadian Shield was not originally supposed to have any superhuman abilities, but along the way, they decided that it made sense in the story for him to have enhanced healing abilities and above average athletic and fighting skills.
I had assumed we Canadians had all of these abilities naturally to be honest. Hmmm...
Zombots Don’t CryWe soon were ready for the big fight scene. To say I was excited was an understatement (although I tried to not let it show), while they set up the scene the guys passed me a vintage WWII “Nazi” machine gun to hold.
So, as the mature adult I am, I immediately began to wave the thing around like Rambo would (which was unusually heavy, but whatever!! Figured it was all for the realism), until Andrew walked by and informed me that it is a completely real gun (although not loaded and fixed to not harm anyone) and I’m not allowed to be waving it around and pointing it at people on the off-chance that it may go off.
Holeeee crap...okay, real firearm in my hands. Sort of scary, but it’s not like I put it down. In fact the guys gave me a matching Zombot helmet to put on and we took a picture. Because it’s not every day you get to do such things.
Soon enough, the scene began to film, and I got to see what these guys could do. The scene involved Andy (playing 8Ball’s grandfather and Canadian Shield’s teammate in WW2 at this point) barely holding his own against the Zombot until C.S. comes to the rescue, guns blazing, the two manage to overpower the creature and put it down for the count.
For those who may not know...a Zombot is a cybernetic reanimated corpse created by the evil Nazi scientist, Josef Mengele...of course. How could you not know that?!
I was quite impressed at the action, in fact, so much so that I was quiet as a church mouse. I was in awe, I suppose.
This turned out to be an ongoing theme the entire weekend.
The scene called for the Zombot to fall face-first, and at one point Marcello fell pretty hard and we all sort of were worried after “CUT!” was yelled. He came and took a seat beside me for a breather and pulled off his helmet and mask. He was sporting a pretty mean mark on his forehead.
Like a true bad-assed stuntman, he proclaimed “This is nothing”, and soon went back in to finish shooting.
I’ve always looked up to stuntmen for what they do day in and day out, putting their necks on the line and all that.
Not sure if I could be that kind of tough. I fight tears if I get a papercut!
After that scene had wrapped we went to another area of the complex and filmed the last few shots of the episode, which saw Canadian Shield and Andy’s character escape from capture. I got to see how green screen can be plenty useful for certain scenes.
It was quite a great thing to watch. But as fun as this day was, it was nothing compared to the entire day of shooting I was going to witness on the following day, not to mention filming my big cameo!
Suite-ning the DealI arrived at the gorgeous Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal in the early afternoon on the following day and when I found my way to the penthouse suite that the H.O.N. crew had rented out for the day, I was simply shocked at the size of this room (So much so that I had to take some pictures).
I could see why they chose this room for the shoot. The place was so huge that it was like 7 different locales in one!
I’m not kidding...all I could think of when I saw this place was “this room could tell stories”.
Before long, the crew for the day began to arrive and while most of the players from the previous day were there, I met a new stuntman by the name of Donald Caron.
I also found out later that Donald is also the awesome artist that has designed some of the amazing artwork and covers for the Heroes of the North online comics. Andy Bradshaw soon joined in and we began to chat quite a bit about art, comics and so on, until a striking young woman in tight laytex walked into the room and began shining her outfit with some sort of spray.
No offense to Don and Andy, but my attention was understandably redirected.
I soon recognized her as the actress that plays Masquerade in H.O.N. , Pia Metni. I was introduced to her and Christian suggested I interview Pia while they set up the scene.
So, we went into the ridiculously lavish dining area of the room and we soon got down to business. The interview, that is. (What else would I mean?! Shame on you.)
Un-Masking Pia MetniFPB: So Masquerade is sort of this model-by-day, mercenary-by-night type of character. It’s all very cool. How did you come across this role and become part of Heroes of the North?
Pia: Well, I was part of an agency and was called in to audition and got the part that way! These guys are really just so fun and great people. They’re really helpful and back you up when you’re reading for them.
Have you been acting for awhile?
I’ve actually been acting and modelling since I was 8! I went and did theater classes just to, y’know, get more confidence in the different roles I may encounter. I eventually came back to it, I met these guys, and here I am!
So, this is your first time doing the whole action thing?
Did you have to go for gun training or any of that?
I've already had experience shooting guns at shooting ranges and I've always been quite close to that, for multiple reasons. But the boys here are so well trained and have military experience, so they’ve given me a good foundation for training right here on set.
But yeah, I’m definitely no stranger to handling a gun! (laughs)
That’s awesome that you already had some experience in that area! What about martial arts? Have you done any of that training since doing this, or before?
I have really no martial arts training prior to this, but I’ve always been very active in sports. And I’m naturally very flexible. I was into gymnastics when I was younger, so all of these things help us achieve what we need to on set.
So, they choreograph you on the spot?
Yeah! I’ve worked with them on a few episodes now, so I sort of know what to expect a bit, but it also gives you free range of motion in your movements when they do it like that. So they just tell you “okay, this is where we’re going” and you sort of take it wherever you want.
Do you plan on doing a lot more of these kinds of projects?
(Laughs) Yes, I enjoy this VERY much. So as long as these doors continue to open, then I would say yes, definitely.
I’ve had a great opportunity to work with these guys, because you don’t often get to chance to work on a small production with a small budget, and get to do these sorts of things! Stuff blowing up, fight scenes, cool costumes... the whole combination of everything on Heroes of the North is so worth it for actors in Montreal. There’s not this type of work around every corner, there’s just not. So this is a HUGE privilege!
And more than anything, it’s so much fun! I mean, I’ve become friends with these guys, now!
I have noticed that Masquerade has some similarities to Trinity from the Matrix, Lara Croft, characters like that...is there someone that you’re sort of looking at in superhero films or comics as inspiration for this character?
Nobody specifically, but of course I’ve seen all of these movies like The Matrix and Resident Evil and of course, I’ve always gotten inspiration from the female roles in those films.
I don’t know where that comes from!
(I think we can all agree that James Bond could NEVER look that good in a laytex bodysuit)
Masquerade really does straddle the fence, doesn’t she? She’s not really a villain, she’s not really a hero...she’s in that gray area.
Oh yeah! When they offered me the role, I was like...(she lets out this cute, excited squeal)!!! This is what we all want to be like in our lives!
I really identified with this girl, she has a normal life during the day and at night she’s this dangerous character.
Yeah, I guess everybody would love to be like that in their lives.
What are some of your favorite action movies or heroes? You seem to be a bit into that sort of stuff
I watch a lot of different things...I’m very open to everything. I love independent movies, and y’know, the kinds of movies I love the most are the ones that when you turn off your TV at the end, they raise questions.
They make you stand up and want to get up and do something about the world. Movies like Taken, or films that deal with the sex slave trade...those movies really get me going!!!
They make you wanna go “Masquerade” on them!
HAHAHAHA!! That’s hilarious!!
No seriously, I would love to one day have something to do with a production dealing with that. Women’s rights is something I feel strongly about.
I’ve never really been a big comic book person. But now, the more I’ve gotten into this, the more I’m realizing that all of the superhero movies are based on comic books. I’ve never read them, I was more into sports when I was younger.
But maybe I should!
Well, I think you’re doing great as Masquerade anyway.
(laughs) You’ve definitely piqued my curiosity, so I may go out and try to find a comic that’ll interest me...
Come out to the eXpertComics store sometime! We’ll hook you up with anything you need!
(BIG laugh) PLUG!
What comics do you think I would enjoy?
Well, I definitely think you would like Black Widow. Catwoman is another one that is very similar to Masquerade, and she also cares a great deal about women’s issues...Wonder Woman, of course, has always been a strong, badass female character, like yours. Of course you have all the X-Men characters like Storm and Rogue...that’s always been my personal favorite franchise.
Basically, there are so many great characters and books to choose from and that you’d get a lot out of!
Hey, as far as acting is concerned, I’m going to film my little cameo soon...do you have any tips for me?
It’s just two lines. So...
It’s not really about the amount of lines! One of my favorite teachers would say that sometimes the silent roles were the most difficult ones, because even if you don’t have any lines, you have so much more to say with your presence. So it’s not like having two lines doesn’t mean anything.
More than anything, I’d say just live in the moment! (She gives me a big smile) Just forget about the storyline, and just live in the reality of it!
Okay, well I’ll just try to do my best out there.
Hahaha! I’m not worried, you’ll do great!
We were soon called for the filming of the first scene for the day, which featured Masquerade battling two agents of Medusa in her hotel room (the bedroom of the hotel room was literally the size of most hotel rooms, I ain’t joking!).
Hotel Room Brawl (part 1)The room wasn’t huge for all the guys that had to pack into there, but I found a nice little spot next to Dimitri and I got ready to watch the action!
The scene begins with Masquerade coming back to her room, put her gun under her pillow and go into the bathroom for a shower, it seems.
Pia is supposed to go for her gun under the pillow, but it is knocked out of her hand.
After one of the takes though, that handgun totally flew at me. Not something I’m used to, but it comes with the territory on superhero film sets, I suppose.
Although Pia was a bit concerned. “oh gosh, you okay? Didn’t hit you that time, did I?” she asked.
“nah, all good!” I bravely answered.
It’s not like I wanted to look like a wuss or anything, but I was totally “holy crap! Probably real gun flying at me!!!” in my head.
My fear was soon resolved though, Andy was showing me how to “shoot” the gun in-between takes. Which was pretty freaking awesome of him.
I’m not joining the NRA anytime soon, but I do understand the feeling of power behind the things. Just being honest.
When that bit was filmed, I was told it was time to shoot my big scene! I wasn’t as nervous as some may think.
This was it, time to make my slightly tipsy drama teacher proud!
My Big Acting DebutOkay, so the scene involved my character, Wheelchair Guy (the biggest acting stretch of my life), knocking on Masquerade’s hotel room door and asking what all the commotion is about.
The door opens in front of me and well, you’ll see the rest. (I ain't gonna spoil my own episode!)
I will say that in the first take I completely flubbed my lines like a complete noob.
But after a few takes, and remembering Pia’s advice of “living in the moment”, I totally nailed it... I think. Christian and the guys seemed to be quite happy with my performance!
8Ball OriginsAfter my scene and the guys were setting up for the next one, Andy Bradshaw began showing me some concept art he designed for some of the characters, like 8Ball and The Canadian (who was originally masked-less!).
Andy’s military background gives him the knowledge of how a superhero’s costume should be made for it to be efficient, and it shows in his detailed designs.
It was super cool of him to share these with me!
After another great scene was filmed featuring Masquerade’s meeting with a Govt. agent by the name of Donovan Easton, played by a great actor by the name of Howard Rosenstein, I had noticed some new faces had begun to file into the suite.
One of them was this young girl decked out in a red & blue molded rubber uniform (which had muscles molded into it that reminded me a whole lot of Michael Keaton’s Batman costume. So awesome.) , I recognized her as one of the Heroes we had not seen yet in an episode that goes by the name of Acadia, she introduced herself to me as Christina Sciortino.
We had a bit of downtime before the next scene, so I asked Christina for a quick sitdown interview. She agreed and here it is!
The Other Invisible WomanFPB: So, your character is Acadia...can you give us a little bit of background to your character?
Christina: Well, we don’t know too much about her just yet ..just that she’s from New Brunswick and she has an invisibility suit. I know it looks bad, she’s my character! But not much has been revealed yet!
I actually only shot one scene like a year ago, but things have changed, they’ve changed the suit a little so we’re reshooting that for continuity. It seems the script is the same, but my experience doesn’t go too far with being Acadia, it’s only my second shoot.
* Keep in mind that this interview was made late last year, so it was conducted wayyy before Acadia’s origin was revealed in comic form on the Heroes of the North website. You can check that out here. FOR FREE!!! Ain’t we Canadians generous folks?
So, how did you come in contact with these guys and get this part?
Well, I know Constantine, he plays one of the evil badguys (It’s Mengele, to be exact. He’s the Medusa organization’s equivalent to Cobra Commander...I meet him in great detail later in the night!).
I’ve known him through school and via networking, I heard about this project. I auditioned for another role, I forget which one, but Christian eventually called my agent and said “we think we have a role that could be good for Christina” and that’s how I became Acadia!
You said your costume used to be different, what did they change about it?
Well it was all “this thing” (she points to her molded bodysuit) and this was still my mask, but we didn’t really have the red laytex at the time so the (bottom part of the suit) was sort of like this red cotton jersey jumpsuit so the frame was sort of limited for her, because they couldn’t shoot the lower half of her!
So this is the first time you’re wearing this costume?
No, the first time I wore this exact costume was for the photos that are up on the website. But that was like, a year ago or something? My hair is longer now. (giggles)
Is this your first acting role?
What else have you done?
I’ve been in a couple of short films, some independent films...all fun stuff! I’ve done some commercials, I guess so far I’ve gotten pretty good work in the past 3 years I’ve been doing this. I’ve been pretty lucky...in Montreal it’s pretty limited. There’s not that much work for actors...but I’ve been fortunate.
How aware were you of the whole superhero genre? Were you a fan?
Honestly, I’ve never really been into the whole comic book thing, but my brother was SUCH a big fan of Batman and that sort of thing, so I’d end up watching the Batman cartoons and stuff.
I was so much more the girly-girl, so the superhero thing—I was never really into it.
But it’s really fun to get the chance to play one, though! (giggles)
You haven’t had the chance to see any action as Acadia yet, though!
No, I haven’t!!
Are you looking forward to that?
In the photo shoot they just kind of showed me how to put my arms and get the posing and the look down...y’know, just so I don’t look awkward. I soon realized that it’s a lot harder than it looks to be a superhero!
So, I’m looking forward to doing fighting scenes! I just really hope I don’t end up looking too awkward! But we’ll see! I know Andrew is a really good mentor and I’m in good hands.
What has inspired you that you can bring to the role of Acadia?
Well, I watched all of the previous Heroes of the North episodes, but I also pay much more attention to when I see comics and superheroes now! Have I done extensive research on this stuff? No, not really.
But I’ve been paying a lot more attention and going to see these superhero movies a lot more. I just want to get the feel and see what these superheroes look like and act like. I wanna get the whole vibe down!
Well, good luck with it and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Acadia (or maybe not!) in future episodes of H.O.N.!
I soon found out that Christina was the perfect choice for this spunky character when she filmed Acadia’s debut to the series, where she meets with Easton. She would flash me these cute little faces in between takes, which brought a smile to my face. It was clear to see that Christina was as perky as her character!
It also was pretty interesting to see this scene being filmed, since a lot of it involves Acadia using her invisibility suit to appear and disappear back and forth in a playful manner.
Since invisibility suits don’t actually exist (to my knowledge), the actors must resort to their imaginations and CGI effects in post. I now have a whole new appreciation for actors that need to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.
After sitting down with the whole crew and having a great meal of takeout St. Hubert’s BBQ chicken (those familiar with Quebec cuisine will know EXACTLY how tasty that is), it was time for the last leg of filming for the day.
Hotel Room Brawl (part 2)The next scene was back in “Masquerade’s hotel room”, where we are to film the scene that took place right before “Wheelchair Guy” comes to save the day, it was surreal to see Pia, who was now in full bloody makeup that made her look as though the poor girl had been beaten to a pulp for real!
Shout out to Michelle, the makeup artist, who did a great job on Pia’s makeup! It was frighteningly realistic.
The scene wasn’t a very long one to film, it really involved Masquerade doing her thing and shooting the last of the thugs.
While this scene was being filmed, I spotted none other than Marie-Claude Bourbonnais (for those that have forgotten, as if that’s even possible, she’s the blonde bombshell model/avid cosplayer who plays the villainous Hornet in the series...and my personal favorite interviewee in the universe) watching on. Her face lit up when she spotted me too and we exchanged a quick wave!
When the scene was done, Pia (sprawled on the bed in triumph) asked me with the coolest fake-bloody grin ever, “Do you have any more questions for me before I take off?”
Now, I probably could have come up with a bunch of great questions after seeing her “Masquerading” the crap out of Medusa goons all day, but I knew it was a long day of shooting (it was about 10 p.m. at this point, but time flew by sooo fast with all the awesome going on), so I replied with a “No, I think we’re good!” and let the impressive Ms. Metni wrap up her day.
Hanging with HornetAs the room was being cleaned out, Marie-Claude soon sat herself on the bed next to me and we began enthusiastically chatting, as we always do when we run into each other, about comics and cosplay! Her excitement about this stuff is kinetic, and it constantly shocks me how interested this girl is in this sort of thing.
She told me that she has constantly been asked to cosplay as Power Girl by her fans, and was in the process of figuring out which iteration of the character she should go for... she definitely thought that the Amanda Connor version was the way to go, but she asked me my eXpert opinion anyway.
I said that Connor’s version was indeed the definitive version of Power Girl, but I personally loved the Alex Ross version in Kingdom Come, although she was older in that series and Marie-Claude is practically a spitting image of the Connor Power Girl!
We also got to talking about our mutual love for J. Scott Campbell’s artwork, and she let me know it was her reading Danger Girl comics as a teenager that made her want to one day look like the heroines in that story.
I think she’s achieved that greatly! This is what dreams are made of, Bleederz. *sniff*
It’s always great to chat with Ms. Bourbonnais and she let me know that if she ever has any questions about one of her cosplay characters or anything related to comics, she will hit up The Bleeder King!
...Anytime, Marie-Claude. Anytime at all.
The Masterminds of MedusaThe final few scenes of the day involved a secret meeting between the evil mobster, Baxter (played by Ross Neil) and his right-hand man Steel Tiger (played by Anoutlith Sintaraphone) and the even MORE evil Medusa Commander/Mengele (Constantine Kourtidis) and Hornet.
I thoroughly enjoyed these scenes if not because Constantine is so completely hilarious and was in character the entire time he was in costume. You can see this guy loves playing this devious character.
Soon it was just about midnight and it was time for me to take my leave (Not many people know this, but I’ve been known to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight).
I thanked everyone for their kindness, especially Christian Viel, who is literally one of the nicest guys ever and a class act to invite me to into the world of Heroes of The North! I felt so welcome on this set and that entire weekend was an experience I will NEVER forget!
Hey! Those Bleederz that are going to the Montreal Comic Con this year, you can find out just how great these guys actually are for yourself! As they will have an even greater booth than last year, with many of the stars that I’ve mentioned in this piece appearing throughout the weekend!! So don’t be shy to stop by and get autographs from Canada’s own super team!!
Oh, I suppose you are wondering just how I did with my first web-series acting gig...well, you can watch it right now!
Episode 19: Falling Masks is right HERE!
Be sure to also take a gander at Episode 17, which features many of the scenes I've discussed in the column!
Who knows, Stan Lee just may have a challenger for his crown of “Best Cameo-er”!
That’s it for this week, gang! If you need me, I’ll be in my trailer on the phone with my agent.
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