An Interview with Georgie Daburas – By Emily Intravia

Born in Canada and raised in Greece, Georgie Daburas grew up with a love of cinema. As a young man, he returned to Canada and pursued work in the modeling industry, eventually discovering a passion for acting. Since graduating with honors from the full-time acting program at William Davis, Georgie has been acting in television, theater and films. He recently starred in Hitman 101, a 12-part web series now available for viewing at http://badguyfilms.com/hitman101.

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EI: Congratulations on your performance in Hitman 101 and its success in film festivals. How would you describe the audience reaction?

GB: First of all thank you for watching Hitman 101 and for your kind words in the review written about the series. Winning 9 awards at the LA Web Fest including being one of the top ten series at the festival was very rewarding and a nice way to help us feel the work we put in was worth it. In many ways though, I feel that we’ve yet to really fully reach our audience. The series is still unknown to so many, that our emphasis is now on us trying to get the word out we exist, and to convince viewers to watch the entire series so they can experience what we feel is a great story. Being interviewed about the series and my work helps in that – so thank you again! The audience we’ve been fortunate to get so far has been overwhelmingly positive. From YouTube comments to detailed emails from strangers, to meeting us in person, people seem to really appreciate our efforts. For me personally, attending the LA Web Fest, I had so many people come up to me and express their fondness to my work in the series and by the end of the weekend wherever I went I was known as "The Hitman". We also recently had the opportunity to have a booth at the Vancouver Fan Expo. Though small in number, we had fans! And they all loved the show and actually wanted autographs and pictures with me and the rest of the cast. That was special because it was one of the first times I’ve experienced something I was part of actually having an impact on people.

EI: Hitman 101 features a good deal of martial arts and fight choreography. What is the nature of your training in this area?

GB: To be honest… none. I am naturally athletic and love to challenge myself. Aside from that, I have always been a huge Jackie Chan fan and a lover of martial arts movies in general. When it came to the big fight scene in episode 2, we had a stunt coordinator who brought with him two stunt performers. Scott, the director, told him what we were going for and he helped us make it safe. The big wall kick is something I saw Anthony Pettis do in an MMA fight. I have a tendency to do crazy kicks and acrobatics at the drop of a hat, including that kick, so we made sure it was a part of the scene. In episode 6, Scott and I created the fight in his living room while watching Chris Lytle’s retirement fight in the UFC. We then went downstairs to the storage room at his apartment complex and with my scene partner Justin began rehearsing the action. Having watched some amazing fights before was a great way to have our energy up, but we rehearsed enough to make sure we could "fight" safely. Happy to report that we successfully made some fairly compelling fight scenes without any injury!

EI: Is there a different approach you take when working on a web series compared to a traditional film or television show?

GB: I don’t think so. At least for this project there wasn’t because we did still shoot it conventionally like as if it were a feature film. The story was complete from the get go, with only a few re-writes along the way. We shot the entire series over the period of approximately two months, almost everything was shot out of sequence, which was usually dictated by location and actor availability, then went to post production. My approach was to do as I was taught – do my homework! No matter what the project may be, my job is always to tell a story by living as truthfully as I can in the imaginary circumstances given by the script.

EI: In Hitman 101, your character is very much a ‘man of mystery,’ but since he’s also our hero and narrator, it’s important that the audience cares about him. How did you balance creating a sympathetic character without revealing too much about his identity?

GB: It was all on the page, waiting for me. Every time I read the script I would discover something new. So I kept reading it over and over again, until I knew the story well enough to allow it to be my own. But I believe that in the end it was the fusion of my homework and Scott’s directing that accomplished that balancing act.

EI: Your character spends a fair amount of time recording his own video diary. Do you have to think differently about your performance when speaking directly to a camera?

GB: That is a very good question. It was definitely difficult at first. A big part of our training as film actors is to be “camera aware” while ignoring its existence, i.e., never look into the camera. And there I am having to talk directly into a camera. At first it felt strange, but once I created the idea that the camera was another character in the scene, it became a lot easier. After that the only tricky part was holding it as far as possible from my face for extended periods of time so I could keep myself in frame. That’s right, I also had to be the camera operator because you could tell when someone else was holding the camera and it risked taking the audience out of the moment. I couldn’t use the LCD as reference because if I did I’d end up looking just off camera, so I had to do each scene blind so to speak. Of note, we actually had a really hard time shooting those scenes because the location was a basement suite and the sounds from the people upstairs came through the floor drastically. We ended up shooting the bulk of the scenes in the early morning before they woke up so their sounds wouldn’t ruin the takes. So in the scenes where I’m supposed to be tired, I actually am.

EI: You’re also credited in the stunts and sound department for Hitman 101, as well as being a producer. How do you juggle so many responsibilities with the emotional requirements for also acting in the lead role?

GB: I believe my acting teacher Chilton Crane, prepared me for that. On one of our class projects – a short film, every actor in the project had to participate in every way possible to get the film done. I have done set construction, props, sound, gaffer, best boy etc., so when it came to helping on the day when needed I was ready and capable. What most people don’t realize is Hitman 101 didn’t have a crew. It was essentially the director with the camera on his shoulder, a sound guy, a make up girl, and the cast. So we all chipped in when needed to make it. Because I was in over 85% of the series, I ended up helping out a lot. And because we were having fun, I often helped out on set on the days I wasn’t in the scene too. Scott jokes that the reason he gave me a producer credit was so he didn’t have to give me a over 100 credits for everything I did.

EI: Do you see yourself continuing to take on these responsibilities behind the camera?

GB: For sure… when necessary. As an actor my number one focus is my performance, what I bring to the character and the scene. Concentration and the ability to be in the moment are key and multi tasking does take away from that… but the end goal is to make a great movie, so, when it’s called upon me to help out I always will. Part of the exhilaration of the process is being part of the team, the on set camaraderie. I doubt even when I do shows where I can just be an actor I won’t be huddled away in a trailer. I’ll be on set soaking up every moment.

EI: According to your IMDB biography, you grew up in Greece and learned English primarily through watching English language films. Did that help encourage your passion for acting?

GB: Definitely. My family owned a video rental store and we all watched an insane amount of movies every week. For my parents, they watched partly so they could recommend movies to our customers according to their taste. For me it was a wonderful escape, a land of imagination and possibility. Like most people my life has taken many twists and turns. One turn lead to an intro to acting class and made me realize what my passion was in life, which was rooted in my love of watching cinema.

EI: In your experience, how does the film, web, and television industry of Canada differ from that in Greece?

GB: Not sure I can accurately answer that question as I’ve only worked in the industry in Canada.

EI: Can you tell us about any current and future projects you’re working on?

GB: I consider myself a student of the art of acting, so I am constantly going out for all types of roles, anything to challenge myself and continue my growth so to speak. Currently I am in 4 short films that are in post production, play the lead in a concept trailer for a published book being turned into a feature film, play a principal role in a feature film which we’re shooting this week and I will be playing one of the leads in a feature film being shot later this summer. As one of our Hitman 101 episode titles suggests – No rest for the wicked. 🙂