Landyn Banx has been a busy guy over the last few years. He’s appeared in over 90 acting projects, helped start a production company, and he’s even been putting together his first music album! This month I had a chance to talk to Landyn about all the exciting things going on in his life and career.
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DM: Let’s start off the interview, as I always do, by having you introduce yourself and tell us all a little bit about yourself and your background.
LB: My name is Landyn Banx and I’m an independent film actor in MN. I have been acting professionally since 2007. In that time I have appeared in over 90 MN acting projects, both big and small, including feature, short, and student films, music videos, commercials, informercials, internet videos, and several webisode series. I am also one of the founding members of TRIWAR Pictures, along with Nicole Kruex and Warren Anderson. Aside from acting, I do some modeling and am currently working on a full lengh CD of my original songs as well.
DM: You acted in a few things as a kid, but in general you didn’t do much until way later. Tell us about the sort of "chance" way you got back into it and how your career took off from there.
LB: I was very shy growing up and only had some acting experience in a few elementary school plays. The first one was as a frog in "The Little Red Hen" in first grade. Then I played Bob Cratchit in "A Christmas Carol." I also won a book writing contest which helped to ignite the fire to entertain and create. I got my first "on camera experience" when I was in third grade and producers and directors from the ABC Home Show were at my house filming a segment to air on television after my childhood home was featured in "Country Home Magazine" back in 1988. I was riding my bike down the street toward the camera. That started something down inside that I wasn’t able to forget. However, I would forget it for many years during a quirky and awkward adolescence until 2006. It was then that I heard about Craigslist from a friend at work. I went home that night and found an ad looking for actors for a feature length horror film called "Tales of the Dead." I love horror movies so I jumped at the chance. I sent them a snap shot, told them I didn’t have a resume, and that I hadn’t acted in years but that I really wanted to audition for them and see what would happen from there. Haunted Autumn Productions responded to my inquiry within a day and I had my first audition in October of 2006 at the Caribou Coffee shop down the road from where I live. After the audition, they told me I had the part. I remember saying to them, "Can I think about it and let you know in a few days." Needless to say, I’ve never said that since. And the rest, as they say, "Is history!!"
DM: You’ve been in a rather large number of films in the last few years. Have you had any really challenging roles that really stretched your abilities as an actor? Also, have you had any roles that you found particularly difficult since you had a hard time identifying with the character?
LB: Yes!! There’s been several different characters that I’ve played. I am usually cast as the quirky offbeat best friend or sidekick, or the guy next door who seems to be normal but is actually crazy. I always try to look at the character and try to find something in him that I can relate to in my own life and then draw upon that to breathe life into the character. However, there are times when I have found it difficult to relate to the character. One instance was in a film called "Lust." I got the part of Devon and was told by the director that the character was very mean. I think that in the end I brought a different dynamic to the character than what the director was looking for but that was still true to the character himself. Then I played a gamer in "The Polyhedron." I had a hard time trying to relate to this character of Dexter since I am not a gamer in real life. It was difficult to do and I had to do lots of research online to find out what exactly was going on in the script. The upside to that shoot was that I got to film some of the scenes at the beautiful Lake Minnetonka in the summer.
DM: You were one of the founders of TRIWAR Pictures with Nicole Kruex and Warren Anderson. Tell us about TRIWAR and how it all came together.
LB: TRIWAR Pictures came together in early 2008. I had met actor Warren Anderson on the set of "The Perfect Victim" in 2007. Shortly after that we were cast together in "Lust." There we met actress Nicole Kruex. After being in several projects together in the next few months, the three of us formed a bond and decided to form TRIWAR Pictures. We shot our first short film called "The Pact: Hob’s Horn" in May of 2008 at the historic Mounds Theater in St. Paul, MN. I played Pete the bartender in that film, which is in post-production. TRIWAR Pictures also shot a short film called "Lemonade" in the fall of 2009, which is also in post-production. Keep an eye on TRIWAR because big things are happening with the company!!!
DM: Have you ever been injured, or had an otherwise scary experience that could have gotten you injured while shooting a film?
LB: There’s been several times when I’ve had some close calls on the set of some of the films I’ve done. One of the first that I can remember is when I was filming my fourth film called "Suzy’s Party." It was the last day of filming and we were shooting on the 16th floor of a high-rise apartment building in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. The cast of 7 or so were all jumping up and down on the bed for the ending dream sequence. I noticed that I was the one closest to the window. Then I looked out and realized the window was open and there was no screen on the window. I was scared and so glad when the director yelled cut and I had not fallen out of the window!!! I’m also glad no one pushed me out of the window too!! LOL!! The other time I had a close call was when I was filming "Hit Chicks." There were several close calls on this film. One involved fire. The other one involved running down several flights of 100 year old plus stairs with bird crap falling in my eyes, face, mouth, hair, etc. But the most dangerous scene was with me being on the ground in the middle of the road while a car was speeding towards me trying to run me over. After a few takes, the director wasn’t satisfied with the slow speed in which the car was approaching me and told the driver to "speed it up." The car came at me at about 25-30 mph then and when it was within 5 feet of me, the two actresses in the scene were to run in, grab me by the arms, then pull me to safety. That was one of the most intense nerve wracking scenes I’ve ever had to do and I often wonder why I subjected myself to that. Needless to say, it was a very hard shoot physically. The real work began after filming wrapped and we had to fight like hell to get the footage from the film makers. I was finally able to get my hands on the footage, which is in the process of being edited and should hopefully be released sometime down the road. I also had another scene in my first film "Tales of the Dead" in which I was banging my head so hard on the table that I was tied to that I had a huge bump on my head for several days after that. But I always try to remember that pain is temporary and film is forever. That’s what I was told the other day on the of "Masquerade" for my martini shot when I was doing a stunt!! I can’t say anymore about that though at the moment.
DM: What are your favorite film genres and what kinds of roles do you like to play in those kinds of films?
LB: I love horror films and comedies. I am a huge fan on the films of the Golden Age of Hollywood and love the classics. Mae West is my favorite actress of all time while Corey Haim is one of my favorite actors of all time. I am still devastated and heartbroken over his recent passing and I have been revisiting some of his old movies to make me feel better. I’ve never been his this hard by the death of a celebrity. I feel that I could relate to some of the quirky characters that he portrayed in his films since I myself am quirky. Such a sad end to a talented life. May he rest in peace and be remembered for the work he left behind, not his personal demons. The horror films I have been involved in have had me playing both the good guy and the bad guy. But I love to play the bad guy because it’s so much fun to explore the dark side of human nature and to give way to emotions that you cannot do in the real world otherwise you would be put behind bars for life and have the key thrown away on you. I also love comedies and love to make people laugh. When I get the chance to play a comedic part it is very cathartic for me and I enjoy it immensely. I always try to not take myself too seriously, especially in this business, and to always laugh at myself for the crazy things I do!!!
DM: What have been your best and worst experiences as an actor?
LB: I have had both good and bad experiences as an actor. The good experiences come when I have someone tell me that they were having a bad day and that they watched one of my films and that I was able to put a smile on their face and help them forget their troubles for awhile. That is what I like about being an actor. If I can move someone by one of my performances than I have done my job. It is also fun when people ask for autographs or to have their picture taken with me. I have even gotten fan mail from as far away as Croatia, which is flattering and takes awhile to get used to. On the flip side of things, acting can have a lot of downsides as well. It is hard to get a date. I have even had someone date me because I am an actor because they couldn’t wait to drop my name to someone. I was so appalled by that. The relationship went nowhere. Then you also have people who think that you are fair game to pick on just because you are in the entertainment industry. They make us lies about you and try to cut you down. But I don’t let them get to me. They are not worth me wasting my energy on and karma will get them in the end. I look at it like this. There are some people who will like what I have to offer as an actor. And there are some people who won’t like me at all. Then there are some who are in the middle and will have no opinion. But that is just the way it is. I’m not in this industry to please anyone besides myself. I am doing what I love to do the way I know how to do it. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
DM: Let’s move on now to the film you’ve just done with Jennifer Prettyman called "Masquerade." How did you first meet Jennifer, and how did it come about that you landed your role in this film?
LB: We actually just wrapped "Masquerade" a bit ago. It was a two month shoot and had so many different experiences, good and bad, all rolled into one. I first met Jennifer Prettyman at a photo shoot in March of 2009. We started talking about acting and she said she was in a film called "Summer School." I told her I had that movie. Then before you know it we were having our picture taken in the staircase of the old warehouse where the photo shoot was taking place. We quickly became FACEBOOK and MYSPACE friends and kept in touch regularly. We were both in "Camp Kill" (http://www.campkill.com) together, although we shot our scenes on different days. Then in October of 2009 Jennifer sent me a message saying that she was working on a film that she had written and that she was also going to be directing for the first time. She said that she had a role that I would be perfect for. She knew of me previously being married and that I had come out during my marriage so she knew I would be able to relate to the character of Adam. We had a four hour production meeting in November to write some of the dialog for the script and to talk about the message we wanted to get across with the film and where we wanted the characters to end up on their journey together. The story centers around two lonely strangers who meet at a bar and end up becoming friends through their tragedies. They form a bond and help to encourage one another to begin again. I was able to help cast several of the characters in the film with some dear actor friends of mine.
DM: Your character in the film is in a really bad situation. Tell us about the plot and how your character is involved in it, and also what it’s like to play a character like that.
LB: I don’t want to give away too much of the film. But here’s a bit of information on Adam, the character I play in "Masquerade." Adam has been married for two years to Connie. Things aren’t going the greatest because Adam is repressing his homosexual feelings. This puts him in between a rock and a hard place, especially since he grew up in a religious family. Adam tries to find his way though his predicament the best he knows how to do and soon finds he’s only happy when he is with a certain someone. I can relate to the character of Adam a lot because I have personally walked in his shoes in my own life. Being married for nearly three years, I was trying to hide my homosexual feelings. But it all came to an end when I realized that I could no longer hide from myself. I was able to begin anew after a divorce and a relocation to another town. That is what Adam wants. Although he doesn’t exactly know the right way to go about doing it.
DM: What were some of your notable experiences in making this film?
LB: I had many great experiences while making "Masquerade." I was able to be reunited onscreen with Jim Westcott and Janet Fogg, two dear actor friends of mine. I also had the opportunity to work for the first time with Jennifer Prettyman in scenes together so that was fun. And then we filmed at a breathtakingly beautiful mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. This is where I filmed my first scene for the film and I was in awe. It was such a beautiful place and I was so excited to be able to be there in the middle of it all. And I also had a love scene or two!!!
DM: What advice do you have for people who are looking to get started in the business? What kinds of things should they watch out for, and what can they do to improve their chances of getting good roles?
LB: I would tell anyone who wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry to be sure that this is what they want to do and to also have a back up plan and a regular job to fall back on to help them pay the bills until their career takes off, which may or may not happen. They are no doubt going to be living a crazy life and they will have to make a lot of sacrifices in order to get their name out there. They should also want to act for the art of acting and creating a character out of words on a piece of paper. If they get into acting for the money, they are going to be highly disappointed. It also takes time to create a name for themselves and to get good roles. It doesn’t happen over night. They may have to take lots of extra gigs or do some student films to get experience in front of the camera. Also nothing is ever guaranteed in this business. You can work for months on a project only to have that project never see the light of day. It is very disheartening and disappointing when that happens, but that’s the nature of the beast. They may want a part really bad only to find out that someone else got the part. They should also be aware that "NO" is a casting directors favorite word most of the time. I would advise people to be aware of those around them and to do research on those they are going to work with and to ask other experienced actors about certain people they have worked with and whether or not they had a good experience or a bad experience working with them. You also need to have a thick skin and not be affected negatively by criticism from others. Everyone thinks they know it all and will want to belittle you, be it jealousy or what not, when you start to make a name for yourself. Don’t let them get to know and use that negative energy and turn it into something positive to put into your career to take you further. They should try to find a mentor or someone they can trust to help steer them in the right direction. It is also a good idea to create a website to show off your talents. And use the free sites like FACEBOOK, TWITTER, MODEL MAYHEM, MYSPACE, ETC., to promote themselves and their work. Remember that no one is going to hand you your career. You have to go out their and work your butt off for it. Keep in mind that no one is going to care as much about you or your career and the development of that career as yourself.
DM: Who are some of your favorite people to work with both in front of and behind the camera?
LB: I have so many wonderful people that I enjoy working with both in front of and behind the camera. To name one I would have to name them all and I would not want anyone to feel left out shall I forget their name. If we have worked together over the years and still keep in touch after several years on a regular basis, chances are you’re on my favorites list. I have actually been very lucky so far. I have only had a handful of very bad experiences with people in the 90 plus projects that I’ve done.
DM: What are you working on currently and what do you have coming up in the near future?
LB: Well I just finished "Masquerade," which shot for two months, on and off. I also have an amazing film coming out in May of this year called "Faux," which is directed by Christopher Michael Beer of Falling Up Sky Pictures (http://www.fallingupsky.com). "Faux" has also been requested to play at a major New York Film Festival in June of this year and we’re all very excited about that. I have a photo shoot/music video shoot with Xris Frank of FurtherMore Productions coming up. I am also having an interview conducted by Lee Lauer in the next month or so about me and my acting. I am currently in pre-production on a music video for my first song that was released in October of 2009 called "Who Did You Call Baby Last Night." I have a few more shoots to finish up on the film "Night On Has Been Mountain," which features cameos by Ari Lehman (Jason from the original Friday The 13th) and Scream Queen Linnea Quigley. I’m also currently taking advanced acting classes through Cynthia Uhrich of In The Moment Acting Studio. She is awesome and I highly recommend her to any actor looking to up their game!!! I am also helping out with the first annual Out Twin Cities Film Festival, which is taking place on June 1st and June 2nd of this year at The Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN. They are still accepting submissions. Check out the website here for more information on how you can submit your film:
DM: You have talents other than acting as well. I know you’ve been working on getting a music CD together. Tell us about that, and also about your musical collaborator, Stephan Robberts, whose composing the music for you on some of the tracks.
LB: I’m so excited about putting together my first CD of original songs. I was inspired to do so by Heather Arneson. She was the director of my third film "Necessary Lubrication" (which is not a porn, sorry). LOL!! She has a band called The Lyre Effect (http://www.myspace.com/thelyreeffect). If you’ve not heard of them, check out their music. It’s very good!! I also appear in her music video for the song "Imperial Fortress" as a wounded soldier. The Lyre Effect is essentially poetry set to music. That is what I am trying to accomplish with my CD. I have been writing songs since 1998 and have penned between 200-300 in that time. Writing is such a great outlet for me and I love that I’m able to capture a moment in time with pen and paper. This spoken word CD is about taking 10 or so of those moments in time from my life and bringing them to life with the help of a pop techno beat, which I hope will make people want to dance, which I love to do. I would describe the music as spoken word pop dance techno music. What a mouthful that is. I have been blessed to be able to work with some amazingly talented composers on this CD thus far. Andrew Reilly, whom I met at a music video shoot in 2009, composed the music for my first song "Who Did You Call Baby Last Night," which recounts my New Years Eve 2004 break up in great detail. I am also working with Stephan Robberts (http://www.stephanrocks.com) on composing some music for a few songs on the CD. I met him at a premiere party for the show "Th3m" in December of 2009, in which he was in. He is a very talented musician/writer/actor. He also played Bryce in "Masquerade." I’m excited to be working with him on this project. Ian Carleton (http://www.myspace.com/ianhcarleton) is another talented composer working with me on this CD. He composed the music for my second song, which I just did a scratch vocal for the other day. Ian and I met on the set of "The Perfect Victim" in 2007. And I would not be able to do this CD without the help of my producer/arranger/co-writer Chris Durant, whom I met on the "The Show So Gay," (http://www.theshowsogay.com) in 2008. Chris has believed in me from the beginning and has been there by my side helping to ensure that my vision for my music comes true. Thanks so much Chris!! I appreciate everything you have done for me and cannot wait to work on these songs with you. I hope to at least have 10 songs on this CD, which I’m hoping will be released sometime in 2011. I am inspired by Amy Grant, whom I’ve been a fan of for as long as I can remember. I cannot wait to get her new CD, coming out on March 30th!!!!
DM: You’ve also done some modeling, and I notice that in addition to the more serious type of modeling, you’ve also done some really bizarre and artsy types of shots as well. Tell us about your modeling experiences, and also, who are some of your favorite photographers to work with.
LB: I have had over 25 professional photo shoots since 2008. I always hoped that the acting would segue into doing some modeling, and it eventually did. I love to do some outrageous photo shoots and try to always keep it fresh and interesting so you never see the same look twice. I prefer to do the bizarre, shocking, artsy pictures as compared to the mundane and boring. I’m also the only male model not afraid to put on lots of fun and outrageous make-up and to go out there and work it!! It’s always nice to have some different looks as an actor and to have different pictures to help in the promotion of my work. Some of my favorite photographers to work with are H. Morgen, Joel Jameson, Nicole Kruex, Andy Elliott, Kurt Schumacher, Jason Schumacher, Holly Kuchera, Geoff Kuchera, Tom Frisch, Ben Zvan, David Dettmann, Martin Hoffsten, Eric James, Dave Nicol, and many others. I have enjoyed bringing different looks to life through modeling and am always looking for more fun shoots to do!!
DM: As busy as you are and with so much going on, how do you manage to juggle everything while still maintaining any semblance of sanity? Do you still manage to find time for a personal life, hobbies, etc. or is your career eating up most of your time right now?
LB: Do I come off as sane? That’s not what my therapist says. LOL!! Just kidding. I don’t have a therapist. Right now my career is taking up a lot of my time. But I enjoy it. I couldn’t imagine not doing what I’m doing now. I wish that I had more time for a social life. Usually I hang out with friends in the entertainment business when I have social time, which is very rare. It’s usually at premieres or wrap party’s or script read throughs that we get together because we’re all so busy. I still love to enjoy the summer when it’s here in MN, which is short but I try to enjoy it as much as possible. I love to watch old horror movies and classic movies. I also enjoy writing, reading bios on old Hollywood starlets, and taking walks outside in the beautiful summer sun around the lake by where I live. I’m also single and still looking for Mr. Right, so if you’re out there, show yourself!!!!! I’m waiting for you!!!!!
DM: Is there anything else going on with you that you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?
LB: I would like to say that I’m very thankful and grateful to all of the wonderful genuine true friends and family that I have in my life that have loved me unconditionally and supported me over the last several years while I am pursing my dream. I would not have been able to do any of this without the love, support, and encouragement that I have received from these amazing people. They were there whether I did an exceptional job or fell flat on my face, which has happened a few times. I also have two feature films that I’m in that just received distribution this year. One is "Terror Overload," in which I play Edward, the guy with a secret in the "Dinner Date" segment. NFTS Productions (http://www.nftsproductions.com) is behind "Terror Overload." The second is "Why Am I In A Box?" from Silent-But-Deadly Productions (http://sbdproductions.com). I have a small role as a police officer in this film. I’m excited that some of the films I’m in are starting to get noticed and get distribution. It’s a good thing. I am always seeking out new film roles as well. If you would like to audition me or have me in your film, please get in touch with me via my contact page on my website at http://www.landynbanx.com/contact. You can also check out my demo reel at the following link: http://landynbanx.com/demo_reel. I have never been on a plane and I’m waiting to go on one when I book that first movie out of MN, which I hope will happen soon!!!!! The dream is coming true one day at a time and the best is yet to come so stay tuned!!!
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