By BRUCE DENNILL
Chantelle Barry is making a name for herself with her new film, Me & My Left Brain. The romantic comedy follows ‘Arthur’ (Alex Lykos) who suffers from OCD, as he navigates his relationship with the gorgeous ‘Helen’ (Barry) unsure of where he stands with her. Are they friends? More than friends? Or potentially more than friends? The film was shot in Australia and garnered Barry an Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts “Best Supporting Actress” Award, and the film a “Best Feature Film” Award at the European Cinematography Awards. The film is scheduled for a worldwide release on Amazon later this year.
Can you distil what it is that you love about film or television acting particularly – over other types of performance such as theatre?
I love theatre and that’s where I got my start in acting training. However, what I love about film and TV acting is the groundedness of it. It’s similar to voice acting – it truly is about the thought process and not really relying on large facial gestures or physical movement to communicate effectively.
Are there aspects of the craft of acting that are different in front of a camera than when performing for a live audience?
For sure, there are definitely some things about theatre acting that I miss. It’s rare that a project will shoot in chronological order, so the feeling of growing with the character that I get when I do plays is reached in a different, less organic way on film. Another example is not being able to perform a scene in its entirety from top to bottom due to cutting for a different camera angle or set-up. I thrive on being in the moment, so when that moment is constantly interrupted for technical reasons, the craft for me also becomes more technical. That said, I still do the same work, research, rehearsals are character development for an on-camera role as I do for live theatre.
Film and television can involve an enormously lengthy creative process, with months or even years passing between coming on board via auditions and the premiere of the piece. What’s that like emotionally as a performer – investing heavily in something and then having to wait?
The wait used to bother me, because I was so used to live performance and getting that instant gratification and energy from a live audience, that once I wrapped a project it almost felt like something was missing. But the more I’ve grown, I find that the reward is in the work I do in the moment. So, at the point when I do get to see a finished product, it’s just a bonus.
How important is a message for you in terms of the types of stories you prefer to get involved with? Are you part activist (and if so, for what causes), do you want something that primarily presses artistic buttons, or is it a matter of simply working first and foremost? (Perhaps it’s a mixture of all three…).
It certainly is a combination. When I started out, any work for the sake of working was the priority – especially in terms of building credits and acquiring some on-camera experience. Now though, it’s more about crossing things off my acting bucket list. The themes and types of franchises I’d like to be associated with are more focused. Eventually, I would love to get into creating my own content for film and TV in terms of writing and producing, and that may include the pressing of certain artistic buttons.
What do you need from a director? Conversely, what won’t you put up with from a director?
I love working with hands-on directors who have a clear vision of what they want, are able to communicate effectively and treat me like a peer within the creative process. At the end of the day we’re all just human, so as long as I’m giving and receiving respect within the working relationship, I’m golden.
Does the way a film or show is distributed make a difference to you – the impact of the big screen and epic sound in a cinema versus a film or series being watched on a laptop or phone? Please answer as both a performer and a fan.
Art is art and with the expanse of modern technology and endless devices to watch on it’s only made art more accessible, both as a participant and a viewer. I will say that there are certain movies, like Star Wars, for example, that really lend themselves to watching in a cinema setting. However, I don’t feel that watching on a small screen compromises the integrity of the film necessarily – it’s more about having a heightened experience, and for me there’s always something nostalgic about sitting in a movie theatre.
In Me & My Left Brain, who is your character and why were they satisfying to play?
I play the main love interest, Helen. She’s virtuous, gracious, has great boundaries and is very relatable. I’ve played the villain a few times in my career now, and although it’s always fun to be dark and menacing and delve into the often very human intentions of an antagonist I loved portraying this real woman and being able to bring in a lot of my own perspective to the role.