Dakota Daulby admits his first foray into acting was a tad selfish, not a lofty thespian pursuit.
“When I was young, I didn’t really have many friends and was a bit of a loner. I went into the film industry thinking girls would like me and I’d become popular,” says Daulby, with a laugh.
That may he been his goal at 14, but almost six years later, Daulby is taking his craft seriously, with a focus that’s reaping a ton of success.
Since his first break in the award-winning short film Why Does God Hate Me?, Dolby has gone on to star several features including The Woodcarver, beside John Ratzenburger, and snagged a recurring role as a villain on the fourth season of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi series Falling Skies.
This week, he is the only actor to feature in two films debuting at the Vancouver International Film Festival – Black Fly by director Jason Bourque and Sitting on the Edge of Marlene by Leo Award-winning director Ana Valine.
The characters Daulby plays show his versatility as an actor.
As Jake in the taut thriller Black Fly, Daulby tried to embody a teen who has experienced everything at a young age.
“He is just 16 but has been through so much trauma and experienced so much of the world, he is like an open wound,” Daulby says.
Inspired by a true events, Black Fly tells the story of Jake and Noel to estranged brothers who reconnect after years apart.
In time, it’s filial loyalty versus conventional morality as Noel’s psychopathic tendencies propel them all into a nail-biting nightmare that calls into question the value of “the ties that bind.”
“Jake is trying to have a family that he never had,” explains Daulby.
“He is hoping to have that with his brother and his girlfriend. It’s naive but it’s his hope and dream. That’s the reason he does everything he does and that’s why he has such a hard time going against his brother. He just wants that hope to become a reality.”
To get into character, Daulby had the help of his fellow actors – Noel, played by Matthew MacCaull and his on-screen girlfriend Paula, played by Christie Burke, who also features in Falling Skies.
The trio ran lines while scene were been set up and met everyday after filming ended.
“It was kind of cool to sit down with these actors and live in these characters,” says Daulby. He also listened to classic rock from that era to get into a certain frame of mind.
“A lot of that rock is not so explosive – it’s more about finding love and being loved so that was quite fitting for [Jake],” says Daulby.
For Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, Daulby needed to shed Jake’s experiences and turn into someone who was exactly the opposite.
He plays the good guy Drew who tried to help teenager Sammie Bell away from her life of crime and con artist mother.
“He is young and naive,” says Daulby of Drew.
“His parents are extremely religious and he is extremely religious and he’s been sheltered. He is going into it with the mentality that everything is flowers and rainbows. He learns a lot of about the world – that not everybody is saveable or wants to be saved.”
When placed side by side, Dolby can’t say which character he relates to more.
“That’s a funny question because you get so involved with your characters – it’s like having two kids,” he adds.
“It’s hard to choose. I put so much energy and time and vulnerability into them that they become part of you. As an actor, I don’t try to play something else. I try to be myself but step into the circumstances of the character.”
• Black Fly screened at VIFF Sept. 27 and Sept. 30. For more screenings, visit jasonbourque.ca.
Jake (Dakota Daulby, Falling Skies) and Noel (Matthew MacCaull, Vendetta) are estranged brothers haunted by a troubled past. In the years since their father died in a hunting accident and their mother committed suicide, they’ve lost touch with one another. After escaping from his abusive uncle, Jake seeks refuge with Noel who now lives with his girlfriend Paula (Christie Burke, Falling Skies) in the old family farmhouse. Located on an isolated island, it’s the perfect place to find solace and reconnect after years of separation. Or so Jake thinks…
Soon after his arrival, Jake realizes that his older brother has become a hard drinker with an explosive temper. As paranoia sinks its poisonous fangs into Jake, the days start to unfold with creeping unease. In time, it’s filial loyalty versus conventional morality as Noel’s psychopathic tendencies propel them all into a nail-biting nightmare that calls into question the value of “the ties that bind.” Will Jake be strong enough to stop his brother’s terrifying rampage? In director Jason Bourque’s thriller, blood is indeed thicker than water. And it’s messy as hell.
• Sitting On The Edge of Marlene screen tonight, Wed. Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rio and Friday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. at International Village.
While waiting for her father to get out of prison, clean-living (but experienced) 14-year-old Sammie (Paloma Kwiatkowski) helps make ends meet by joining her pill-popping mother, Marlene (Suzanne Clément), in the family con business. Callum Keith Rennie is featured as Fast Freddy, Marlene’s cohort in pulling off lucrative grifts. As the story progresses over two years, Sammie takes much more control of her life and her relationship with her mother, whose emotional maturity is stymied by her substance abuse. Sammie has little choice but to grow into the role of responsible adult but her morbid obsession with death, particularly her own, casts a dark shadow over her self-discovery.
This adaptation of the Billie Livingston novella (The Trouble with Marlene) takes viewers on a bittersweet, emotional journey that navigates either side of the law and morality, leading us through dysfunction, love and addiction towards a kind of deliverance for this compelling mother and daughter. The soundscape is dark and edgy, enhancing the dizzying downward spiral of the story.