Get to know who you’re working with — this makes everything flow better.
Don’t think that everyone is going to give it their all, some are just in it for something to do on the weekends.
Expect the unexpected. Stay open-minded, your vision of a character can be completely different than how it is perceived by the director.
I had the pleasure of interviewing J.R. Fortin, an award-winning filmmaker from Poland Maine. He resides in Lewiston Maine with his wife and five children Aleisha, Noah, Landon, Nikolai, Abigael and one on the way. He owns Maine Event Films and is the assistant store manager of a fortune 500 company where he leads teams to success. J.R. Fortin has his associates degree in Legal studies and started acting and modeling in 2016.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Poland, Maine. When I was young we lived in a trailer park until I was in the third grade, when we moved to a house with eighteen acres. I started working at twelve years old at a farm. Working on the farm is what helped shape my character for who I am today. I had the best parents you could ask for growing up and many positive role models around me. Changing the way people think is a big way of creating success. I had a teacher named Kirby Reardon who changed my perspective on life in the fifth grade. I went from hating school to doing everything I possibly could in it. He inspired you to push yourself to be the best version of yourself; go big or go home. Never settle for average.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up me and my best friend would make funny videos with his camcorder. We primarily did a funny talk show, The Herbert and Fil show. (And yes that is Fil with an F) I needed to do something different after doing retail jobs most of my life. I saw a post about a movie being filmed in New Hampshire and I decided to do something I never thought I would do, I auditioned. I found out that I got the role in Paper City Burnout and that began my passion for film. I discovered what made me happy and would forever be attracted to filmmaking!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I once paid for my whole family to be in Vermont because I was in a short film and I had learned a Russian accent. It was a time peace thriller and the wardrobe alone was amazing. The first day went well but slowly, I had really cool scenes with a stopwatch. The following day they literally had graves dug for some of the scenes with more props then I’ve ever seen on a film set to this day, three years later. The second day we were about to shoot and the generator went out and the director cancelled the whole shoot. I’ve never witnessed anything like that in my time doing this.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was doing audio on a set for a scene and forgot to hit the record button. I was just helping out and had never done audio before. Luckily the cast and crew were really good about it. It’s funny now but definitely wasn’t then. You live and you learn.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Very excited to be filming the third season of my show, Hearts of New England. I am super ecstatic about being in a Batman short, Batman: Riddle Me This, playing Catwoman’s father. I love bringing comic characters to life. In addition, I just found out I was cast in Spiderman and the Monsters of Manhattan, playing the role of Dennis Carradine. We have also started filming Captive and Co-Workers 2 which are just a few of the other productions I’m currently in.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
You always want to be open-minded and diverse, that’s how you keep viewers. It’s very important to stay current otherwise you’re last week’s news. The more diverse you can be will help you achieve a wider audience because more people can relate to your project.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Get to know who you’re working with — this makes everything flow better.
- Don’t think that everyone is going to give it their all, some are just in it for something to do on the weekends.
- Expect the unexpected. Stay open-minded, your vision of a character can be completely different than how it is perceived by the director.
- Always slate — it makes it way easier on the editor
- The most important one is there will be haters. This is something that I struggle with. Chris Evans had a speech that explains the struggles. It’s very hard to respond to, you have to overcome the mental stress haters can cause and turn it into motivation, don’t let anyone set you back. Remember that if you give up, they win — if you keep pushing, they lose and you can continue to inspire others, that’s why artists were put on this world to do.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Stop grinding and self reflect. Sometimes putting everything into a big role is more powerful than being in several smaller roles. Mental health is very important in this industry. When you value someone’s art, talk to them. On your brakes talk to your friends and acknowledge the ones who talk to you during your low times so when they hit a rut you can return the favor. If you take a break and not burn yourself out, support your friends. Remember your brakes are from acting, not your film family. If you need to stay busy be open-minded and willing to learn anything so you can further help a production. No one forgets the lead actors and actresses who wear more than one hat to get through a shoot.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would push the power of positivity. Don’t dwell on negatives and setbacks, just keep pushing forward. Most of the people hating on your art haven’t done any of their own or seen success. No matter what you do, stay humble and encourage everyone. To succeed a real artist works together not against one another.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Hands down, Chris Fyfe. Chris is always there for me on and off the film set. Growing up my uncle, Mike Paine, my father Donald Fortin, and my teacher Kirby Reardon had a huge impact on my childhood success and transition to adulthood. I also owe a huge thank you to the cast and crew of seventy-plus for continuing to learn with me and stick with me on Hearts of New England.
When it comes to the entertainment industry Chris Fyfe is a book of knowledge and I am blessed to call him my brother. There is no one I respect more in the film industry than him. If everyone had a heart the size of Chris the world would be a better place.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t be afraid of death, be afraid of the unlived life.” — Natalie Babbitt
For a long time I lived a sheltered life and if there’s anything this industry has taught me is to take chances, some of them only come around once!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Jessica Biel, hands down, for all the wrong reasons.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!