Balancing homework and a social life are the top priorities of any young teen. Now throw in acting auditions and casting callbacks and that’s a little more what middleschool is like for Octavian Kaul.
Kaul, 13, is in Grade 8 at North Saanich Middle School. He is also a budding actor.
“I think my attendance record for for the report card we got earlier was I’ve missed like 40 days of school in the last couple terms,” says Kaul, who stole a moment between classes to sit down with the PNR on school campus. ” I miss a lot of school. Every week or two there’s another audition that requires me to miss a day or two.”
This acting career of Kaul’s was in the making long before he ever had his first audition. Kaul remembers a video camera his dad had won at a work event, when Kaul was a little older than six.
“I messed around with it with my friend at the time. We would go bowling and just kind of film ourselves. That’s just kind of how I started and have just loved it ever since.”
Originally into being behind the camera, Kaul decided the easiest way to be on set and be around real filmmakers was through acting. His first break was in 2014 when he was cast as the lead in the Rollin’ music video for the Vancouver Island Band Current Swell. His next role was in 2016 as Arnie in the shortfilm Strawman, for which he won Best Supporting Actor at the UBC Persistence of Vision Film Festival. And that began the growing list of awards the accomplished young actor has been recognized for.
Currently Kaul is nominated for a Leo – an annual awards program for the British Columbia film and television industry – for Best Performance by a Male in a Short Drama for his role in The Cameraman, a film by Saanich-based writer and director Connor Gaston. Kaul played the role of a boy coming to grips with his father’s Huntington’s disease, alongside another young actor who played his brother.
“It was pretty intense. Dramas are definitely the most difficult thing to do as an actor,” Kaul says. “With comedy and horror – I probably shouldn’t be saying this – but there’s a lot of one-dimensional characters. Oh, you have the funny guy, you have the one who’s more serious; they play off each other. But with dramas, the character is not just feeling happy or feeling angry; they’re feeling angry, scared, so many different emotions at the same time and you have to somehow just act that way. The Cameraman was definitely the most difficult thing I had to do.”
Despite dramas being difficult, Kaul admits he doesn’t have any real acting methods or techniques yet, other than for memorizing lines; he just repeats them over and over to himself until they stick. He also took acting classes for a couple of years. It’s this combination of dedication and previous work that landed him a role in Season 2 of the Netflix series Haters Back Off, starring Colleen Ballinger – most people know her as Miranda Sings, a YouTube star with over seven million subscribers. With filming taking place in Vancouver, this upcoming role means more missed school for Kaul.
“With most schools I wouldn’t be able to miss school and do what I’m doing to the extent that I’ve done it. The school is very supportive and I am very appreciative of that,” he says.
And although Kaul has been landing a lot more auditions and roles, he hasn’t forgotten about his first love of filmmaking. Just recently he released a shortfilm he made in drama class called Trouble. Kaul says it’s about a kid who is hunted down by a mysterious killer; his best friend at school plays the lead.
It’s projects like this Kaul is actually able to work with people his own age. He says when he’s on set there’s mainly adults around, something he doesn’t necessarily mind.
“It’s fun, honestly. It’s pretty great. When you have other people your age around it’s also fun because you get to relate to them more, but it’s lots of fun because adults have better stories to tell, especially actors. So it’s fun talking to them and hearing about that.”
Down the road in his career Kaul says he hopes to get into filmmaking more seriously, but for now, he is happy with acting.
“Acting is lots of fun because you get to be on set and be involved with everything without actually having to do the hardest part of filmmaking – directing.”