January 2018

Gentle Temper


Artist/Band: Gentle Temper

Members: Ryan Meier, Marion Earley


Hometown: Boston, MA

Latest Album/Release: “Sleep It Off – The Live EP”

Check it out here and here.

Influences: Henry Jamison, Hozier, From Indian Lakes, Bahamas, Shakey Graves

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Meier: Ocean-folk with a blues tide.

TrunkSpace: Your debut EP, “Sleep It Off,” was released a few weeks ago. How did the process of putting together the EP alter or change the two of you? Did it force you to look at things differently or take a different approach at all?
Meier: To be honest, we put so much time into planning everything for this EP, if anything did change we haven’t really noticed. If nothing else, it opened our eyes to how many different directions something like this can go.

TrunkSpace: “Sleep It Off” is a live EP. Was it important for you to capture particular aspects of your live performance on the recording, and if so, how did you set out to achieve those goals?
Meier: The original goal was actually to do a fully live Audiotree-style EP – there’s something super honest and also flawed about a fully live performance like that. For various reasons we decided to make it more of a documentary style video, while still keeping the fully live takes of the songs. Neither of us had ever done something this raw prior to GT_. It’s sort of like a benchmark for where we’re starting from. We wanted people to get a little peek into who we are and what we do while still staying true to what our live shows are like. Our manager, Becca, organized the whole thing. We brought her the rough idea back in September, she found the perfect people for the task, and kept us all moving. We owe this whole thing to her for sure.

TrunkSpace: Was there a specific reason why you chose a live performance to be your first EP? Do you feel that the vibe of what you two create together is better suited for a stage than a recording studio?
Meier: Studios and stages are completely different animals. Some of our favorite artists are solo artists who stack and stack and stack in the studio until there ain’t no turning back, but still manage to produce raw and honest live performances of those same songs. A friend and mentor of ours had a solid piece of advice for us about recording: “You can get away with recording about 15 percent more than you can perform live.”

We love both atmospheres, really. With there only being two of us, we’re a bit limited in our live performance – it’s a challenge we’re taking head on and we’ve been having a lot of fun making as much noise as we can between the two of us. We just finished recording our first full length and we definitely had some fun playing around with the room we had to get creative in the studio, while still staying within that 15 percent.

TrunkSpace: How did the two of you first come together to form your creative partnership?
Meier: Marion and I had been going to school together for three years and the only words that had been said between the two of us were something along the lines of, “Hey, nice guitar..”. In our fourth year, we landed in the same ensemble. One day, Marion brought in “Those Shoes” by The Eagles – she’s a big fan of Joe Walsh. Before the semester ended Joe came to our school to give a talk. They sold out of tickets, but we snuck in anyway and listened to the man wax philosophical. We started hanging out, listening to music together, and it snowballed from there. We formed our duo in August 2016.

TrunkSpace: How has Gentle Temper changed the most since you two first started writing music together to where you are today?
Meier: When we started about a year and a half ago, we were one vocalist, and one vocalist/guitarist. Now we are one vocalist/bassist/percussionist, and one vocalist/guitarist/percussionist. We also just recently got haircuts.

TrunkSpace: What does your songwriting process look like? How do most Gentle Temper songs go from inception to completion?
Meier: We write in many different ways, it’s a pretty sporadic process. The first song we played together (“Heavy Handed”) I had written entirely and Marion added some very beautiful harmonies and later a bass line. We write poems, or parts of songs, or full songs separately and then bring them together. Sometimes we write entirely together. We’re really at the mercy of ourselves when it comes to writing.

TrunkSpace: You guys are Boston-based, which is a city rich in folk music history. Do you believe that a songwriter’s surroundings directly impact their art, and if so, how has Boston influenced you?
Meier: We definitely draw a lot from the current scene. Maybe not Boston’s folk history specifically, but by the way it’s formed everything that’s here now, we owe a lot to it. Our friends and family have lived and still live in Boston and they’re all involved in the music scene in one way or another. It’s hard to live in such a musically rich community and not be influenced by it.

TrunkSpace: Boston is also known for being a creative city filled with artists of all flavors. Does that creative vibe inspire your own internal creativity?
Meier: Absolutely. We are surrounded by amazing artists and friends who we admire. They make a variety of different styles of music and art and it’s immensely inspiring. The creativity flowing through this city is truly boundless.

TrunkSpace: Social media makes it possible to reach anybody anywhere these days, but at the same time, it seems more difficult than ever to get people engaged. How do the two of you approach getting the word out about Gentle Temper and to break through all of the surrounding noise that seems to inundate people on a daily basis?
Meier: Social media isn’t a very straight forward platform, I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt on all fronts. For us, honesty is the best policy and we do our best to stick by that and not take ourselves too seriously. In terms of getting the word out about GT_, this is our first big release and we’ve been doing our best to get it onto as many platforms as we can. We’ve also been releasing a couple of covers and plan to keep them rolling as long as we can.

TrunkSpace: As you look towards the future, where do you hope to see Gentle Temper go? What do you hope to accomplish together?
Meier: After putting out our first two releases late last year with Northeastern’s Green Line Records, we’re just trying to keep the momentum going. We’re currently working on a full length album that we finished recording in December at Red Bull Studios NYC with our friend and phenom Peter Geiser.

While we have a five year plan, it helps to also have a “tomorrow” plan and to just keep at it, get enough sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and enjoy all of it as it comes at us. We’d love to break into the festival circuit and start branching out from Boston toward Portland and further south, eventually stretching our musical limbs across the US to the west coast. We’re big on traveling and visiting family, so those are huge perks of becoming touring musicians as well.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Gentle Temper in 2018?
Meier: Lots more shows in and around the greater Boston area, our first full length studio album, a few more videos, and a couple of surprises along the way!

Sign up to our email list to keep up with all things GT_!

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The Featured Presentation

Johnathan Fernandez

Photo By: Rowan Daly

If comic delivery became weaponized, Johnathan Fernandez would be a lethal weapon. And if that’s a long way to go in order to make a connection between the series “Lethal Weapon” and the spot on timing of the former comedian-turned-actor, so be it. This writing thing is hard! (And we’re not the only ones who think so, as you’ll see below.)

Silliness aside, the Poconos-raised Fernandez has and continues to be a breath of fresh air every time he appears on the hit FOX series, currently in its second season. Aside from being the best dressed medical examiner ever to tag a toe, his character Scorsese is also an aspiring screenwriter who tries to strike an internal balance between the reality of his day job and the fiction he longs to tell through his scripts.

We recently sat down with Fernandez to discuss the episodic journey of a character, the first time he improvised with Damon Wayans, and why the series continues to work so well while other reboots fail.

TrunkSpace: You’ve portrayed Scorsese in about two dozen episodes of “Lethal Weapon” so far. From an acting standpoint, is this the longest you have ever spent with one character, and if so, how do you view that experience in terms of seeing a character grow over an extended period of time?
Fernandez: Yeah, it is the longest I’ve played a character for sure. It’s really interesting to see how it has evolved, because I think when you go into the first episode of doing any kind of character, you kind of feel like you have it all figured out, because you work hard to make sure that you’re ready for the first time the camera is on you for that character. It’s fascinating to then look at my work in the first season and think about all the things I would change, or, just how much more in tune I am with the character now.

I think most actors figure that out, or have that experience, when they move on to a second season of a show or a third season. You always feel like you’re doing great work, but then you’re also, obviously, trying to get better and better all the time. When you get to a second season, you’re like, “Oh man, okay, now I’ve figured this out, and I didn’t realize that I didn’t know this part about the character, and now it’s way more fluid.” You learn. Every episode you learn new stuff, because you’re always filling in the blanks and coloring in the lines, so it’s absolutely super intriguing to find yourself in that position of always evolving, regardless of how many times you’ve done the character or not.

TrunkSpace: And we would have to imagine that just seeing your character put in different circumstances, and how he reacts to those situations, helps fill in those blanks even further? For example, we could go to one party and feel completely comfortable, and then go to a different party with a different vibe and feel completely out of place.
Fernandez: Yeah, it’s almost hilarious how not different it is from that. It really is that situation, because it’s like, “Yeah, I know what his deal is…” but now that he’s actually on a ride along, or now that he’s been in a different part of the office for the first time, it gives you a lot of room to improvise and try out new stuff, because it is a completely different environment. How will he, Scorsese for instance, react in this scenario?

TrunkSpace: From that first moment you read the sides and learned who Scorsese was going to become, did he go through a lot of changes from then to when you ultimately took ownership of him on the first day of shooting?
Fernandez: Shockingly, not really. I remember almost being taken aback when I had the first table read, the very, very first one, which was also the first time I was meeting Matthew Miller, McG, and Damon (Wayans), and literally everybody else, I was meeting for the very first time that day. I remember when we sat down and read it, and once I stopped thinking about the fact that I was sitting between Kevin Rahm and Jordana Brewster, once I got over that, I was just performing and stuff. Then afterwards, I felt pretty good about it. I asked McG, and I asked Matt Miller, I was like, “What do you think? Where are you at?” I didn’t even know what questions to ask because I was just so overwhelmed with the whole situation. Miller was calm and was just like, “Yeah, do your thing. We hired you because we really like the things that you’re doing already, so just lean into that. Feel free to improvise.” And that was literally it.

When we went to the next table read, which was with all the bigwigs at Warner Bros. and FOX, I just did pretty much the same thing, but did improvise more. That got received really well, and it gave me an opportunity to play with Damon and Clayne (Crawford) a little bit at the table. That was honestly it. That cemented the whole thing.

We do have talks, Miller and I, about the character, and the future, and how the character will feel in certain situations – just to really fill in a lot of the areas that we haven’t really approached yet. Those are very helpful. But in terms of the baseline, we pretty much figured it out the first day, and that was it.

Photo By: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

TrunkSpace: We know that you have a sketch/improv background. Getting to riff with Damon, someone who really turned an entirely new generation onto the medium with his work on “In Living Color,” that had to be exciting?
Fernandez: Yeah. Actually there’s a scene in the morgue, in the pilot, and that scene was the first scene that was shot of the whole pilot. I didn’t have a chance to get to Los Angeles, do the first couple table reads, and just kind of sit around for a while and get myself hyped up for my scenes. I didn’t have that opportunity, because the day that we were starting, which was the day after the major table reads, was my first day, everybody’s first day – the first scene up. It was really crazy when we were trying to figure out the beats, how the lines in the dialogue were going to work out. There was some dead space, no pun intended, in the morgue, where I was pulling the body out, and there was just a lot of filler that we needed to figure out, because there were a lot of mechanics that we had to work around for the dialogue to work. McG had said, “Fill in the time with whatever. Feel free to improvise.”

The scene was where I got a call from Murtaugh and Riggs to say to be at the morgue. It’s undisclosed, but it’s either after hours, or my day off. So I’m coming in, and I don’t really want to be there. They make a joke saying, “Thanks for coming in on your off day,” or whatever, and I respond saying, “Oh, well anything to get out of writing, because writing is really hard.” That’s what the end of the dialogue was, until the body was pulled out, and then Damon improvises, “What’s your script about? Are you writing about your Afro?” I said, “Well, I’m not writing about yours.”

I remember thinking instantly, and just looking at his face, being like, “Oh crap, could I say that? Is this real life? I don’t know what’s happening right now.” Literally, UCB’s (Upright Citizens Brigade) whole mantra is just, don’t think. That’s the whole thing, don’t think. You already know your character. What would the person do next, and just improvise from a very real place. Obviously, immediately I was like, “Oh shit,” and then Damon’s face, I will never ever forget it in my entire life, because it was like, “Okay, we’re going to do this,” kind of thing.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) The green light!
Fernandez: Exactly! We ended up improvising a ton that first morning, and it really kind of set the tone for our relationship, and the relationship with Scorsese, Murtaugh, and Riggs.

Just having that levity, which is the entire show – that’s why the show is liked by so many people, because there’s a lot of different situations that you also have that banter, and have that fun, so it’s not always doom and gloom. Since then, we try to improvise as much as possible. It doesn’t always make the cut, because it doesn’t always make sense to make the cut, but it definitely was just like… man, being able to make a guy like Damon laugh, and standing toe to toe, it means everything.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, “Lethal Weapon” was one of your favorite films growing up. As a fan of the original, did you second guess if a series based on the movie would even work?
Fernandez: 100 percent. I’m a huge nerd and I consume a lot of different types of media. I know that if I was on the sidelines for this thing, seeing it get announced, I’d have been like, “There’s no way it’s going to be good. It’s impossible. It’s going to be the worst show of all time.” Especially just because reboots in general… most of them haven’t really worked.

TrunkSpace: And of course, there’s expectations to live up to when something is based on something else.
Fernandez: Totally. And if anybody was about to reboot something, the immediate advice I would give them is, you have to do your own thing. You have to. I talked about this with Clayne too, just to re-imagine his character, he likens it to theater. How many actors have played Hamlet? Just because you’re going to be Hamlet doesn’t mean that you’re going to do the same thing as the other guy. In fact, you’re going to try your hardest to not do the same thing that the previous guy did. But for some reason, when it gets to television, and things are being re-imagined, they try to do the same thing, and then obviously, it doesn’t work.

It was cool to read the script, and be like, “Oh wow, this is actually going to be pretty legit.” Then when I watched it, I was very, very pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. All of the actors in it are so great. The vision behind it, the groundwork laid by McG and the work that Matt Miller had done going into the pilot, was just so excellent – to make it really stand out, and not be just a regurgitation of the previous movies, even though we all love them, obviously.

We get it all the time now in social media and in reviews, just people saying, “I don’t think about the previous ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies at all when I watch the show,” which is probably the highest compliment that we could ever get.

TrunkSpace: What the show has done so well and so successfully is opening up and expanding the world. It feels like that is what makes you not focus on the films.
Fernandez: Right, and that’s what’s cool about television, is that in a film, you have a finite amount of time, even if you have several sequels, to tell one story. Television is literally the same characters in as many different situations as possible. If you have a baseline where the story is two cops in Los Angeles, working for the LAPD, solving crimes, you just have to show them dealing with different crimes. Crime, that’s not going anywhere. There’s going to be new kinds of crimes happening all the time, unfortunately. To just see how these detectives and the people around them would react in different situations is television, so it’s nice to completely bet everything on that and just say, “Hey, remember when you watched Riggs and Murtaugh explode a bunch of stuff, and say a bunch of funny things in the movies? Well, now you’re going to have an opportunity to see them do that every week.” If you are doing the job well, then it’s like, “Yeah, I want to keep on coming back and seeing what these guys are up to.”

Lethal Weapon” airs Tuesdays on FOX.

Feature image by: Rowan Daly

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Between The Sheets

Will von Bolton


In our ongoing feature Between the Sheets, TrunkSpace picks the imaginative brains of authors to break down what it takes to create the various worlds and characters they breathe life into via the tools of their trade… sheets of paper. While technology continues to advance and change the pop culture landscape, the written word has remained one of the most consistent and imaginative art forms.

This time out we’re chatting with music photographer and author Will von Bolton to discuss his new “585-word instruction manual” for the brain, “Loophole to Happiness,” why he set out to write the book in the first place, and how viewing photographs allows the observer to relive the human emotion captured within them.

TrunkSpace: Your book “Loophole to Happiness” was released January 1st. It seems like a great read for people looking to maintain their 2018 resolutions as they search for their new and improved selves. Was there any thought to releasing it at that time for that very reason?
Will von Bolton: The new year is a great time to reassess yourself and goes well with “Loophole to Happiness” … but the release date was just a coincidence.

TrunkSpace: For many people, happiness can sometimes feel like it only applies to others and not themselves. Parents especially can relate to this, because they’re spending so much time ensuring the happiness of others, they tend to neglect their own emotional well-being. How do we as humans balance our own happiness with that of our responsibilities… be they family, or work, or other?
Will von Bolton: When you nurture your own ‘happiness,’ it reflects on all you do and benefits those around you. There is a balance that everyone has to find.

TrunkSpace: You’ve called the book a “collection of thoughts” that then became an “operating system for your mind.” It is kind of funny to think that with almost everything in life, an instruction manual is included, but not with humans. We’re just expected to know how to function at each and every stage in life. Do you hope “Loophole to Happiness” sheds a bit of light on the “how to” for some who don’t know how to?
Will von Bolton: My thoughts exactly. I wanted to write all of the lessons that have helped me, my “philosophy,” in as few words as possible… for my future self, children I may eventually have, and to anyone with a few minutes to read. “Loophole to Happiness” really has become my brain’s 585-word instruction manual.

TrunkSpace: The book seems like it would be a great gift for a father or mother to pass on to their children because the advice that you’re giving is timeless and is not beholden to any one generation. As you were putting the book together, did you find yourself connecting to it personally in ways that you didn’t expect when setting out on the journey?
Will von Bolton: An interesting aspect of releasing the book is when people quote the book, on social media and in person, it feels like they’re telling me because I need to be reminded of that specific line.

I remember writing “Loophole to Happiness” and the stories behind each line, but it feels like it was channeled through me to me as I look back… it is a beautiful feeling.

TrunkSpace: How much of your work in photography inspired this book? Can you pinpoint a particular moment or shot where it all kind of came together and formed the vision?
Will von Bolton: Being a documentary photographer, you observe more than experience, and it gives you an omni perspective to really study human behavior. This unique perspective, shooting people all over the world reacting to music and celebrity… begs questions like why do people react this way, why do these people and this music mean so much to them?

TrunkSpace: When you’re looking back at photographs you have taken, do you see more within that frozen moment in time than you did while physically looking at it as it played out in front of you? Do photographs help people to sort of see behind the curtain of human emotion?
Will von Bolton: Yes, pictures looked at after time can reveal details or lessons you may have missed in real time. Photography does give you that “behind the curtain of life” perspective. When you look at a picture you smile, cry, laugh, mirroring its emotions… simulating the experience.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a writer?
Will von Bolton: I never thought of myself as a writer until people started calling me one. I just started writing all my thoughts when I was 25. Those thoughts evolved eight years later into “Loophole to Happiness.”

TrunkSpace: Regarding the process, is writing a labor of love for you or does it feel more like labor? Do you enjoy the process?
Will von Bolton: Writing is a labor of love and I don’t feel like I have much of a choice. Writing is my way of reverse engineering my own challenges. When I write down an idea it allows me to continue thinking. Until it is written, I get in a loop of repeating the idea for fear of forgetting.

TrunkSpace: And what does that process look like? What are the ideal conditions for putting in a good day of writing?
Will von Bolton: A big part of writing for me, is setting up a system to organize thoughts and capture them in real time. I’m most productive when I am alone. I love being anywhere I can sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, hike, watch documentaries, and write in between. My family has an incredible 1,500-acre ranch, the solitude and open spaces create a really inspiring environment to think.

TrunkSpace: Do you self-edit as you write?
Will von Bolton: With “Loophole to Happiness,” I was very deliberate with words, so I edited it along the way.

TrunkSpace: Where are you the hardest on yourself as a writer?
Will von Bolton: I’m not a speed writer. It takes me a while to really think about things and put them into words. One of the lines in “Loophole to Happiness” is “speed does not define intelligence” for this reason.

TrunkSpace: What are you working on now and what will people be able to check out next?
Will von Bolton: The “Loophole to Happiness” audiobook will be coming out soon online and on vinyl. It is an 18-minute audiobook voiced by me with a soundscape by my talented friend, Christopher Leigh. Also working on the next book, “Innerspace Development,” a rebranding of meditation.

“Loophole to Happiness” is available now.


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Listen Up

Speak Low If You Speak Love


It has been over five years since Ryan Scott Graham first released “Everything But What You Need,” the debut album from the multi-instrumentalist’s solo project, Speak Low If You Speak Love. (It was reissued by Pure Noise Records in 2015.) As the bassist and backing vocalist for State Champs, Graham is no stranger to juggling musical genres, but even he admits to experiencing nerves on the eve of releasing his solo sophomore, “Nearsighted,” which he describes as a “new direction.”

We sat down with Graham days before the release of the album to discuss the emotions attached to putting music out into the world, what listeners could be thinking in the year 3043, and why he doesn’t write while on the road.

TrunkSpace: As you gear up for releasing new material, what emotions do you wrestle with? Is it excitement? Are there nerves? Is it a combination of both?
Ryan Scott Graham: It’s absolutely a good combination of both. I haven’t released new Speak Low music in a few years, so it’s nerve wracking to see what the reception of the new direction is, but it’s also exciting because there’s nothing to really fear when you believe in the songs so much.

TrunkSpace: Is there a different feeling associated with releasing Speak Low If You Speak Love songs as opposed State Champs’ material? Is there more of you invested personally in the solo material just by the nature of how it all comes together?
Ryan Scott Graham: I’m deeply passionate about both bands, so it’s hard to compartmentalize the feeling associated with debuting new songs. Both are fun and exciting, but I guess Speak Low can feel slightly different because it’s more of an “all eyes on me” moment. If somebody doesn’t like the material it definitely feels a bit more personal than the group effort. That’s probably the biggest contrast.

TrunkSpace: The songs on the album were created by you, given life, and will now live on long after any of us are here. Do you view your songwriting as part of a legacy? Do you hope that people of, let’s say 3043, will have a sense of who Ryan Scott Graham was by listening to “Nearsighted?”
Ryan Scott Graham: I think the reason why putting new music into the world is scary in the first place is because it exists forever. In regards to “Nearsighted,” a goal of mine was to make a cohesive record that had some legs to stand the test of time. Will it? I guess we will have to wait and see, but I think records you can listen to from front to back are the ones that stay with listeners. I’m crossing my fingers I accomplished that. In 3043, if people are listening to Speak Low I think they’ll wonder why I’m such a crybaby. That is unless, of course, robots can feel emotions too.

TrunkSpace: When you first sat down to put together “Nearsighted,” what were your personal goals? Did you set out to achieve something specific with it from a creative standpoint that you feel you didn’t accomplish with your debut album?
Ryan Scott Graham: I suppose I wanted to be more deliberate overall. Not only with the lyrics, but the melodies and instrumentation to accompany. It’s not that I’m not proud of “Everything But What you Need,” because I am, but it feels like a different lifetime. I wrote those tracks without revisiting or rewriting a single note, which I’m sure some would argue gives the record its charm, but there was much more deliberate thought on the “Nearsighted” tracks. I wanted the flow of this record to be smoother. I wanted to capture a moment in time and feel timeless all at once.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Nearsighted?”
Ryan Scott Graham: I’m proud of the journey. I wanted to give up numerous times, because I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself. When I sat back and remembered why I was creating, everything began to come together. I needed to remind myself that I love what I do – and there will always be someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say.

TrunkSpace: Is it easy for you to transition from Speak Low If You Speak Love to State Champs and vice versa? Creatively do you have to compartmentalize the two or does the spark that fuels both stem from the same place?
Ryan Scott Graham: I think it all comes from the same place, truthfully. Yes, they’re different genres and I think maybe the project goals are different, but there’s nothing I love more than making music. Sometimes I write a riff that I think is fundamentally Speak Low and it ends up finding its way into a State Champs song. You really never know!

TrunkSpace: You’re obviously performing your songs in a live capacity, but when an album is complete, do you go back and listen to the recorded versions with any frequency?
Ryan Scott Graham: Of course! I don’t think of it as self gratuitous to listen to your own songs. I create things I enjoy and am proud of – you can be proud of yourself without being a jackass!

TrunkSpace: Are you a perfectionist when it comes to the recording process? Are you able to easily label a song complete, or do you labor away at them, tweaking and retweaking?
Ryan Scott Graham: As I mentioned earlier, “Everything But What You Need” was a record that came easily; “Nearsighted” was a completely different story. I rewrote, reworked and re-chorded multiple songs over the course of the making of the record. It was frustrating because you want the songs to make sense immediately, but that just isn’t the case every time. It makes it more special when they do click right away.

TrunkSpace: Could you ever see a day where music is not a major factor in your life? If so, would you still need a creative release/outlet?
Ryan Scott Graham: I have a lot of passions that I hope to pursue in the years ahead, but I can’t imagine a future without music. Whether that’s my career path or not, it’s hard to say. I’d love to teach English or literature abroad at some point.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to your career in music, did you have a mentor who took you under their wing? Do you see a time when you could be in that mentor role and helping to put another young musician on his/her path?
Ryan Scott Graham: I don’t know that I’ve had a “mentor” per se, but I’ve definitely had a handful of musicians that I looked up to growing up. I always tried to reflect specific pieces of their journey in my own without being a copy. As far as me being a mentor to someone, it’s certainly not out of the question. If I can influence someone in a positive and creative way, I’m doing something right. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing someone say that something you did made them want to try it out. You can’t fall in love with something without giving it a fair chance.

TrunkSpace: You have a big tour set to kick off soon. Are you someone who can write while out on the road or do you have to unplug creatively while out there on the highways and byways?
Ryan Scott Graham: I tend to unplug musically while I’m on the road. Obviously we’re playing the show and in the zone during the sets, but in regards to songwriting, I need to lock myself away if I’m going to get anything done. Being on the road is key for conversations, exploration and people. I’d rather pour myself into something other than music while I’m out here.

TrunkSpace: We’ve barely scratched the surface on 2018. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for yourself and if so, how are you doing sticking with them thus far?
Ryan Scott Graham: My resolution for 2018 was to develop a better pattern of time management, but I can honestly say that I have not been doing a great job of that. I love to stress myself out.

Nearsighted” is available now from Pure Noise Records.

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The Featured Presentation

Dr. Dustin Cohen

Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

As a general rule of thumb, if someone asks you if you want to speak with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s dentist, you say yes. Dr. Dustin Cohen, owner of The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental, is more than just a set of steady hands inside your mouth – he’s also a pop culture aficionado, a hardcore sneaker collector, and one hell of an interview.

We recently sat down with Dr. Cohen to discuss dental misconceptions, the reality of reality television, and if in fact liquor will make our teeth sicker.

TrunkSpace: You’re our first dentist featured at TrunkSpace. Can you promise us a pain free interview?
Dr. Cohen: That’s my specialty! But I am a dentist, so I hope I don’t bore you to death.

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, some people genuinely do have a deep-rooted fear for visiting the dentist. In your experience, where does that fear stem from? Do you feel like dentists get a bad wrap?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, the dental office definitely triggers a rise in blood pressure and stress for a lot of people. I think old school dentistry was pretty barbaric and scary. I don’t think their customer service experience, equipment, or use of numbing agents was up-to-par in the old days, then that fear gets passed down from one person to the next amongst family and friends. Those horror stories stick in peoples’ heads, causing anxiety that the same thing may happen to them. Now, the tools and technology are far more advanced, so it’s mainly just the sounds they make that cause the distress. But recently, we are seeing the introduction of laser-based tools which make for a far more comfortable patient experience, so there will be even less to fear. You can already find surgeries that offer laser dentistry minnesota way, so it’s well on its way to becoming fully integrated within the industry.

At our office, anyone who walks in feeling nervous, walks out questioning why they were nervous in the first place. We’re similar to Dentist New York City in that way. We are on a mission to make it unimaginable for anyone to go to a dental office other than ours. That means we do anything and everything possible to change the stereotype of the scary dental office.

TrunkSpace: What is your particular approach to making patients feel at ease when they step foot (and mouth) into your office?
Dr. Cohen: This would be what we call the Bespoke Dental Experience. This starts off with something that is incredibly unique amongst doctors & dentists… we start on-time! Seriously, who likes waiting for an hour before being seen? We start and end on-time, every time. We have a lot of very busy patients who don’t have time to be late, but it also helps to minimize the stress associated with waiting around worrying about what’s going to happen.

We also like to have you fill out our “personalize your visit” form. This lets us know if you want a pillow or blanket, maybe some water or some headphones… then we’ll have it ready for you when you come to the office! A comfortable patient is key to quick, easy, and painless procedures.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest misconception that people have about dentists and/or going in for dental work?
Dr. Cohen: Patients rarely recognize how precise dental work must be to feel, look, and function correctly. We work in fractions of a millimeter! A half of a millimeter can make all the difference between a perfect looking front tooth or a snaggle tooth. A filling that is a quarter of a millimeter too high can feel like you are biting on a rock! So sometimes people get upset if things take a bit longer to adjust than they anticipated or if they need to come back for a bite adjustment. It’s a common complaint I hear from friends who work across the country. One of them’s had work done at a Dentist in Bay Harbor Islands, and they were talking about this to me, and they’re friends with a dentist so this says a lot. Still, you have to set proper expectations, because those things are very common. Your mouth is a tough place to work!

TrunkSpace: One of the things that makes you so interesting is that you’re not our parents’ dentist. And by that we mean, you’re hip and you’re plugged into the world of pop culture. Do you think having that knowledge of the pop culture landscape makes you more relatable to patients and able to connect in ways that other doctors can’t??
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, I mean, I hope so! I have always naturally been attracted to the pop culture landscape. Probably because it always seems so fun and cool… and how can you hate fun and cool? Los Angeles is the perfect place for me to do business. LA and Beverly Hills are the epitome of pop culture: lots of hype around new movies, TV shows, music, and restaurants. I believe a big part of the reason we are popular with the “in the know” crowd is because I can relate so well to what those patients are interested in.

TrunkSpace: You’re also an avid sneaker collector. How many pairs are in your collection and how do you view the shoes themselves? Are they art? Are they pop art? What is the allure for you?
Dr. Cohen: I do love me some sneakers. I have around 100 pair of shoes right now. I view them as a way to show people that I have some creativity and style. When I was in dental school I bought about 30 pair of brightly colored sneakers to contrast the boring scrubs that all 126 people in our class had to wear. Sneakers also have a pop culture niche that attracts a hip crowd and I like being part of that.

TrunkSpace: You named your son Jordan after your favorite sneaker brand. Are you nostalgic for the old Jordans or are the new versions just as exciting to you as a collector as those you wore as a kid?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, my little dude is named Jordan. My wife hates it when I say it’s because of Michael Jordan or Jordan Brand sneakers! (Laughter) Before we were even married she said she liked the name Jordan and I quickly agreed. It’s just a coincidence that it’s the same name as my childhood idol, wink wink.

Anyway, I tend to wear the older Jordans like the III’s & IV’s mostly. The new ones are cool, but a little too sporty for me these days. The older ones have become more of a stylish casual sneaker and that fits me better since I don’t really get to play basketball anymore.

Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

TrunkSpace: You and your wife Stacey work together and your practice (The Practice) is based in Beverly Hills. You have a list of celebrity clientele. This seems like the perfect recipe for a reality show. Has that idea ever been floated around?
Dr. Cohen: We’ve asked some patients who are reality TV stars & producers about the business, but not really about us having a show. Looking at it from a business perspective, it would probably be fantastic for our office. Looking at it on the personal side, we’d be concerned about the potential family issues that it could cause working with that type of schedule. I think we would have to consider it if the opportunity arose, but we already have big plans of where we want to take our business that have nothing to do with TV.

TrunkSpace: One of your patients is none other than “Weird Al” Yankovic. We have to ask… and hopefully this doesn’t break doctor/patient confidentiality… but have the two of you ever discussed his dentist-themed song “Cavity Search?”
Dr. Cohen: I did ask him about it! I asked if he thinks about the song when he goes to the dentist. Thankfully, he does not. Cool little secret from that song, he said they actually brought a dentist to the studio to use the drill during the recording.

TrunkSpace: As previously noted, your practice is based in Beverly Hills. One of our favorite places for a martini when in town was Nic’s, which closed down fairly recently. So, related but unrelated at the same time… how bad is alcohol for our teeth?
Dr. Cohen: I think the biggest problems you are going to have from drinking alcohol is the sugar in the mixers and if you pass out without flossing and brushing your teeth! Diagnosis: dental cavities due to drunken behavior. That’s a surefire way to land yourself with an emergency visit to a dentist, like this dentist in Tallahassee or myself!

TrunkSpace: Playing off of our previous question, as a doctor, do you find that people will randomly ask you professional advice in a non-professional atmosphere? (This question seems very Larry David-like, but it seems this may be a very real occupational-meets-social hazard that doctors face.)
Dr. Cohen: Luckily, I don’t get a whole lot of that. Or is it because I’m good at keeping my dental degree a secret from the crazy people I meet?

TrunkSpace: Finally, Dr. Cohen, this is a pop culture magazine, so we have to end with a pop culture-related question. Your practice is called The Practice. There was also a show called “The Practice,” which starred Dylan McDermott and is no doubt available on some streaming platform somewhere. Which Practice is more fun? (This is total layup question but we have our Jordans on so we are prepared for the layup!)
Dr. Cohen: The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental is way more fun! Even a dental office looks exciting compared to a law firm!

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Trunk Bubbles

Kyle Starks


Name: Kyle Starks

Website: Follow him on Twitter here.

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: As a young kid, probably… I don’t know. Nightcrawler? I’m so old now it’s hard to remember growing up.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Probably my lead in “Rock Candy Mountain,” Jackson – I’m all about that dude right now.

Latest Work: In January I published Image Comics’ “Rock Candy Mountain” and Oni Press “Rick and Morty” #34

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Starks: (Laughter) I like to call it kinetic and cartoony. I get a lot of “scratches on bar napkins” and “undetailed,” but I feel like it’s not without detail, it’s just gestural. Movement and pacing is really important to me. And clarity. I definitely focus on those things a lot more than “realism” and “anatomy.”

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Starks: For sure, as a kid I voraciously consumed comics. It’s funny, as a very young person I would’ve sworn I was going to be a comic artist when I grew up. I worked at a comic store through my teens and early twenties, but once I got to college I was really focused on fine art and over-drinking, so I probably went eight years without picking up a comic or even really thinking about comics. When I got married and started having kids and was thinking about things I might never get around to, I did a comic and that love came swooping back in hard and fast.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Starks: When I was a kid I was a huge John Byrne fan, for sure. I’d say looking back now, not as a child but as a teen, probably Evan Dorkin’s work and DeMatteis/Giffen’s “Justice League International” were the biggest influences. As an adult, Kirby, Urasawa and the Swedish cartoonist Jason were my boys when I started making comics. I’m definitely a bigger appreciator of comics as an adult, seeing my peers make incredible work and seeing and hearing their influences.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Starks: Oh, I had no plan. It was a lot of luck that got me here. I love making comics, so I was making them. I realized what I wanted more than anything was more eyes to see them, so I started using all my Kickstarter profits to go to conventions, that formed a lot of relationships with great people and as they say, “one thing led to another.”

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Starks: Through a series of fortuitous events, Matt Fraction read my Kickstarted version of “Sexcastle” at a convention, tweeted about it and emailed me to see if I wanted to work with Image. Just a lot of luck, man. I am fairly certain that he read that book because his plane didn’t take off in time. I mean, you can’t plan stuff like that. I guess the lesson is to make good work and try to put yourself in a position to succeed.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Starks: I would definitely be the exception to that – like I said, I sort of tripped headfirst into it. I had no intention of being a professional, just rather to do something I loved as a profitable hobby. Getting in wasn’t as hard as staying in, being successful and happy at it. But, again, I can’t say enough about how fortunate I’ve been on my journey so far. It’s an unusual path.

In regards to the second part of that question, definitely 2016 was my breakthrough year – “Sexcastle” was published by Image and was nominated for an Eisner. I got an incredible, steady gig with “Rick and Morty” – there was suddenly money and momentum. I Kickstarted my first book in 2013 – that’s an unusually fast career path.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Starks: I don’t do a lot of warm ups – generally if I feel like it’s looking like a day that’s going to need them, I tend to take suggestions from my Patreon supporters or draw wrestlers.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Starks: I’m really happy with my creator-owned stuff and there are definitely some other creators I think about working with more than a specific title. I think we all got little secret dreams, but I would never jinx it by saying it aloud!

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Starks: My ultimate dream is to be able to do this for a long, long time. This job allows me to see my family and spend time with my kids, to travel around. I mean, the benefits outside of punching a time card are huge. I love making comics, I love telling stories – there’s nothing I’d rather be doing and the only absolute dream would be to get to do it for as long as I want to, which is forever.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Starks: My greatest strengths as a storyteller are definitely comedy and action, and I think the secret to both are pacing, timing and clarity. I think also that I have a distinctive style that’s easy to recognize. I am far from being the best artist in comics, I’m frankly not anywhere near that conversation, but I think as a storyteller or a cartoonist I tell stories in a different way than most – and I think being unique or different is a boon.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Stark: I work 100 percent digitally. I’m so much faster from idea to finish, I can’t imagine doing it otherwise. Working digitally kept me in comics early and has allowed me to write and draw a series (“Rock Candy Mountain”) while I wrote and occasionally drew another (“Rick and Morty”) and wrote a third (“Dead of Winter”) last year. No way I could do that analog.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Starks: Never stop making comics, make the comic you want in the world, do it because you love it until it’s potential more than a labor of love and at that point start treating it like a business. Be professional.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Starks: I love it. And right now with the popularity of “Rick and Morty,” fiscally, I have to do them. I wouldn’t be where I am now – wherever that is, really – without conventions. I’ve met and made my best friends in this world, I’ve made the connections that got me work or opportunities and I think hustling your work and meeting the fans is literally priceless. I love them.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Starks: I’m not afraid to say no to something that’s too ridiculous – and I’m pretty sure I’ve been asked to draw some fetish-y, porn-y stuff that I said no to. I’m trying to think. There was a guy at my first convention who asked me to draw a space centaur? I don’t get so many weird ones, I guess.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2018 and into the new year?
Starks: “Rock Candy Mountain” finishes up with issue 8 in February and I’ll continue to write “Rick and Morty” for the foreseeable future and occasionally draw it. There’s been talk about another “Dead of Winter” series and I’m in the middle of contract negotiations for a series with a creator I’ve wanted to work with since my first convention. And hopefully a fresh new Kyle Starks’ joint for everyone to dig on at some point.

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The Featured Presentation

Ian Verdun

Photo By: Claudia Greene

Unless you’re a sailor from the 15th century with a belly full of wine, you probably don’t have a lot of experience with mermaids. That being said, Ian Verdun, star of the new drama series “Siren,” which premieres March 29 on Freeform, promises viewers will find plenty to relate to when mermaids come ashore in the fictional town of Bristol Cove.

The Los Angeles native portrays a salt-of-the-earth fisherman in the new series, and it’s these types of real, recognizable people that he says helps to ground the fantastical elements of “Siren.”

We recently sat down with Verdun to discuss why he thinks the series will have no problem finding an audience, how success won’t mean it arrived overnight, and the reason he genuinely loves portraying his character Xander.


TrunkSpace: Freeform has an amazing track record of building and establishing shows that amass really passionate fandoms. In everything that you have experienced and seen of the show thus far, does it have that same fandom-building potential?
Verdun: Absolutely. I think it could do it on a number of levels, actually. First and foremost it’s about mermaids, so I think there’s already such an avid fan base for that creature, for that folklore, all across the planet. There’s no country in the whole world that doesn’t have some kind of dedication to mermaids, some kind of cultural cornerstone where it deals with those creatures, so I think that alone is gonna have a lot of people very interested from the beginning. And then when they really get into the story and they get into the characters, and they get into what we’ve actually done with these characters, I really think people are gonna find a passionate new angle. And my character, he’s not a supernatural thing. I definitely am not a mermaid. Spoiler alert. (Laughter) But I think there’s something so human about him. When you have characters who do things that are just incredibly relatable, incredibly human, especially against the backdrop of something so crazy and so out there and off the wall, you really find a way to just see yourself in all of these people, in all of their situations, and in all of their hardships in spite of all the zaniness that’s happening.

And I think that the writers have really done a great job of keeping everybody grounded, so when people watch, it’s not just about flippers and fins and intrigue and mystery and all of that other stuff, which is great and awesome, and I enjoy it – I enjoy genre TV like anybody else – but I think the thing that keeps you coming back and makes you really passionate is the people. I tip my hat off to them (the writers) because I was just so excited to get a script every time, because we would just eat it up and just zoom right through every script. It was the only opportunity for us to be fans, because it’s spoiled for us. We already know what’s happening. If anybody watching the show is as involved and intrigued as we were reading it, then, yeah, I think it’s really gonna find a big audience.

TrunkSpace: What’s interesting about mermaids is that, while it’s a recognizable creature, they haven’t been overly exposed in the world of modern pop culture.
Verdun: I totally agree. And I think there’s actually a couple of reasons for that. One I think is that it’s probably just incredibly expensive, technically, to do it, especially on television. It’s a lot of water. It’s a lot of stuff. So I think we’ve just kind of come to a point in time in television, just technically, where we’re able to pull off something like this and make it believable and real and fresh. But I also think culturally we’re just in a different place where Women’s Liberation, the #MeToo movement, Time’s Up and all of these things are happening when it comes to narratives that center on women in positions of power, and I think that before now, it’s been very rare to actually look at these kinds of creatures, these stories, and actually focus in on them and break them down because people weren’t paying attention before.

TrunkSpace: The show is already creating a buzz, and again, Freeform is very good and finding audiences for their programming. With all of that being said, does it feel like “Siren” could be a game changer for you as far as your career is concerned?
Verdun: I mean, one can only hope, right? Don’t count your fish before they’re caught, right? (Laughter) But I would hope so. For me, it’s not really an overnight success. It takes years to become an overnight success. I graduated from college back in 2007, so it’s been a long haul for me.

It’s about the integrity of the story that you’re telling and it’s about the craft, no matter what the project is, you know? You always wanna do your best work and you always wanna be able to stand up and stand behind what you’re doing and be able to defend it, and I’m very lucky with this show that I genuinely enjoy it and I genuinely think it’s a great show. I’m very lucky to be going into this particular process with a project that I really, really, really love. It makes things, I imagine, so much easier. This is the first time I’m doing any of this, so it’s not like I have a lot of comparative experience.

TrunkSpace: Like many other shows nowadays, “Siren” is adopting a smaller season order (10 episodes), which for viewers, feels more consumable. You’re getting story, not just filler content.
Verdun: Exactly. You don’t have those little standalone episodes. It really kind of felt like we were shooting a movie every week. It’s just the production value and the amount of people that are involved, and sometimes, the depths that we had to… pun totally not intended, but kind of intended… the depths that we had to go to to really find characters and to really tell a very honest story about them in light of, like I said before, all the craziness. So I think it’s also advantageous to have smaller episode orders because you’re able to put some money into it, and put some bang into the episodes that really just, you know, knocks everything home, because when it looks beautiful and when everybody’s happy, it shows up on screen.

TrunkSpace: We know you can’t go into too much of the story, but can you give us a taste of what Xander’s personal journey is over the course of that first season?
Verdun: I would love to go into details, but obviously, I can’t. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Contractually you can only confirm that you’re NOT a mermaid.
Verdun: (Laughter) Yeah. All I can say.

What I can say about Xander is I think his journey is incredibly relatable, even though, you know, it’s mermaids and I doubt too many people can relate to dealing with mermaids. I’ll be very surprised if they do. (Laughter) But I think his journey is about friendship and it’s about loyalty and maybe misplaced loyalty. And I think it’s also about family for him. His entire outlook is very tied up in the people that he’s with and he’s around. I think he’s an incredibly smart guy, he’s incredibly intelligent, but I don’t think people give him credit for it. What I do love about him too is he’s just this regular dude. He’s a working class, blue collar fisherman, and I think to give that perspective a younger face, and even to give that perspective a brown face, to me it’s really interesting. I rarely ever see fishermen on TV or even blue collar characters as people of color. They generally aren’t. But we exist, they exist. I don’t come from a high class, upper class, or even upper middle class family at all. I grew up pretty poor. We have blue collar people that have very different faces and it’s almost an honor to be able to represent that and to put a human face on it that looks a bit different.

Siren” premieres on Freeform March 29.

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The Featured Presentation

Jack Turner

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with Turner to discuss reuniting with his “My Summer Prince” costar, why he would hang out with his character Ben in the real world, and the reason he left his job at Google after five years.

TrunkSpace: This isn’t your first time working with Taylor. Was coming together on this movie by design or was it a bit of a surprise for you?
Turner: Taylor was working with the production team a little bit and was able to suggest some names and it ended up coming my way. I was really happy to get it and it was great to have the chance to work with Taylor again – she’s brilliant to work with. It was also fun to get the team together after “My Summer Prince,” which is probably one of my favorite times on set.

TrunkSpace: On-screen chemistry is so important to the success and believability of Hallmark Channel movies. Because you two have worked together in the past, did that allow you and Taylor to jump right into the material and hit the ground running?
Turner: Yeah, totally. I think that chemistry comes from really good listening. I think that that’s the majority of what chemistry is on camera. When you trust that someone’s going to be there and be prepared and be ready to listen to you just as much as you’re ready to listen to them, then it takes a lot of the pressure off and no one’s just thinking about their side of things. It becomes a very interactive acting experience. I think that definitely having worked before and trusting each other the way we do, we could sink very quickly into daily routines of running lines on the way to set, running lines on the way home, and then, “See you tomorrow morning.” It was all very straightforward.

TrunkSpace: And in that, it must give you a sense of comfort off-camera as well – a sense of ease within the job itself?
Turner: Definitely. Simple stuff that makes things really easy. There wasn’t a grocery store nearby and Taylor had a car and I didn’t, and so when she was on set, she’d let me use her car so I could go and get groceries. It’s simple stuff – some surprising teamwork that makes those kinds of experiences even more enjoyable.

TrunkSpace: From our understanding, working on Hallmark Channel productions is an extremely efficient process, which makes sense given how many new movies the network airs each year. From an acting standpoint, how does that efficiency impact what you’re doing as a performer?
Turner: I personally like it. There’s not too much time to overthink things and so you trust your instincts and maybe get some direction to try some different options in takes, leave it behind and move on to the next thing. This film was a 15-day shoot, but my days were condensed into 10. I shot my side of things, the scenes that I was in, in 10 days, which is a very quick shoot for a film. I like that a lot because you just get in that rhythm and it’s very focused.

TrunkSpace: That also must allow you to pursue more projects throughout the course of a year when you’re not committing yourself to a six week or longer shoot?
Turner: Totally. I’ve been quite lucky with the shoots I’ve done. I’ve done more condensed shoots in terms of the amount of time that I’ve been on them. I’d love to do an extended TV show, but it’s also great for me to… I only came to this five or six years ago, so I’m getting loads of varied experiences through lots of different sets and lots of different roles and that’s very enriching.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to your character Ben in “One Winter Weekend,” is he someone who you could see yourself hanging out with in the real world? Was it easy for you to connect with him?
Turner: It definitely was easy to connect with him. He’s a CEO of a company but almost reluctantly so. He started the company, it went public, and he’s beholden to the board of directors and the shareholders. He has a bit more of an entrepreneurial mentality, combined with an easygoing nature, and isn’t strictly business. I think he’s become a bit jaded that his baby isn’t his. His vision isn’t really being fulfilled anymore and the company’s products aren’t being innovative and he needs a weekend away to get some perspective on some of the issues he’s been having in the company and also in the press, and then of course, he meets Cara.

TrunkSpace: And the conflict then arises because she is essentially the press, right?
Turner: Exactly right. Good research.

At the beginning of the film they both book the same chalet and neither of them are happy about it. To ease the tension, their friends that they’re with suggest that no one talks about work for the weekend because we’re all going to be sharing space together and it should just be a fun time.

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel programming continues to grow in popularity. Why do you think that is?
Turner: I think it’s really family friendly, simple entertainment. Simple is the wrong word, but in contrast, simplicity can be elegant in that you have characters who are dealing with very relatable problems, and over the course of the film and the obstacles that they go through, they learn something that is universal about themselves and come out the other side. It can be a very clear learning experience for the audience as well as the characters. I think they’re quite elegant in the ease that the scripts and the films have.

TrunkSpace: You have one of the more interesting journeys in becoming an actor that we’ve read about. Firstly, you studied psychology and we have to imagine that having that knowledge must be pretty beneficial in an industry where there are so many different types of personalities?
Turner: Definitely. Both in terms of the characters you play and also on-set dynamics. That’s where professionalism really comes into play and I was fortunate that I worked at Google for five years and had a heavy dose of professionalism there. I feel like I have good training, if you like, for working in film and TV. The funny thing about the psychology degree is that the way psychology has gone for the last 15 or 20 years, it’s become very scientific. The degree was almost closer to neuroscience or neuropsychology rather than observable human behavior. In a way I feel like acting school, which I did at night while I was working at Google, and then working in film and TV, is the education in psychology I always wanted and also the expression of what I’m interested in. But nevertheless, I really recommend studying psychology if you are interested in it. You can even take online psychology courses so that it can fit around your life a bit more.

TrunkSpace: Like you mentioned, you worked at Google for five years, which is a company that a lot of people are running towards, not from.
Turner: (Laughter) I know. Google is a great job, so I like to joke that it was a series of unforgivable mistakes leaving that place.

TrunkSpace: And it was while you were there that you planted the seed for what would ultimately become your acting career?
Turner: Yeah, it was. I thought I’d go to an acting class for a couple reasons. Partly because of the psychology background and because a few really close friends and family said it could be a good fit as a hobby. I also thought it might help me at work. A lot of the executives do actually use acting coaches in order to help them dealing with different personalities or in helping themselves. Maybe some people need to be more assertive, some people need to listen better, some people need to present with more authority, or maybe even less authority. Acting can be really helpful for executives.

So I went to a class and just instantly fell in love with the rooted but spiritual nature of it. I just fell in love with it and became hooked and did a two-year class while I was in San Francisco at night, two or three nights a week. Then came a time where I was prepared and ready to leave the fold of Google. There’s no regrets, but it was a very difficult decision.

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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The Featured Presentation

Dewshane Williams

Photo: Dewshane Williams Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Dewshane Williams to discuss staying warm on location, being welcomed into the Hallmark Channel family, and why it’s important to learn on the job.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, this is your first time working on a Hallmark Channel movie. Did you go into the production with a certain set of preconceived notions/expectations and how did those views change by the time that the film wrapped?
Williams: You’re correct, this is my first time working with Hallmark Channel. I had no idea what to expect; however, I kept an open mind to the experience which was beneficial to my process. I was able to evolve creatively as a result, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. If there’s anything I’ve discovered it’s that romantic comedies can be a lot of fun to work on.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Hallmark Channel is known for is creating films that establish a feel and tone of a particular season, ultimately putting the audience in that seasonal moment. As far as the technical aspect of making a movie is concerned, was that element of the process new to you and does it ultimately play into how you approach your performance at all?
Williams: I’m from north of the border (Canada) where it can get pretty cold during the winter. For me, shooting in the freezing temperatures of Winnipeg, or the Kananaskis Mountains, was fairly simple. Wear layers, and you’ll be fine. Our wardrobe department was the best. They took care of us by making sure we had the appropriate gear. They’ve got these things we call “hot shots,” which are incredible! You put them on and they heat up for several hours; keeping your muscles and vital organs warm.

TrunkSpace: As far as your character Sean is concerned, can you give us a little insight into who he is as a person and how you “found” him in your own personal discovery process?
Williams: Dr. Sean is an affluent, supportive, free spirit. He’s the kind of friend you want to have in your corner. Sean also has a great sense of humor, which is infectious. We share a number of characteristics in common, and so I was able to understand where he was coming from rather easily. I’m grateful I got the opportunity to bring him to life.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular scene or moment that you’re most excited for people to see in terms of your performance as Sean?
Williams: All of it! Typically, I don’t watch the things I’m in as I’m rather self-conscious – most actors are – however, my intention is to watch this film. Gary Yates did a wonderful job directing us, so I’m curious to see how it all turned out.

TrunkSpace: We have been amazed at how passionate and engaged the Hallmark Channel fan base is, especially via social media. Did you have any idea how popular Hallmark Channel movies were when you signed on for “One Winter Weekend” and now that you’ve been a part of one, what do you think the draw is for all of those “Hallmarkies” who continue to tune in with each new film or series?
Williams: I had no idea how passionate Hallmark Channel’s fan base was! That’s a great thing to hear; hopefully the film lives up to their expectations. I recently attended the TCA 18 event in Los Angeles with Crown Media, and it felt like I was being welcomed into a family. Maybe that’s it? There’s a warmth to the network that’s universal. It feels like you’re welcoming a family member into your home.

TrunkSpace: It feels like there is so much negativity and chaos going on in the world every time you turn on the news or check your Twitter feed. Do you think that part of the appeal of a film like “One Winter Weekend” is that, as a society, we’re just looking to feel good? In a way, they’re a bit of a throwback, are they not?
Williams: Definitely. Globally there’s quite a bit of negativity out there. If we can provide viewers with stories that help them believe in a better world, or warm their hearts; we’re responding to that negativity in a creative way. “One Winter Weekend” will make you feel good while watching it. That was one of our intentions.

TrunkSpace: Prior to your work on “One Winter Weekend,” you appeared in a number of science fiction and action projects. Was that by design? Did you have an interest in those genres that lead you down that path, or did fate step in and point you in that direction?
Williams: Prior to “One Winter Weekend” I’ve done a number of science fiction and action projects, you’re right. I think it was both by design and fate. As a boy, I was always interested in sci-fi and action. Getting the opportunity to combine both on a show like “Defiance” or “The Expanse” was a dream come true. Some of my biggest influences in film/TV are Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Steven Spielberg, and Will Smith, respectively. All of those names have an extensive background in science fiction/action projects… maybe I’m subconsciously following their lead?

TrunkSpace: A number of the series you have appeared on have built passionate fandoms, both due to their source material/character origins (“Supergirl”) and their originality (“Defiance”). Do you think social media has allowed series like those we mentioned to build on their fandoms in ways that shows of the past were unable to do? What is your relationship with social media and the fans who reach out to you via the platform?
Williams: I’m very fortunate that the fandoms I’ve encountered so far in my career have been wonderful. They really care about the shows we’re making and that’s apparent to us. “Defiance” and “Supergirl” fandoms, we see you and appreciate your enthusiasm. I think fandom organization is much easier than it used to be prior to the internet, and that definitely allows certain shows/films to thrive. The audience is a very important part of what we do and so I try my best to engage them online when I can. I haven’t been on Twitter in a while, but I’ll return sooner than later!

Williams in Defiance. Photo By: Joe Pugliese/Syfy

TrunkSpace: You studied your craft in school, but how much have you learned through the act of doing that you could have never discovered in a classroom? Is it important for people to strike a balance between training and hands-on experience to find success as an actor?
Williams: I went to an arts school in Toronto, and one of my school mates once gave me some great advice. I was in-between acting classes and I reached out to Nina (Dobrev) asking her for some advice on the craft. Her response has always stuck with me. She said, “Some of the biggest things I’ve learned happened while working on set.” That’s proven to be true for me as well. Understanding how to efficiently communicate with my crew/director in the workplace was one of those skills I’ve been able to develop. You can only learn so much in the classroom, or during training. At some point, you’ll have to take those skills and apply them while in the work environment. As a general rule in life, balance is key.

TrunkSpace: You started out acting for the stage. Does that medium still call out to you and do you continue to perform in theatrical productions?
Williams: Yes! The stage calls me from time to time. I would love to produce and star in some theater. Maybe Shakespeare? I had a chat with a friend of mine last month who wanted to do a little play, so I might do that if the scheduling is right. Would you come?

TrunkSpace: Count us in! Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Williams: Yes. My aspirations have evolved since I first started acting, as I’m constantly growing. I would love to offer more to the industry, and hopefully I can provide opportunities for others as well. I’m interested in writing and producing. directing is also something I would love to explore. Over the years my appreciation for the other departments that make up our community has grown immensely.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Williams: New year, same me. I’m trying my best to grow creatively, have new experiences, and read a couple more books. That hasn’t changed since last year.

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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The Featured Presentation

Rukiya Bernard


Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Rukiya Bernard to discuss her “One Winter Weekend” highlights, why her character’s story delivers a great message for women, and the crossover between the Hallmarkies and the Helsingers.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on multiple Hallmark Channel movies throughout the course of your career, the most recent being “One Winter Weekend.” Do you continue to return to the Hallmark Channel fold because of the people involved, because of the characters you get to portray, or a combination of both?
Bernard: I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy doing lighthearted comedies and Hallmark gives me the chance to do that.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product – the completed film – is what becomes memorable, but for those who work on a project, there’s an entire experience involved. What for you were some of the highlights of your time on “One Winter Weekend?”
Bernard: There were a number of highlights in this movie such as eating fondue for work, figuring out how to do things while both hands were incapacitated and getting to know the cast. We’d go out after work whenever possible and it was great getting to know them.

TrunkSpace: When you first got a sense of who Megan was, what initially drew you in, and did you begin to enjoy different aspects of her personality as you spent more time with her?
Bernard: When I first got the role of Megan I enjoyed her free spiritedness, which contrasts nicely with her REALLY good work ethic. It’s maybe too good to her detriment. I enjoyed her playful side and that really drew me in.

TrunkSpace: What is Megan’s journey throughout the course of the film? Did you get to tackle something within the performance that you have yet to onscreen?
Bernard: Megan’s journey is one of learning to stand her ground and go after what she wants in life. I loved that aspect of her story. I think it’s a great message for women to hear – for everyone to hear, actually.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel movies continue to grow in popularity and draw massive audiences week after week, season after season. As someone who has worked on multiple productions, what do you think the draw is?
Bernard: I think the draw is they are easy to watch and people know what to expect. They’re never going to make you uncomfortable and they’ll always put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, I think we need that and I think that’s a huge part as to why the numbers are increasing week to week.

TrunkSpace: As a star of “Van Helsing,” you’re no stranger to passionate fandoms. What we didn’t realize until we started really diving into Hallmark Channel content was that the films have their own really passionate fandoms called the “Hallmarkies.” In your experience, how do the Hallmarkies compare to some of the genre fandoms like what you have experienced firsthand with “Van Helsing?”
Bernard: You know what’s interesting is some of the Helsingers are Hallmarkies too! I was shocked to see the crossover when I started getting messages from fans. It makes me laugh as “Van Helsing” is a horror show – very dramatic and tragic with lots of blood and gore – it’s vampires! And then my Helsingers will change channels and enjoy a MOW I’m in with lightness and everlasting love and lots of fun shenanigans. I love it!

Photo: Rukiya Bernard, Taylor Cole Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you have made two appearances on the series “Supernatural,” a show whose fan base continues to propel it forward, currently into its 13th season. You first guested in season 7, and just returned for season 13, playing two entirely different characters. What is it is like getting to play two characters within the canon of one popular series? Although not entirely rare in the “Supernatural” world, it is relatively rare in the industry as a whole, correct?
Bernard: Yes, it is rare to be invited back onto a show and I was honored that it happened. The SPN fans are super loyal too. It was fun playing both characters who were quite different in that, though both were counseling types (season 7 I played a fraudulent psychic and season 13 I played a grief counselor), the characters were very different and had different demises – I never died in the current season.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about “Supernatural” is that from a storytelling standpoint, it’s this perfect mix of the fantastical and the relatable. In your season 13 episode, “The Big Empty,” you portrayed a shapeshifter who was dealing with some really heavy, human circumstances and emotions. That sort of perfectly sums up the unlimited potential of acting in terms of where you can go with the craft, does it not? Getting to play a “monster” who, in the end, is the victim, is a theme as old and as relatable as the story of Frankenstein, but at the same time, it’s not something you get to do while sitting in a cubicle at an office.
Bernard: (Laughter) Yeah, it’s not an average day at the office – though if you watch “Van Helsing,” my character Doc is a “monster” grappling with finding and proving her humanity again, so maybe it is another day at the office for me. I think the constant in all the characters I’ve played is that they are presented as one thing and through the journey they go on they endeavor to change. I love playing those characters because I think people need to see that it’s possible to change if you want to.

TrunkSpace: You have received both fan acclaim and critical praise for your work on “Van Helsing.” As you look back over your time on the series, what memories bring a smile to your face, both professionally and personally?
Bernard: I have many fond memories. “Van Helsing” is my first television series and I’m lucky that we’ve been picked up for a third season. When I think about my first few days on set, I was so nervous and was convinced that I was going to get fired, but I think back on those days now and they make me laugh. I also think about the friendships I’ve made and how lucky I am.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, your mother was an art store owner. Did you grow up in a creative environment where your own creative endeavors were supported and nurtured?
Bernard: You’ve done your research. Yes, my mom owned Toronto’s first African art store and though she wasn’t an artist she was a huge supporter of the arts and really helped encourage my artistic desires. Both my parents did. My dad was a graphic artist before becoming an entrepreneur and he’s a really good singer, too. I think I get my artsiness from him.

Bernard in Van Helsing. Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy

TrunkSpace: Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Bernard: Not really. I just think my goals are more well-rounded because they now include my family and balancing my dreams and aspirations with my kids and my husband. We aim to support each other with the varying things we want to do in life.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Bernard: I didn’t set any resolutions. I kind of have a fear of them as they set you up for failure. However, I did decide to work out more even when I can’t get to the gym and have crafted workouts I can do at home and while I’m on the road. No excuses this year!

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

Season 2 of “Van Helsing” arrives on Netflix today.

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