“I think it was the storytelling aspect of it, that you could affect people, you could tell stories about your country and where you come from; challenge ideas, and in the rare instance even affect change.”
Dustin Clare, of Spartacus, Strike Back and the Wolf Creek TV series, is speaking about what drove him to become an actor. “I worked a job after I finished high school as a trainee laboratory assistant at the NSW DPI [Department of Primary Industries] that I hated, and I was really very grateful that I had that experience at a young age because it made me ask the question of myself ‘what do you really want to do with your life’, and pursuing acting was something I became very passionate about.”
Growing up in the picturesque coastal Northern Rivers, right next to Byron Bay, it was all about water and sport for Clare and his mates. At 19, he was lucky to be accepted into the Perth based acting school, WAAPA. “WAAPA has one of the best reputations of any drama school globally,” he says of the school that has produced everyone from Hugh Jackman to Dacre Montgomery. “You’re out of the eye of the industry over in WA, which gives you a great space to work on exploring and making mistakes and therefore learning about process. I grew a lot as an actor, and even more as a person. I will always be very grateful for my training there, and for the WA state governments support for WAAPA.”
Thanks to technology, Clare is still based in the Northern Rivers, where he lives with his partner, Camille Keenan, and their kids. In 2014, Keenan and Clare co-wrote and starred in the indie Sunday, which they also produced and distributed under the banner of Fighting Chance Films. “As an actor you don’t have a lot of control over your career, bar what you say ‘yes’ to and what you say ‘no’ to,” says Clare today. “You need to create work for yourself, take on that responsibility, take the initiative to make your own work and tell your own stories. I think you have to admire people like Joel Edgerton who has always created work for himself and taken control of the stories he wants to tell.
“After we produced and distributed Sunday, I realised Fighting Chance Films had made all these great contacts with exhibitors, aggregators, broadcasters and streaming services and that I was able to help get some stories to Australian and New Zealand audiences that otherwise would not get a chance to be seen here. There is a vast array of quality films, that challenge audiences or have real integrity that are just getting missed. Not picked up by distributors for a variety of reasons, but films that none the less are of real quality and substance. I thought we could help those films get an audience and get seen.”
Coming up for Fighting Chance Films is the documentary SEED: The Untold Story, releasing theatrically April 20 in Australia and New Zealand, and the US indie A Fighting Season, starring Clayne Crawford and Lew Temple, which releases May 26 on VOD platforms worldwide. Additionally, “…director Jim Lounsbury [Love is Now, in which Clare had a supporting role] and I are currently shooting a doco about the future of homes called The House That Wiki Built [pictured top].”
And when it comes to his initial love, acting, Dustin Clare has just completed work on the Sydney-shot Pacific Rim: Maelstrom. “[Casting Director] Kirsty McGregor asked me to put down a test for the role. I had worked with the Director Steven DeKnight before on the Spartacus series. I play the ex-drift partner of Scott Eastwood’s character, so there is some history and tension in that relationship. That’s probably about as much as I can say about the project at this time. I hope to continue to balance my career between Australian and international projects.”