ED- There are many things that motivate people to choose a career in acting, and some times what may start as a near tragedy will become the catalyst for reaching for ones dreams. The Eerie Digest presents actor Brian St. August who fills such a situation to reach for his dream. Brian, your original career was far different then the one that you are in now. Please tell us of your beginnings and your early education.
BSA- I got my undergraduate degree at Towson State College, now Towson University. My major was in Sociology/Psychology. I entered the field of human resources and spent a progressive full career in that field, ultimately consulting senior executives in Organization Development. I was an international human resources director for a large corporation and was exposed to many cultures all over this hemisphere. I was also a songwriter since I was 13 years old and professionally wrote up to the near present time. I was very shy during most of my life and did very well one on one, but struggled in front of groups and crowds.
BSA- My original goal in life was to be a singer/songwriter and I did wind up being a professional songwriter for many years. I played professionally as Three Down Dave and with my brother as Three Down & the Moose for 10 years. I released two CD’s of songs that I wrote, arranged and sang; “Legacy” and “Heroes on a Hostile Planet”. When I saw Hayley Mills in “Parent Trap” in the early ‘60’s, I decided that if I was an actor or a recording star, I might be able to meet her. I understand that wonderful actor Kevin Klein had the same motivation to get into acting. The difference is that Kevin has met Hayley and I have not. Lol.
ED- In 1999 you underwent surgery that nearly threatened your life. Please tell our readers all about this and what inspired you towards your new career change.
BSA- On October 4, 1999, I had an emergency multiple heart bypass surgery, I had a 90%+ blockage of my coronary main artery. Fortunately, I survived the surgery, but had a major depression during recovery. The thought stayed with me that if I had died on that date – and I nearly did – I would not have experienced the things that I had often thought about doing, but avoided out of fear and shyness. I had seen the Meryl Streep/Albert Brooks movie. “Defending Your Life”, which dealt with that subject head on. While taking my daughter on a trip to Machu Picchu Peru in 2000, I had kind of an epiphany and committed myself to breaking down the walls of my shyness, even if it killed me. I swore that the last stage of my life was going to be one of actualization and complete harmony with my heart and spirit. I began to play music at a very historic dive bar in the Fells Point area of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. After many difficult moments and hard lessons, I conquered those fears and began feeling very comfortable managing a live audience for 4-hour gigs. In truth, this is where I developed my stage presence. My son and daughter are both theatre bred actors; I am not. My training was in a bar.
BSA- Yes, my daughter was shooting a leading role in one of Don Dohler’s Timewarp Film Productions called “Harvesters”. It dealt with a family of body snatchers who profited on the sale of “fresh” human organs. Anyway, they needed an actor to play a Sheriff in a principal role and my daughter suggested me to the director. I had been a single parent for many years and in raising both a daughter and a son who were excellent actors, I got the opportunity to read sides with them on many occasions, so Jaime felt that I could do a good job when she recommended me. I wound up shooting the role and had a great time. So oddly enough, my first acting experience was a principal role in an independent movie.
ED– From there you played a role in a western titled ‘One-Eyed Horse’. Tell us all about this and the training that you underwent for your role.
BSA- In truth, from there I did a TON of background work on almost every major studio movie shot in the Philly- Baltimore- Washington, DC area. I did this to learn the business and to meet people in the industry. I should state upfront that I am a character actor in the manner of Gary Oldman or Dustin Hoffman. I AM NOT putting myself in their league at all(!), merely saying that my roles are so similarly diverse that people rarely recognize me from one project to the next. I love that. It allows me to live a very unaffected lifestyle…absolutely no one knows me. Near the end of 2009, I had 3 national ads with Dragon Software, a local TV ad on Fox TV and I did two full principal days on “As the World Turns” on CBS. They were all viewable at the same time…. And no one knew me at all. In “One-Eyed Horse” (in distribution as “Come Hell or High Water”), I played the character of Colonel John Cussons, a Wild West showman in the spirit of Wild Bill Hickock. My character was an expert rider and I had to address a large, loud crowd on horseback. Plus, there was gun fire on the set. I did five weeks of Cowboy boot camp in preparation for the role and learning to look comfortable in the saddle. The last 3 weeks of boot camp, I rode my mount, Stormy, for 20+ hours a week to develop trust for the scenes we had to shoot together. I should mention that Stormy is a helluva actor. I also joined SASS, the single action shooting society, an international organization that reinacts the cowboy days in the Old West by doing shooting competitions with vintage style firearms.
ED- You also starred in the TV movie ‘Hunting The Anthrax Killer’. Please tell our readers about this aspect of your career.
BSA- I did this project for National Geographic TV and played an FBI agent. Later I did a similar role for “The Bureau” on Investigation Discovery Channel as an FBI agent. Last year, I played the name role of Tom Hawks in the “Wicked Attractions” episode of “The Calm Before the Storm on ID. Most recently, I filmed for ID a couple of months ago as Captain Lancaster, a cop who gets shot stopping a suspicious official vehicle. It was for a new show called “FBI: Criminal Pursuit”. I love the people at M2 Productions who I have worked with on numerous occasions now… and it seems like they like me… fingers crossed.
ED- Another milestone in your career was when you performed in two episodes of ‘As the World Turns’. How did acting in a soap opera differ from the roles that you played before?
BSA- What an absolutely amazing experience! Every aspect of this came out of Disney! A friend of mine encouraged me to go to an open call in Philly for “As the World Turns”. I had never been to an open call before, because my agents always got me auditions on an appointment basis. But this was a friend who knew that I had been encouraged by my mentor, Lisa Scott, to explore Soaps. So, I arrive and there is a crowd of a billion people waiting to audition. I was number 540 and didn’t get seen until almost 5:00pm, after standing in line for 6 hours. At that point, the casting people stopped doing scene auditions and began just interviewing people. I left the venue that evening saying, “I ain’t never gonna hear from them… onward and elsewhere”. I just put it out of my mind. A week to the day later I got a call from Mary Clay Boland (Emmy Award Winning casting director for ATWT.). She reminded me that I had gone to their open call and then stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Oh, what I really want to say is that I want to hire you for the principal role of Sgt. McGill. It’s a great role, lots of dialogue AND you will interact over two days of projects with many of our leading cast members”. To this day, I will always say, God Bless Mary Clay Boland, saint and casting director extraordinaire! The main difference between shooting a soap and shooting movies is this… we shot two 1-hour episodes in an 8 hour day. They shoot fast and expect excellence. It was challenging, but I worked with the greatest actors and people in the business. It was a breakthrough opportunity for me. I got my NY management relationship as a result.
ED- You recently played a role in th ‘Reunion’. Describe this film and tell us about the actors and cast in it.e film
BSA- “Reunion” is a beautiful uplifting movie from producer/director Connie Lamothe. It is the story of an estranged husband and wife getting back together by chance after 35 years of separation, each believing that the other had died escaping East Germany. I played Fritz Gerhardt, the husband. It required a German accent which I had also recently done in a movie called “Feet of Destiny”. The movie starred Connie Lamothe, Paul Wiedecker, Kevin Troy, Allison Marie (Plourde), Terry Mc Connaughey and Marie Callier. One interesting trivia is that my son Chris played my character when I was younger during a flashback scene. Connie Lamothe is an incredible woman that has put wholesome family viewing back into independent movies that often feature nothing but horror and violence. In addition, Connie is a superb actor.
ED- From this production you performed in the short, ‘Runner’, and one episode of ‘Adventures of Louanna Lee’. Please describe these aspects of your career.
BSA- I did a cameo in Adventures of Louanna Lee 3 to establish my character, “The Fixer”. We just recently finished and acquired product for “The Fixer” which was a pilot episode. It’s a story about a down fallen states attorney who is resurrected by an enlightened Zen master and martial artist. Think Naked Gun meets James Bond. “The Fixer” has not screened yet, but preliminary response has been excellent. Lee Doll is the producer of the Louanna series and “The Fixer”. I love Lee like a brother and am blessed that he chose me for the lead in his project. In “Runner”, I play the co-lead of a Texas Sheriff on the heels of a Cowboy who seems to be up to no good. Nick Torrens plays the Cowboy and he is exceptional. This movie will screen at the Vail International Film Festival, March 31-April 3. I will be there, so if you are in town, look me up and buy me a tequila. Lol. The production company is Expressway Productions, a very high quality organization that is going to be heard from quite a bit down the road.
ED- You quickly jumped into a series of films from here. They included ‘Roulette’, , and ‘Zombie Doomsday’. These seem to be a different genre then you played in previously. Please tell us all about these films.
BSA- “Roulette” is a dark psychological film by Erik Kristopher Myers, arguably one of independent film’s most exciting young writer/directors. I played Doctor Klein in a very serious role modeled after my primary care physician Ken Williams. It is the ONLY movie I have shot without my moustache. “Zombie Doomsday” was a totally improv movie shot in one very long night in Aberdeen, MD, Cal Ripken’s home town. I have also shot a couple of other films of a wacky genre, “Witches’ Brew”, where I play a handicapped Viet Nam veteran, and “The Devil’s Playthings” where I play Cardinal Menendez. I also shot “Piyali’s Password”, the first Bengali movie shot 100% in the US. I play detective Mark Nader. Very sadly, Piyali’s writer/director Raj Basu died very prematurely last year and the film had been somewhat stunted. I loved Raj and appreciate his faith in me when I was new in the business. I have also worked in “2012: Seeking Closure”, a Kevin Tan Film, where I played the leader of France. Recently, I shot on “Senior Cut Day” for Corey Williams and played the mayor. Next week I am shooting for Zany Zone Productions on a short film entitled “Fear of Flying Flight School”. I play a pilot that is somewhere between John Wayne in “The High and the Mighty” and Peter Graves in “Airplane”. These films haven’t hit the IMDb yet for obvious reasons.
ED- Your latest foray was into three films that are in various stages of production. They include ‘Early Retirement’, ‘The Color of Rain Is Red’, and ‘The Driver’. Can you give us a sneak-preview behind the scenes on these projects?
BSA-Well, “The Color of Rain is Red” was actually shot a couple of years ago and is a sci fi short in high contrast black and white. My character Victor is trying to take over the world. He is unsuccessful. I played a hit man in “Early Retirement”, who reverses a contract put out on him and tricks his opponent into a Mickey Finn…. then shoots him. “The Driver” is a very exciting project from Connie Lamothe starring Abe Vigoda and Vincent Pastore. It is the story of a driver for a Mafioso organization. I play an interesting womanizer named Bobby. It only cost me a couple hundred dollars to get this role…. No, not really. Production should begin in early summer, or fall.
ED- We also understand that you are a gifted song-writer and singer. Please tell us about some of the music that you produced and where our readers can find it.
BSA- Well, as I said, I have been writing since I was 13 years old. I wrote the alma mater for Catonsville Community College, now Community College of Baltimore at Catonsville. I have had many cuts by various artists including myself, but one that I am especially proud of is “Can’t We Start Over Again”, which I wrote and was recorded beautifully by the O’Roark Brothers in 1984, with Patty Parker producing. It was a pick hit in Billboard and Music Business magazines the same week. I have many songs in Nashville catalogues and various parts of the country. I produced albums for myself, Curt Reynolds, Lori Grigsby and others. I still love to write and play guitar, but I am frankly too busy right now because of my acting. So, for the moment, my home recording studio is sitting idle.
ED- It is really true when they say that a simple turn in the road in life can change the path that you walk on, and that has been so true in your case. Even though that change was a difficult transition at the time, you have weathered it bravely and demonstrated what a remarkable person you have become. Brian, we want to thank you for your time with us and we are sure that our readers will be fascinated with your life’s story.
BSA – Thank you so much for the opportunity to share with Eerie Digest. If there is one thing that I would like to leave with your readers, it is this: We are always able to reinvent ourselves in a NY minute. All it takes is a dream, trust and a very high level of motivation. We live and then we die. What we do in between is our gift to humanity, so we should be aware of that responsibility every day.