Local actor Scott Barker, best known for appearances in Amazon Original ‘Reacher’ and the Hallmark classic ‘Christmas in Montana,’ revisits his life in film and the friendships made when away from home on the holidays.
The movie screen casted light upon a sparse audience. In one of the rows, Scott Barker, a Devlin native residing in the east end of Toronto, watched the 1946 American classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” alone on Christmas Day.
Perhaps unlike the other “alone” people in the audience, Barker also knew what it was like to be in front of the camera. He moved to the city in 2017 to pursue roles in television and film, far away from home where he grew up in Devlin and attended high school in Fort Frances.
The world of film, Barker said, was like painting a picture. And the actors, who bring their entire heart and soul to perform, were only a small part of a grand process.
His roles first began with commercials, music videos, and student films then expanded to his best known appearances in the Hallmark movie classic ‘Christmas in Montana’ (2019), sci-fi thriller ‘Night Raiders’ (2021), movie drama ‘A Song for Us’ (2021), and the Amazon original TV series called ‘Reacher’ (2022).
“That was wild,” Barker said regarding his experience playing the role of an Alabama Cop in ‘Reacher.’
He recalled long work days on set, prior dialect coachings via Zoom, and multiple costume fittings which required him to drive around 20 hours from Fort Frances to Toronto.
On one occasion, his car broke down two hours outside of town.
“I ended up sitting in my trailer for eight hours and they used me for the last two hours. I just sat in a cop car. And they didn’t get to my stuff because it was the end of the day and legally, contractually, they had to end the day for these lead actors. I went home [to Fort Frances] again. And then I was just waiting for a call for when they want me to come back on set. And so they called me like a week later, [saying], ‘We need you in two days.’”
“And you always need to leave a day to get your COVID test, or else you can’t step on set. So I get in my car, start driving to Toronto, and my car breaks down two hours outside of town. Luckily, flights were going again at that time. So I ended up flying down to Toronto, from Thunder Bay, and then flying back.”
“If you see the shot, like I’m just standing in the rain, I’ve got all this rain gear on so it’s just like pouring down on me. And it’s so loud that I can’t hear anything. I can’t hear myself. I can’t hear the actress that I’m working with.”
“So the first take I’m standing there and I’m just like staring at her like, ‘Did she say her line yet?’” Barker said, laughing at how he had to learn to read the actresses lips to know when to say his line. “But yeah, I couldn’t hear myself and with the accent work, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I sound ridiculous or this sounds right.’”
Barker confirmed that the rain was artificial, pouring down from a massive truck and crane. “It’s just deafening. It doesn’t look that heavy in the shot, but on set it was intense. So I was just soaked all night even though I had all this rain gear.”
Since the pandemic, Barker noted some changes in the way things are done in the film industry, such as the shift toward virtual auditions. Oftentimes, he was notified about an audition only a day before. Submitting self-tapes made it more accessible for actors like himself to try for roles located beyond rural areas. The process involved recording the audition on his phone, editing it, and having it approved by his casting agent.
Barker attributes a lot of where he is today to the encouragement and support from his brother.
“My incredible brother, Trevor Barker, who is doing ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ He has done so many auditions with me, God bless because that poor guy, he’s been awesome.”
“He loved film, he loved music, and those are all things that I feel I’ve followed in his footsteps in those places. And we’ve really shared an appreciation of those things over the years and I feel like he’s like a super safe and helpful space to talk about the art stuff with.”
“I think my brother knew before I did [that he wanted to work in the entertainment industry], because he actually got into theater and stuff, which then inspired me and I think helped give me the courage to step into theater as well.”
“I heard it was amazing,” Barker said, regarding his brother’s inaugural production of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ performed at Townshend Theatre. “And I’m so sad that I didn’t get to see it.”
Barker received his bachelors in musical theater performance at Sheridan College in Toronto. Despite his background in musical theater, performing in front of a live audience where he experienced more moments “falling into character,” he said he prefers working in film.
“There’s something about film that I just think is magical… Some people love that they get their energy from the audience, I tend to like to sort of disappear in my own world.”
“My theater training definitely gave me a lot, as far as learning to step into different characters, and how to confidently do that, and to do your best to immerse in this character,” Barker said. “Without my theater training, there’s no way that I would have ever been able to step on a film set.”
“In film, although there are a lot of people around you, they’re all just there to paint this picture,” said Barker. “I love that collaborative nature of film. And that everybody is just looking to make it better. There’s nobody there watching and judging like, ‘Oh, good job,’ or ‘That was bad.’ Everybody just wants to make something really excellent and powerful.”
Barker said he is starting to dabble in a bit of behind-the-scenes training in film. He was at a workshop in Kelowna, BC, shadowing a director who “was super generous with his knowledge.”
His sentiment reflects the ending of his favorite film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when the main character, a man with a big heart yet frustrated by his failures, finds himself surrounded by friends who remind him that he is not alone.
“I think that’s the lovely thing about holidays. Even if you feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t be home,’ or ‘I’m not around my family,’ there’s an opportunity to make family elsewhere for a season.”
Although he’s in a “transition period,” starting several new jobs out in Alberta, Barker said he will always keep a “toe dipped in film.”
“I feel like I was created to create,” he said. “I feel like a part of my God-given identity is to be a storyteller and to serve people who love to tell stories. I just think that everybody has a creative voice, whether that’s building houses or, you know, all the different things.”
“I would love to be able to one day, bring all these creatives together. Be like, ‘You’re awesome at this. I trust you. Let’s do it. Let’s make a cool team.’”
To connect with Scott Barker, follow his art account on Instagram @scott_barker_art.