Making a mark from the middle of Nowhere
17 years old and Matt Testro has his first professional role in ABC3's new teen series, Nowhere Boys.
Not a bad way to start your career, really, playing one of four leads in the new ABC3 series from Matchbox Pictures.
Testro (pictured, far right) plays Jake, one of the mismatched teens who become caught up in a supernatural experience.
“We get lost in this forest during a school excursion. A few peculiar things happen overnight,” he said.
“The next morning we find our way back to our town of Bremin but things aren’t quite as they seem. We come to the realisation that everything is the same except for this one difference which is that we were never born. It’s like an alternate dimension.
“A supernatural event happens which we’ll find out later in the series what that is.”
Testro plays alpha-jock Jake, but Testro says don’t be deceived by appearances.
“He might come across as a bully to the untrained eye, so to speak, but it’s just an aggressive front. He’s quite protective into letting anyone in to who he really is. He doesn’t let anyone into his private life because he’s quite torn. His dad is a bit of a reject who can’t seem to get himself together and his mum is working two jobs, trying to keep them afloat. He lives in quite a shabby place,” he says.
“He’s quite embarrassed about that. He loves his dad but not as much as he loves his mum, he adores her. But he’s still kind of embarrassed and he uses that aggressive front towards the other kids at school.
“But it’s really just a ‘Don’t mess with me sort of attitude.’ Passive aggressive, sort of…”
Joining him are (from L to R) Rahart Sadiqzai as Sam, Joel Lok as Andy and Dougie Baldwin as Felix. Adult roles include Michala Banas, Damien Richardson and Heidi Arena.
The show, created by Tony Ayres (The Slap, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, Saved, Bogan Pride), is aimed at 10-16 year olds.
“This is actually my first job and the learning curve has been incredible,” says Testro.
“Before this I did acting courses for fun and it was something I enjoyed doing. I always did Drama at school and I enjoyed Improv competitions and stuff like that.”
Testro’s enthusiasm is unmistakable, but shooting Nowhere Boys hasn’t been without its challenges.
‘The hours are the hardest part. But getting up at 4:30 for something I love is a lot easier than getting up at 7:30 for school. The hours don’t faze me too much until about 3:30 in the afternoon and then it starts to catchup with you,” he admits.
“(Directors) Daina Reed and Peter Carstairs have been fantastic. And I learned from Phillip Jones and Greg Spiller the first assistant directors. They have so much to offer. Greg Saunders, our drama and dialogue coach was amazing during rehearsals. I felt like I got more out of 3 weeks one on one with him then any acting courses I ever did. But Simon the DIrector of Photography, lighting, props, watching the way they set it up, gives you a broader knowledge of what you have to do during the scene.
“Everyone has to be doing their thing for the scene to work.”
The acting courses he refers to even includes an 8 day course in Los Angeles. During his time in the US Testro got a lucky break.
“I was lucky enough to end up with an agent over there just through meeting people. So then I started taking it seriously. It was great having other people acknowledge my abilities,” he says.
Testro now has both US and Australian representation. And while he is no relation to agent Stacy Testro, his family does have a background in entertainment.
“Mum was once a casting agent for musical theatre and she does event management. And my dad is a singer with SMA Productions doing corporate events around Australia and the world,” he explains.
Testro has also been studying Year 12 whilst filming Nowhere Boys, a big ask for any 17 year old.
“I did 7 hours tutoring today as well as shooting. I’m doing Year 12 which is also important to me, but I’ve split it up over 2 years to try and take a little bit of pressure off. I’m doing Legal Studies and English this year and next year I plan to do Australian History, Music and Drama,” he says.
“But for now whenever I’m not shooting and I’m back at Unit Base I’ll be doing tutoring, trying to keep up with the class. I actually find I get more done here and it’s twice as time efficient, because I haven’t got my mates next to me!”
I ask about his ambitions and which actors he most admires?
“Tom Hardy is a great actor the way he just immerses himself into a role. It’s really admirable. Then there’s the greats like Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, who are increadible actors. Chris Hemsworth and Sam Worthington are real inspirations as far as Australian talent goes. To try and follow in the footsteps of people like that would be amazing.
“But all the boys are great and they bring their own thing to the mix. Joel is a great actor to work with and so is Rahart and Douggie. They’ve all got certain things that they’re really, really good at. They’re all young actors with previous experience but I’m the new one. I’ve got so much to learn from them.”
Nowhere Boys premieres 6:30pm Thursday November 7 on ABC3.