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The Dinosaur Project - Matt Kane interview (exclusive)

The Dinosaur Project

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MATT Kane talks about making his feature film debut in The Dinosaur Project and some of the challenges involved, including getting to grips with the outdoors and CGI monsters.

He also talks about his audition process and what appearing in the film means for his career.

Q. I’d imagine that getting the chance to be in a film that resembled Jurassic Park and Cloverfield was too good an opportunity to pass by?
Matt Kane: I was incredibly excited about being a part of this from the second I got the script. And that excitement remained throughout the audition process and seeing it come to life, especially once it looked possible that it was going my way. Besides, no one my age is going to turn down the chance to do a dinosaur film. I grew up with Jurassic Park.

Q. How was the audition process for you?
Matt Kane: There were several auditions. I did one originally which was very interesting because they gave me a camera and then left the room and told me to take my time and do a video diary like the ones you see me do in the film. I had to do it on a little basic handicam. Then, a few weeks later I got called in to meet Sid [Bennett, the director] and go through some scenes with the actors who were being cast to play my dad and Charlie. From that point on, I met Richard [Dillane, who plays Luke’s dad] and we started to work together. I think it was another month after that… it was a reasonably long process, but the next one was with Richard again and we had a long workshop day with Sid and Tom, the DP [director of photography], doing some improvisational exercises. I really clicked with Richard and felt we had a good vibe from the offset, so that worked out in my favour too.

Q. Was it a relief to finally get out to South Africa and be on a film set? I mean, are there times when you start to think it might never happen?
Matt Kane: It was. But whenever I audition for something, if I get excited about the project I’m totally committed to it from that point on. But it can also be a long process, so when I eventually get given the part it’s then that I realise that I’ve actually got to do it and here comes the work! You have to convince other people and yourself that you’re capable and can do it, so that can be nerve wracking. But after a day, or a few rehearsals, you get used to everyone. I certainly felt ready when it came to filming this. But I suppose, yes, it’s always a bit of a relief when you get on-set and get to work.

Q. How much did being in such amazing locations [in South Africa] help to inform the character?
Matt Kane: It massively helped. It was amazing to be on location so much rather than being in a studio, where it’s less easy and more reliant on your imagination and using your tools as an actor, trying to put yourself in that situation. The fact we were in some of the most beautiful places provided an incredible opportunity and a massive aid for my performance… just being on those incredible rivers and on those spectacular mountains. It was like experiencing the same things as my character a lot of the time.

Q. Are you a natural outdoors person?
Matt Kane: I am. I love to hike. I spend a lot of time in LA at the moment and so I hike all the hills. I had no idea how much hiking there was available there. But I regularly go up to Griffith Park and hike around there. And I just went camping this weekend in Wales and got sunburnt on my face! It’s a tradition I do with my friends. We call it ‘dads and lads’ where we all go camping. We’ve done it for the past 10 years, although I’ve missed the past few because of work commitments, so it was nice to be able to do it again. But I love the outdoors. So being on a set like this was very enjoyable.

Q. Was there anything that caught you out about being in a jungle environment though… anything that made you squeamish?
Matt Kane: I was a bit surprised to see wild monkeys around. I knew there would be various animals lurking around but was still surprised to see them. But I never felt in any danger. We had great people on hand to look after us and there was nothing that put me off. It was all good. It was so nice being there in those elements and being able to connect with it and not have to imagine so much.

Q. How did you cope with the CGI element? Is that something you took to easily?
Matt Kane: I did wonder about it when I was reading the script initially and while going through the audition process. It was strange to imagine being on set and working with something that wasn’t there. The most you get is a ball on a stick and you have to look at that and imagine it’s a dinosaur – and quite often I didn’t even have that! There was one occasion where it would be a person wearing a blue glove pretending to peck a sweet out of my hand. It’s quite a complex process. But I’ve always been a fan of dinosaurs anyway, it was a big part of my childhood, so it was really quite straight forward to imagine what I was facing. And Sid was great at describing things. Seeing it last night for the first time, it looks so natural.

Q. How was working with Sid?
Matt Kane: It was terrific. The enthusiasm that Sid had for this was inspiring, as was the man himself. When you look at his past work and see the kind of guy he is… he’s a fan of dinosaurs and that really helped when it came to describing to us what we were looking at. We also had preliminary images of what the creatures would look like. But his descriptions alone were enough to get a good idea of what we were dealing with and what kind of size.

Q. You’re character, Luke, is also a dab hand with gadgets. How are you with them?
Matt Kane: OK. I’m not an expert or anything but I can deal with them. I’m not massively into computers. I’m a fan of Macs because they’re more user friendly, so I’m used to using them. But I’m a big fan of cameras. I recently got a GoPro for my girlfriend and she uses it a lot. So, it was a lot of fun to get to use them and play with them on set. I’m reasonably interested in good gadgets and I’m amazed by what things can do. The quality of the GoPros and what they can do is amazing.

Q. What does it mean to you as an actor landing your first feature role in a film like The Dinosaur Project? And has it started to open doors?
Matt Kane: It means a lot. This was a fantastic opportunity for me and I feel so fortunate to have got it. But I think it’s going in the right direction. I’ve been spending a lot of time in America recently. In fact, I’ve already got my next role there, which will start shooting in Minnesota later this summer. So, this was a huge step forward for me. There’s still a lot I have to learn but being given an opportunity like this… I couldn’t have asked for more. Every element of the film was fantastic, especially the amount of time I had to work with the camera. Hopefully, it’s a nice showcase of my potential. I hope other people can see that and where I can go with it because I’m raring to go and to keep working and moving forward.

Q. What’s the name of the next film?
Matt Kane: It’s called Stay Then Go but it’s still in the early stages of pre-production. We’re still a few weeks away from principal photography. But the fact that it’s an American project and I’m working with a fantastic American manager is just great. The Dinosaur Project has done a huge amount for me. It shows that someone trusted me to play a leading role and I needed that. I need people to put a character in my hands and trust me to bring it to life and do it justice. So, I’m extremely grateful to have been given that opportunity in the first place and incredibly excited to be given more of them in the future.

Read our interview with Natasha Loring

Read our interview with director Sid Bennett

The Dinosaur Project is released in UK cinemas on Friday, August 10, 2012