Two Parksville Qualicum Beach actors can be spotted in an independent feature film showing at this year’s Victoria Film Festival.
Parksville’s Arabella Costello, and Bowser’s Clayton Neuwirth have roles in All-in Madonna, which plays online at the Victoria Film Festival until Feb. 14.
All-in Madonna, directed by Arnold Lim, tells the tale of teenage girl Maddie who attends public school for the first time after being home-schooled her entire life. At school she is confronted with rumours about her father’s criminal past and he suddenly becomes a person-of-interest in the disappearance of a local man. Seeing a different side of her father, Maddie has difficulty reconciling with the man she’s always known, and the man he may actually be.
Costello plays the role of Cher, Maddie’s little sister.
Though not her first appearance on screen, she said playing Cher was her first “big role.”
In 2018 she appeared in the Hallmark show Chesapeake Shores in season three for an episode. She has also appeared in student films and small side projects.
Costello’s favourite part about acting is stepping into the lives of different characters and trying different perspectives.
“It’s super fun to be in a different person’s shoes. You get to explore being different people, even though you’re the same person that you are.”
When on set, Costello, 13, tries to base her performance both on what the director is asking for, and how she personally believes the character would act or react to different scenarios.
Encouraged to act from a young age and often told how she was meant to be a performer, Costello decided to try acting classes in Nanaimo.
“Once I found my creative medium, I really enjoyed it. There’s not too many negatives about acting, it’s really fun.”
As for her role in All-in Madonna, Costello said her favourite part was filming on location at a house in Victoria.
“I’m just super grateful that I got the opportunity to be in a movie, especially since my director Arnold was so amazing. And it was such a great experience.”
Neuwirth, originally read for the lead role as the father of Maddie and Cher. Eventually though, the role was given to Vancouver actor, Adam Lolacher.
“But they liked my audition so much they ended up writing in a little part for me,” said Neuwirth.
He appears in one scene, playing the role of Victor, as a means to offer a small breath of comedy in an otherwise dramatic film.
His character stumbles upon a missing character’s vehicle in the woods.
“Just a funny moment in the movie where I call the police and I show him the vehicle, and it’s a cute little scene. It’s probably the only funny part in the movie.”
Though while All-in Madonna is an independent film, Neuwirth said the professionalism felt similar to a big budget project.
“It was a great experience, and great to work with Arnold and that whole crew. When you’re on set like that you make friends instantaneously. You get a bond because you’re creating something special.”
Neuwirth has appeared in several other Hallmark features, as well as Chesapeake Shores, in short films such as If A Cookie Crumbles…and numerous commericals.
“I would say 90 per cent of my film work is based on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo and Victoria. Whenever there’s a Hallmark show, there’s a base in Victoria, they will look for local Island actors. So that’s where you get a lot of opportunity.”
Neuwirth was an acting coach in the past, something he said he put on hold to seek out opportunities for himself.
“I actually coached Arabella on an audition, probably just before All-in Madonna. So we’ve got a little history. She was amazing in the film.”
In regards to teaching, Neuwirth said he wants to continue working on himself.
All-in Madonna first launched virtually on Dec. 9, 2020, at the Whistler Film Festival. It can now be viewed online through the Victoria Film Festival website at 2021.victoriafilmfestival.com. Tickets for a single viewing is $8 and $12 for a group viewing.