If you’re a director scrambling to fill a couple of roles, the local school board would probably be way down your list of casting calls.
If you’re filming a movie or television series in the Victoria area, however, it turns out School District 62 would be a pretty good place to start.
Trent Pryor, facilities manager for the Sooke School District, and Joanne Kimm, assistant superintendent and executive assistant to the secretary treasurer, have been finding steady work in the local film industry, although both arrived from completely different directions.
Kimm had taken acting in high school and decided to take some acting classes when she first moved to Victoria in 1990 because her husband was away for long periods of time.
“My acting coach told me I needed an agent and then my Avon lady told me her hubby was (an agent),” said Kimm, whose credits date back to 2003 with parts in the Creepy Canada and Terminal City television series. She eventually settled with Barb Coultish and has appeared in a number of productions and the TV mini-series Gracepoint, filmed in Victoria, and several movies, including Stranger in the House this year.
“To be an actor means you can be anything you want – any time, any place,” she said.
“It’s one of the best jobs in the world.”
Pryor stumbled into acting when Bond of Silence, a movie shot at Sooke’s Edward Milne secondary in 2010, required someone from the school board’s department to be on site and no one else wanted to work that weekend.
“I got to know the actors and crew and stayed in touch and was called back in 2014 to be an extra,” he said. “The original guy for the part didn’t work out because they were having lighting issues with the reflection off of his bald head, so they grabbed me.”
That has led to roles in a number of Hallmark movies, playing a detective on Gracepoint and an appearance in a music video by local artist Aidan Knight, said Pryor, who also works with Coultish Management.
“They keep calling and I have to turn away more than I can take because of my commitments at School District 62,” he said. “The school board will always be my first priority, because it’s more than a job, it’s who I am. I love acting, though, because you get to be someone and that’s a huge stress reliever.”
Kimm, who gets less calls because of the restrictions of being a member of the union, has also written a screenplay for a TV pilot. “I love working at the school district, but a career in writing would be a dream come true,” she said.
Another similarity the two share is the opportunity acting has created to work with family.
Pryor recently worked on a University of Victoria production with his granddaughter and Kimm has worked with her two sons.
Although he was initially reluctant to see his granddaughter involved, Pryor was fully on board once she said how much she enjoyed it. “I needed to hear that and will encourage her as long as she wants to continue,” he said.
Both of Kimm’s sons have done some work and share the same agent as their mom.
“It can be very regimented and repetitive and I wanted to be sure they enjoyed it first,” she said.
While Pryor and Kimm have had to turn down roles because of scheduling challenges, both were quick to add that “all of our colleagues at the school district have been super supportive.”
They also say they’ve made many new friends with actors and people working on the set every step of the way.
“You find out they’re just like anyone else,” Kimm said. “There’s no putting on airs or pretenses, because we’re all here to do a job.”
Pryor said once you get a chance to talk to them, “They’re just as similar or different as anyone else.”