Okay, I’ll admit it. This new genre of “web series” is something I fought against with a fairly stalwart will. I mean, why watch something online when I had cable, television, Netflix, Amazon Video, and so on. I have not been one who necessarily relishes sitting in front of a device and watching a show or a film, but in recent years, I have begun to realize the amazing benefits of doing just that. If nothing else, I can always rest in the fact that I am having the opportunity of viewing something that I will probably not see on a conventional television station nor even in a traditional theater. And, to be honest, there is now such a rash of prodigious and provocative online content available to the masses, and in many ways, we have pioneers in this digital media to thank for this extraordinary content that is pushing the boundaries and accelerating more rapidly and with unparalleled verve that rivals anything else in the world of entertainment. Well, it just so happens I was privileged to chat recently with one of these online media innovators, and while I may have been unfamiliar with the work of Brendnan Bradley up to now, there is no doubt in my mind that his trendsetting career is ready to soar to new heights. I predict that in a relatively brief time, he is going to be someone who will be known in every sphere of the television and film world as his hallmark is his visionary ability to note trends and see where things are headed in the near future. When we chatted, this impressive young man detailed to me his introduction into the world of entertainment, his groundbreaking work in online content, and the additional realm into which his career is about to be thrust.
RH: Brendan, it’s so nice to be chatting with you today, and after doing a bit of research, I learned that you have done quite a bit in your career already, and you have even more to look forward to.
BB: Well, thanks, I’ve been around the block a little bit and I’m very excited to graduate to the next chapter in my career.
What inspired you to become an actor, Brendan?
I was extraordinarily terrible at everything else in school. When I was fifteen years old, my mother dropped me off at a community theater in the hopes that I would find a circle of humans that was not a bad influence on me, and I ended up booking the lead in their play. I went on to do another play by South African playwright Athol Fugard about the Apartheid, and we ended up having these conversations with the audience every night at the end of the show. And I was hooked. I was like, “Wow, we use an imaginary universe to have real conversations about social issues happening in our own community.” The following year, I produced my first play, which helped get me accepted into the acting program at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. While I was there, I started a theater company with friends and began simultaneously producing and acting in theater all over New York City. Meanwhile, I was accepted into a Shakespeare program at the Royal Academy in London, and did my first films during my time overseas.
How did you get involved with developing this new media out in LA?
It began through an interesting dichotomy that I was experiencing back then. I was producing micro-budget theater featuring very interesting, non-traditional stories that you wouldn’t normally see on Broadway. But then I was also starting to work with independent filmmakers as an actor and learning the ropes of how you can really scale down and be a minimalist in video production.
In 2007, during the writer’s strike, people started throwing around the term “new media” and the idea of digital video on the internet. I couldn’t really understand it–I don’t think anyone really could–but it fascinated me. So I moved to LA and started going to meet-ups and panels for “short-form video.” I was intrigued by the possibility that we could take the kind of stories we were telling in off-Broadway theater, produce them with a small, low-budget film crew and create content that, instead of trying to get a hundred people in a black box theater on a Tuesday night, you could email it to people and get tens of thousands of people to watch it online. I began by producing commercials for companies that wanted to have YouTube ads to fund my first “web series” called Squatters, a comedy about two guys who make a bet to live without an apartment in New York City. We did fourteen episodes of the show, won dozens of awards, and screened on multiple platforms and festivals.
The success of Squatters in a new landscape got me a lot of meetings, especially with Comedy Central. From there, I was brought in to write for a digital series for MTV Networks called Video Game Reunion. Meanwhile, Squatters became my calling card to work and play in the early “YouTube community” in Los Angeles. As the industry grew, I was one of those guys that was around and everybody knew as reliable, funny and willing to take my shirt off. Hypable.com said it best, calling me “the nicest douchebag on the internet” because I was always playing these frat guys. Kind of like Bradley Cooper early in his career. He was always playing the muzzle-head jerk, but off camera, he was fun to work with. A professional and intellectual guy who just happened to play these jerks. Since then, I’ve appeared in over one hundred sketches, shorts and webisodes online.
Two years ago, I was selected to be the national spokesperson for Staples, which has afforded me the exposure and the financial freedom to really bet big on my next project. Like what is happening right now where everybody is starting to incorporate digital talent and influencers into traditional long-form narrative projects. I saw that trend early and was like, “That’s absolutely where this is headed. That’s where it has to go.” So I’m producing and developing my own films that star known digital creators in less niche, offline franchises.
Please tell us about your involvement with the web series Sing It!
Sing It! was one of YouTube Red’s first original series and produced by the Fine Bros, who I’ve worked with several times in the past and happen to be in their cell phones. When a name actor cancelled due to schedule conflict, I got the call, literally. I saw Eli Savage as a kind of a tattooed Adam Levine sort. He’s very “hands-on” and charismatic with everybody as he guest judges the final contest on the show for the last two episodes. And then he propositions the two lead actors. Spoiler alert.
I understand that you had quite the experience with last season’s Elementary.
Yes, I did triple duty playing three different characters in the same episode that all became mixed up in the same crime; they were doppelgangers. The first character was a German immigrant, so I had to learn how to speak German with a dialect coach. (I also FaceTimed with a childhood friend who lives in Germany.) The second guy was your typical Wall Street, New York guy who’s paying everybody off. And the third character was like a New York dock worker who had been originally propositioned by the Wall Street guy, but wasn’t interested. I had so much fun on that show, and the whole team was an incredibly welcoming family.
So I understand you have an upcoming appearance on the CBS series, Doubt. How did you get involved with this show?
Yep, I auditioned early on in the season for a different role and the casting director, Patrick Rush, kept bringing me back in. He did not stop until they found the right part for me, which inspired me to come back each week, better and better, to do him proud. I ended up landing the guest role of Hayden, a nervous young lawyer preparing for a character and fitness interview. The episode is titled “Running Out of Time” which is the twelfth episode of their thirteen-episode season.
So let’s talk about Tyler Perry’s upcoming show for OWN network, The Haves and the Have Nots.
I booked THAHN off of a taped audition, and I went out to shoot it in Atlanta. Tyler Perry has such a unique filming style, shooting like seventy pages a day in blocks by location. For example, we’re at a crime scene on one day of shooting, so we get to shoot all the parts from six episodes that take place around that location. I play a police officer and I really can’t say much more. After working with Tyler Perry and watching this filming style of his, it makes sense how he’s able to produce so much incredible content every year. If you’re basically shooting a feature film every single day, you can certainly turn out that volume of storytelling.
I know you mentioned that you’ve been cast in an upcoming feature film. What can you tell us about that?
About three years ago, I did a reading of a delightful film, called In Vino. After this Thanksgiving, I met with the director on a Tuesday and was at a table read on Sunday, before immediately filming the entire story in two weeks. That’s show business. In Vino has a terrific cast, including Sean Young and Ed Asner and tells the story of a billionaire (Asner) who convenes his family to discuss their inheritance after almost being killed by one of his own.
I play the young butler who is a presence and conspirator in practically every scene of the film. I’m perhaps the only man whom Charles Bouitton can trust…or am I? In Vino is written and directed by Leonardo Foti and Executive Produced by Marco Gomez of Venture Hill Entertainment.
I’ve loved chatting with you and hope we can sit down again in the new year, when I can finally talk about my most ambitious project yet…premiering before Valentines Day….its a first of its kind filmmaking model with a first of its kind distribution plan. Until then, I’ll be on your TV box both during and between the commercials.
That’s about all that I can talk about for now. Thank you, Ruth!
Seriously?? That’s ALL that this guy is doing?? I could get dizzy from attempting to keep up with his frenetic schedule, but there is no doubt in my mind that Brendan is immensely skilled and perfectly suited for this career that he has carefully charted from the beginning. While he is a tremendous actor, producer, writer, and so much more, his most notable aptitudes include his prognostic capabilities and his uncanny reliability. These are the qualities that set this enterprising trailblazer apart. While his name may only have been known in certain stations and domains, he is swiftly moving into the category of “go-to” guy for everything in the new landscape of this digital age. Because of his dedication to his craft, he is earning the respect and admiration of those on the cutting edge of the entertainment universe, and I greatly anticipate where this man, who is wise far beyond his years, will arrive next. I must admit that it decidedly baffles the imagination. So as we await all of his upcoming news and roles, make sure that you check out every one of his links below and follow him across the social media spectrum lest you miss any pertinent updates. A talent like Brendan’s is one that is often not found within the world of entertainment, and his unique qualities and remarkable sense of direction have set him miles above the vast majority of other aspirants. Notwithstanding, he still maintains a level head on his shoulders and a fierce dedication to discovering what the “next big thing” will ultimately be.