Martin Dingle Wall has been a series regular in a string of television series in Australia such as ‘Home & Away’ (Logie Nomination: ‘Most Popular New Talent’) ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Underbelly – A Tale of Two Cities’ (Logie Winner: Best New Series), ‘Rescue Special Ops’, and he also starred in his own police drama ‘COPS L.A.C.’ He won the ‘Best Actor’ Award in 2014 for his performance in ‘We Men Do’, he produced and starred in the feature film ‘The Nothing Men’ (nominated for Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival) which has a Rotten Tomato Audience score of 100%, starred alongside Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes in ‘Strangerland’ (Sundance Competition) and played the romantic lead of American Movie Star Michael Barclay in the film ‘All that Jam’ – it was shot in Russia wherein Martin learned and spoke the entire film in Russian. Afterward, he played the lead role of Warren Novac in the action thriller ‘Happy Hunting’ (Winner ‘Best Actor’, ‘Best Film’, ‘Audience Choice Award’, ‘Best Cinematography’) which sits on the prestigious Thrillist at No.13 for Best Horror Films of 2017 and holds the Rotten Tomatoes Reviewers ranking of 100%. Martin then went to Chile to film “Gun Shy” with Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko Directed by Simon West. Currently, he plays Will Scott, the lead protagonist in the series “Cypher” which was shot on location in Los Angeles – he plays an ex FBI Agent and eminent cryptographer. He also plays Luke Hadler in The Dry opposite Eric Bana and stars as the lead Billy Nordic in the new series Unleashed which was shot on location in Los Angeles and directed by Alison Eastwood.
FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Martin to discuss his journey in the industry and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself?
Will the defendant rise. Explain yourself! Ha. I’m born and raised in Bondi Beach. It was a rougher place in the ’70s, and 80’s than today’s mecca. Not fitting into the conventional school curriculum my parents sent me to apply for Art school at the end of year 10, lied about my age, and passed the entrance design test. I graduated with a Graphic Design Diploma at 18 when my friends were finishing the HSC. This soon led to applying for Walt Disney TV Animation in Sydney and again passing the illustration test & got onto their production line as an in-betweener.
I did this for 3 years and at 21, I took my earnings and experience and headed to Europe to travel. It was on my travels I would discover street theater and realized this is where my interests were most electrified.
I returned to Australia at 24 and took my first drama class.
Unable to attain entry into any of the Drama Schools, I got rep with an Extras agency. I was just fascinated by the mechanics and process. You’d never find a more fascinated or attentive extra than I was. I watched & learned for years. I did theatre wt short films and freelanced as an illustrator to pay my rent. I’d learn their lines by watching them and then think about how I might do it.
An editor friend eventually cut me a one-minute reel out of a bunch of short films. This ‘Reel’ was shown to a new agent in town. This agent took a chance on me. I soon booked a National Condom Commercial. A while after being submitted to actual casting companies, I got an audition for a Dr. Flynn Saunders on Home & Away at Mullinars.
What do you like most about acting?
I have an absolute love for the process of players agreeing on a situation as stipulated by the scene and together creating a spark of life in a moment in time that can transport you and move you emotionally. It’s the most intoxicating drug, the most exhilarating experience a human can have in my opinion. I literally have lifelong friends born out of sharing a pure moment of truth in a magnificent scene together. This is Magic. Timeless. Through the Eons and Ages.
How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?
There is of course a difference – Film is a microcosm. Where stillness is your power. It’s an even more internalized process. TV sometimes you will allow your body to attune with its more natural impulse to move with a feeling. But when all is said and done. The doorway of taking some words, allowing them to inform a reality within you and your full surrender to that creation is the journey and understanding of anyone involved with screen acting.
My preference is honestly governed by the story and how excited I am by my knowledge of the directors’ ability to successfully translate it to the screen.
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
I think perhaps we are always seeking to release any control despite knowing where we need to take a scene of where it wants to take us. Humans are creatures of control. An incredibly alluring part of this practice, discipline, or craft is the releasing of control in the otherwise entirely controlled and insular Universe that film and television making is.
So being, present, available yet in charge simultaneously is the perpetual requirement and contradiction of this work and world.
What are your strong points as an actor?
Maybe my willingness to be in a moment with my fellow actors and have an excitement about what could happen, where it could go, what we might discover, or where it could take us and be ultimately committed to our world between action and cut.
This reads as the basic requirements of the actor, but sometimes I think actors can hide, or wobble in their conviction if it goes off track and into the wild, and I think I am a fairly reliable scene partner in trusting that occasionally the scene will overtake and have plans of its own. I feel I stay in the saddle pretty well until the director wants to call cut.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
That there are so many, many different versions of them. Some just want the edit points, some want the coverage for lack of clarity of vision, some want to be led by the actor. So it’s always best to get a chance to meet them as people as much as possible. I’ve signed onto several jobs because the Director was telling the story to me and I could see so much clarity in their vision. Sure enough, these various projects have been some of my biggest successes.
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
Well, it’s not linear. And as beings that seek control & security, we operate in a linear function. The acting game is somewhat philosophical to me. If we approach it like its combat, we will find that. If we think someone can take a part, then that will restrict our flow, so to speak. In practical terms, show up. Before I got the rep I wanted in LA, I was self-submitting. It’s sort of the garage sale of the industry. But there are films being made in the self submit isle. Any submissions I made and got invited to, I turned up ready. Frequently few actors would turn up. Sometimes no others. Sometimes auditions were cancelled because actors were a no-show. I showed up every time and was ready. Eventually, it’s just the law of averages working in your favour as well. Everything helps. Every audition made an impact.
I booked my first US feature film lead through these channels. It’s called HAPPY HUNTING. We won 23 festivals and gained 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. After the fact it was discovered the director Louie was Mel Gibson’s son. This is why you go to Hollywood. This stuff happens there. It gave me my first Hollywood Reporter Review as a Leading Man and ultimately led to the opportunity to be seen for CYPHER. My current US TV Series Lead.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
You learn this stuff very early. As you are learning the craft, you discover there is a safety veil between you and the words, scene, or fellow actor. This veil often gets exposed and destroyed through the pure fear of losing control. That’s why doing classes or practicing is essential. You can f*** up, and every time you lose control you get closer to your actual strength as an actor. You need to be scared to death a few times I think, even naturally gifted actors. When you are scared you reach out to rely on your scene partner & in those moments actually feel the connection that you seek in life. The tangible. And then maybe you realise you have been in scenes with people but in your need to control, not actually been with them. The veil disappears upon the moment of real connection.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
Raise my son, travel, swim, go on adventures, build cubby houses, climb, skate, watch movies, stretch, hydrate, create, draw, write, produce, collaborate, read, google, cook, meditate, stretch, train, flirt, date, strum, teach, learn, explore, be a friend, be a brother and son, drive my van, give thanks for my life.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
Going to Hollywood, never signing with an Agent, only a Manger, and having a couple of Feature Film Leads – two current TV Series Leads is an active yet memorable blessing. The reason that bears stating, is that we are told there are ways this happens.
I didn’t go to the US with a film at Festivals. I didn’t go with Agent intros. And no one owed me that. I just went. And my journey as an actor, let alone in that town, is only just starting.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
The most interesting people I have met have also been the most attractive creatively. I mentioned earlier, there are some directors I met that when they had offered me the leads in their productions we then met properly. When you meet someone that doesn’t give you a sales pitch. They just tell you their vision. The excitement you feel of them knowing how to take their vision to the screen and that you get to enjoy being submerged in their skill is the greatest delight. They are the most desirable and interesting to me,
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
I’ll be submitting pretty solidly for that part. Or if it’s after the fact, my son can play me.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
Future Plans? Keep dreaming. I want to work with Ridley Scott, and Spielberg – I want to work with the greats. I am going to keep seeking roles that talk about stuff that fascinates me. I’ve done reasonably well so far in attracting a variety of roles. I know that at some point when you become visible you have a brand, and so far the kind of roles I’ve been attracting that are getting me some visibility are characters that I don’t mind being branded with.
Is there is anything else or interesting you can tell us?
I was given some great advice by an Italian actor Franco Nero. I took a flight some years back with him back to London. He said that movies are called this because every frame is moving. TV is still sometimes. Never in ‘Movies’. He said your best friend is the cameraman and the lighting guys. Understand the relationship between camera and light. If your director tells you to hit a mark and move your head here on this line then you do that. If he is good it’s because his cameraman had told him to. And that’s because the lighting is in place for that position. For you, If you know your work, your craft, your team, and you can listen to what they are telling you when your head is on a 50-foot screen – you do your work as an actor, but you hit that mark the cameras has asked of you.
This is when you see the complete artistry that is the collaboration of the Director, Actor, Camera, and Light. And that alchemy is where the medium can touch and change the world emotionally, with the right sound!
This is why we are fans of movies and this is why we became Moviemakers.