As families file into movie theatres across Canada to take in the latest release from the immensely popular PAW Patrol franchise, an Edmonton-area teenager is revelling in his acting debut.
Will Brisbin, a 16-year-old from Sherwood Park, voiced one of the lead characters in PAW Patrol: The Movie: a 10-year-old boy named Ryder, who is the main protagonist and leader of a crew of search and rescue puppies.
Sherwood Park teen to star in ‘PAW Patrol: The Movie’
“It’s been a process a year and a half in the making,” Brisbin said while speaking to Global News from his home in the community directly east of Edmonton.
“To be able to see everybody’s hard work pay off from all the cast to all the crew, it was just an amazing feeling.”
Brisbin grew up doing theatre and film after he began taking acting classes at Festival Place when he was seven years old. He was cast in his first role at the theatre in Grade 2 in Oliver! The Musical.
Going for the PAW Patrol movie was the first time Brisbin had ever auditioned for a voiceover role.
“I wanted to put my best foot forward. I knew it was a great opportunity,” he said of the audition process that began in early 2020.
Brisbin said his agent at the time sent in his audition last February, and he attended a callback in Toronto in March 2020, two weeks before the initial COVID-19 shutdown.
“Then after that, I didn’t hear from them for a while. It was two or three weeks. And I was checking the email every morning, checking the voicemail. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any messages because I was really on edge about the whole thing.”
About three weeks later, his mom received the call.
“It was pretty crazy. My mom came into my room and she told me. She was like, ‘Sit down, we need to have a talk,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, am I in trouble? What did I do?’ And then she told me I got the part and I was so happy.
“I wanted to call everybody I knew. I wanted to text, I wanted to post about it, but I couldn’t tell anybody.”
Even last fall, when the movie was announced, Brisbin wasn’t allowed to reveal his character.
“That was so hard — I couldn’t even tell my siblings.”
He also didn’t know who else had been cast until last October, when it was revealed the Alberta teen would make his voice acting alongside Kim Kardashian, Jimmy Kimmel, Randall Park, Tyler Perry, Yara Shahidi, Dax Shepard, Iain Armitage and Marsai Martin, as well as members from the original series’ cast.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to meet any of them yet, but maybe someday in the future because that would be a dream come true,” Brisbin said.
“This whole process really felt like a pipe dream. It’s all been so amazing. My dreams are coming true.”
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To prepare for a job he had never done before, the teen said he watched episodes of the kid’s show, researched his character and practiced the role in front of a mirror for about half an hour each day. Brisbin then did all his voiceover work at an Edmonton production studio, working in secret.
“Even though I was just talking into a (microphone), I still, like, physically acted,” he said. “Sometimes… a little too much. They sometimes had to tell me the sound was cutting out because I was moving so much.
“Yeah, it was a challenge at first getting into the character. But I quickly found my groove.”
Brisbin said he learned a great deal about the movie industry, voiceovers and how to develop a character when you only have a voice to work with.
Brisbin hopes his PAW Patrol role will be a stepping stone to future acting gigs.
“I hope it brings a lot of great opportunities, a lot more auditions, and I’m just super excited for what the future may hold.”
Canadian families that want to take in the highly anticipated children’s animated film, based on the homegrown toy franchise and TV series, will have to head out to a movie theatre.
The film opened in Canadian theatres Friday, but some of its marketing materials have encouraged kids to stay inside and stream the film on Paramount Plus.
That’s caused confusion with some families as to why the film isn’t available on the streaming platform in Canada, like it is in the United States, where the at-home streaming option also allows for repeat viewings.
The problem arises from complications around the film’s ownership, which varies by territory.
Paw Patrol: The Movie is distributed by Elevation Pictures in Canada, while Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures handles the stateside release.
The Canadian connection to ‘PAW Patrol: The Movie’
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Paramount has been dabbling with different release models and chose Paw Patrol to experiment with a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release.
As part of the rollout, social media accounts for Paw Patrol as well as Paramount Plus began to trumpet the film as having a streaming option, without noting that it’s only for U.S. viewers.
Canadians have long complained about how difficult it can be to determine which streaming service is carrying their favourite show or new movie, but rarely does it affect such a popular Canadian brand as Paw Patrol.
The globally known franchise about a precocious boy and group of rescue dogs is owned by Toronto-based toy creator Spin Master, which has become a force in the children’s entertainment industry.
A representative for Paramount Plus did not immediately provide comment.
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— With files from David Friend, The Canadian Press
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Sherwood Park teen makes acting debut as main character in ‘PAW Patrol: The Movie’ – Edmonton