Theatre grads team up on the big screen

April Mullen and David J. Phillips have teamed up to bring a taste of Ryerson to Hollywood.

The Ryerson alumni premièred their latest film, Badsville, last Friday at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema.

The film follows gang leader Wink (played by Ian McLaren) as he navigates the struggles of friendship, love and loyalty in a town fractured by gang rivalries.

The production, directed by Mullen and produced by Phillips, will be available via video-on-demand on Feb. 6.

Both Ryerson school of performance graduates moved to L.A. to pursue their careers separately.

“I know April has been really at it and she has worked very, very hard, I think tirelessly, for her projects and so has David,” said Cynthia Ashperger, director of performance acting at Ryerson’s school of performance. Ashperger taught both Mullen and Phillips.

Some of Mullen’s previous leading roles include HBO shows Good God and Cavedweller. She also co-founded the production company Wango Films.

She says that Ryerson was essential in helping her understand the importance of autonomy in filmmaking.

“The best, most important thing Ryerson brought to my life, in general, was that it was important to create your own work and your own voice,” said Mullen. Phillips, also an actor, has been in many films, including Shark City, Green Guys and Re-Generator. After coming across Badsville’s script, he reached out to Mullen for an opportunity to direct.

“There’s a huge underlying message, I think. One of love, loyalty, friendship, family and also hope – like, for a younger generation – in trying to push past your comfort zone or where you’ve been brought up from and the perceptions and the environment around you and to push past those and aim for something bigger,” said Mullen.

Badsville was released on Oct. 20 last year at Tallgrass Film Festival, and has had numerous screenings across North America.

But for Phillips, being able to come back and share his experience with the people who helped him get to where he is now is just as rewarding.

“The most memorable thing, for me, is actually right now, is being able to come back here and show the film to my family and friends and, you know, to be here at Ryerson where we graduated,” said Phillips.

Mullen and Phillips joined the Ryersonian to discuss their Ryerson experience, Badsville’s intended message and more.

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