Interviewing the great Roman Wyden.
By Guy Camilleri
This week, I have the pleasure to sit down with Roman Wyden, a writer, actor and director who is on the hot pursuit of truth, his truth, and is continually creating content as a man, husband, father of two boys and artist. I’ve known Roman for 12 years, have had the good fortune to act in four of his films, playing challenging roles that he wrote specifically with me in mind.
And, in addition to being a writer, actor and director and who shows up weekly at RAW to dig into the work, Roman is soon to be a teacher at RAW acting studio, right here in the heart of Venice Beach. It’s with great joy, to introduce to you, my friend, colleague, confidant and someone who is committed to living an authentic life.
Guy Camilleri: Yo, Roman! Congratulations on “Quail Lake” (starring Carlos Leal and Chloe Lanier), your first feature film! Not to mention, you wrote it, then directed it in eight days! Man, what a great way to kick off the new year with the film being accepted into three festivals (Hollywood, Maryland, Arizona) thus far!
Roman Wyden: Thank you! We’re very excited. And, we are currently in talks with two distributors and looking forward to having “Quail Lake” available on these prominent platforms; Netflix, Amazon and iTunes.
Awesome. Even though the answer to this question may be a bit obvious in your case, I still need to ask; Do you need to be an artist (writer, actor, director) or do you want to be an artist?
I need to be. If I don’t stay creative in life, my soul starts to dry up. I can usually tell when I’m in a funk that I’ve not been creative for a while. Even if I think there is nothing to create during a tough moment in life, then I’ll just build something from that struggle and express myself through it.
Where do you hail from?
I was born in Brig, Switzerland, a small town at the foot of a beautiful mountain. I love my roots, and I am forever proud of the kind of peaceful, safe upbringing that I had. Yet as I approached my 20s, I always knew that it was too small of canvas for me. I needed to breathe and take in the world on a much larger scale.
Why Los Angeles and not New York?
Because New York is too busy and I am way too distracted in life right now. I’m getting better at focusing on the present moment and not letting all the fuzz around me distract me from being present. Giving up coffee helped.
As of this interview, who are you in the world?
I am committed, giving and a loving man… a husband, father, entrepreneur and artist.
And, what do you want back from the world?
Partnership in creating what I think is good for the world: healthy relationships between partners and in families!
Describe your life as an artist?
I think I’m ultimately an actor who wants to write stories that I can then realize out in the world. When I have a new idea, I usually jump straight to the laptop and open final draft. Rarely do I write down notes or construct a treatment first. It’s happened before, but it’s not the norm. I start writing and as I write I act out all the characters to make sure it sounds like real dialogue. I love writing dialogue. More than action and more than structure. I could write dialogue all day long. I guess I would be a better playwright than a screenwriter.
Then once I have a script as a blueprint, I start talking to my potential collaborators and set a shoot date. That’s my stake in the ground; setting the shoot date. It’s the most critical decision after calling my script ‘good to go’. From there it’s all teamwork, putting out fires and trying to stay true to the material while shooting it. Once we’re in post-production on the film, the tie loosens, and I get to sit back and re-craft the story into the final product. That’s probably my favorite part, the post-production, editing process and seeing it through to the end.
Let’s talk a bit about Venice, what do you like about living on the west side of Los Angeles?
I love the westside so much. It’s much more relaxed than the east side, downtown and other areas of L.A. I’ve lived in. West of the 405 there is a good mix of entrepreneurs and creatives that I really appreciate.
In Venice, I always feel inspired to create, build and collaborate on new ideas with artists, entrepreneurs, and locals. My favorite place is GTA for a great coffee and a healthy salad. The scene has a vibe that I love.
Anything that you dislike about Venice?
Property prices are astronomical right now. That’s about the only thing I dislike about Venice.
What advice would you give to the person reading this, who is considering becoming an actor, screenwriter or director?
Do it. But do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it for the money. If you do it because you have to, the money will follow. Put in 10 years and you shall see a return. I guarantee it. But you must give 110 percent, even when you don’t feel like it. And remember, it’s a team sport. You cannot do this on your own.
What advice would you give to someone starting later in life?
Same as the above. I am currently treating my 2.0 in life no different than my 1.0. If anything, I am playing even a bit riskier since I most likely only have a certain amount of years left. So, play hard and use your wisdom to guide you. Trust that if your soul tells you that you must do this now… now is the time!
What is attending a weekly class at RAW doing for you?
It rejuvenates my spirit, feeds my soul, and it challenges me out of my comfort zone… and it inspires me to stay creative and share my voice with the world.
What role does authenticity play in your life?
It’s my carrot in life. There is no place where we ever arrive and can say: “Now I’m 100 percent authentic all the time. I’m done. I’ve made it.” We are human beings, and we trip and fall down in life. But we get to clean up our messes and move forward stronger. We get to acknowledge where we have been inauthentic in life and commit to practicing being authentic from now on… until we’re not. You get the idea. For me, it’s my north star, my guiding light, and the one truth to strive for that nobody can take away from me. I know when I’m authentic, and I remember when I’m not.
How do you define intimacy?
When I trust myself fully, I can then trust another fully. When I give myself entirely to another, they are allowed to give themselves fully to me. When we both feel safe, we can be intimate.
Intimacy is a result of the full revelation of another human being in our presence. It has nothing to do with sex, although it can lead to it.
What have you learned about yourself from the various transformational workshops you attend?
I’m going with the short answer here, or we’d have to do another article just on that one. I have definitely learned that I will never be ‘done’ working on myself. There is always the next level. As they say: “Yesterday’s transformation is today’s ego trip.”
I also learned that I love cracking myself open and seeing what I can improve on to become the best man, husband, and father to my children. I see it as my school of life. The type of school that we, unfortunately, have not yet adopted into our public schooling. The kind of work that I feel every human being needs to be doing.
Especially our children, they should be exposed to transformational principles early on in their lives. Many parents are just merely handing down old, unconscious parenting principles to their children. And it’s not working. Look at the world.
And lastly, how would you define ‘being in the moment’?
That’s flow state. Defined as ‘nothing else matters,’ full concentration, almost like a life-or-death scenario. Could be an actor, a base jumper, an acrobat or a mother giving birth. We can all access it. The present moment. Now.
But everything out there in the world at the same time tries to pull us away from that flow state. Distraction is the enemy. So how do we get into flow state? Experiment with various ways to get there and then implement those techniques daily, and we shall enter that state more often than not.
Once again, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be a part of your life and how much I dig that you’re in my life!
See you at RAW next week if not sooner at GTA.
Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting-life coach, and poet. His classes are packed with actors, writers, directors and creative people from all walks of life on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice.
His private coaching specializes in building characters for film, television, stage, audition preparation, self-taped auditions, original reels and self-expression in any field of interest. To audit, enroll in a class or book a coaching session, visit www.guycamilleri.com. Follow Guy on Instagram and Facebook.