Saanich teen Dylan Schmid relishes work on Disney zombie film

You’d think having experience confronting Peter Pan’s nemesis in fairy-tale land would be an advantage when you’re cast in a Disney movie.

Not necessarily, says Dylan Schmid. The Saanich teenager learned that while shooting Bunks, the Disney XD Canada original movie comedy about two mischievous brothers who unleash a curse at an idyllic summer camp they sneak into.

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The film, produced by Fresh TV in Canada, airs on Disney XD Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Neither Schmid’s encounters with Capt. Hook in Once Upon a Time, ABC’s hit fantasy series in which he has a recurring role as Rumpeltstiltskin’s son Baelfire, nor enduring stone-filled tornadoes in Jason Bourque’s disaster flick Stonadoes could have prepared him for what he triggers in Bunks — a zombie outbreak in the Canadian wilderness.

“I learned a lot being part of a Disney movie,” says Schmid, noting Bunks is more about laughs and lunacy than pirates or fairies.

In the loopy coming-of-age comedy filmed in Kenora, Ont., and Winnipeg last year, Schmid’s character Dylan O’Reilly and his older brother Dane (Aidan Shipley) pose as camp counsellors.

They soon realize that supervising a rag-tag group of 11-year-olds through activities from canoe trips to dodgeball games is nothing compared to stemmng a rising tide of zombie campers.

“It was a lot different. It’s shot differently, and I’m usually more into drama and crying,” says Schmid, 14.

“Because it’s something I’ve never done before it was weird to step into. There were a lot of laughs, and some improvising.”

The young actor says he loved working for director Tibor Takacs, the Canadian horror-meister (The Gate) whose other credits including helming episodes of Fresh TV’s My Babysitter’s A Vampire.

“Tibor was pretty funny, and I loved his notes,” said Schmid, who also learned a lot from co-star Shipley (Flashpoint).

“Aidan was a great dude, a fun dude. Working with him was not only hilarious but he really knew what he was doing.”

Schmid, who once studied at Victoria’s Kaleidoscope Theatre, appeared in Leslie Bland’s production of The Hobbit and was cast by Timothy Vernon as Flavio in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Rodelinda, admits he didn’t have his own summer camp experiences to draw upon.

“I went to a small one, but not in a forest. It was a swimming camp. I walked to it,” he said. “I don’t think that counts.”

He said it helped that he’s such a big fan of zombie movies, with World War Z among his favourites.

“I loved how they ended that,” he said. “You can’t cure it, but you can hide from it.”

A Bunks scene Schmid says he’ll never forget was one shot in front of a roaring fire outdoors. “It’s the hottest I’ve been in my life,” he said.

Now that he’s older and taller than when he started, Schmid is getting busier, with a new set of challenges.

He says he cherishes his friendship and lessons learned from working opposite Robert Carlyle, the Scottish actor who plays Rumpeltstiltskin in Once Upon a Time. The home-schooled Grade 9 student is also grateful to his parents — Sherri, a registered nurse who works in acute mental health, and Todd, a nurse’s aide who works with seniors — for their support, and to his older brother T.J. for the swordfights and other games they played as children that now come in handy on sets.

While juggling homework and auditions is challenging, Schmid has another wish he’d like to fulfil.

“I do want to experience high school at some point,” says the potential Mount Doug Secondary School student.

Meanwhile, the actor whose other credits include a recent appearance in The Haunting Hour and a featured role in the upcoming horror film Horns with Daniel Radcliffe, remains passionate about acting.

“I’ve never lost that and I don’t think I ever will,” he says.

mreid@timescolonist.com

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