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Utah actor on ‘Cloud 9’ with Disney role
TV » Colton Tran, who stars in the snowboarding film, says his first passion is directing and editing.
First Published Jan 16 2014 06:15 pm • Last Updated Jan 16 2014 06:24 pm

Colton Tran considers himself more of a skier.

But that didn’t keep Tran, who grew up in Layton, from landing a role as Mike Lam, a member of the elite Swift snowboarding team in the Disney Channel original movie "Cloud 9," premiering Friday, Jan. 17.

At a glance

Landing on ‘Cloud 9’

“Cloud 9,” an original movie, premieres on the Disney Channel on Friday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central.

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"I was in Utah directing my latest project, ‘Gloom,’ when I received a call from my Utah agents," said the 24-year-old actor, director, writer, editor and artist, who is now based in L.A. He went through several rounds of auditions in Salt Lake City and then at the network’s L.A. office.

"It was really exciting to be a part of a large production that was filming in my hometown."

"Cloud 9," with Luke Benward and Dove Cameron, follows an exhilarating story set in the world of competitive snowboarding, just in time for the Winter Olympics.

Tran says filming for "Cloud 9," much of it at Utah ski resorts, was unlike anything he has experienced in his career.

"I had never been involved in such a massive production with so many talented cast and crew members," he said. "It was the first time getting my own trailer and also the first time having my own stunt double! Disney put us through a weeklong snowboarding camp and then we filmed for two months all around different ski resorts in Utah."

He said his favorite moment during the production — and also the most painful — involved an epic snowball fight.

"The snowball fight quickly turned into a wresting match between Mike Manning [who played Nick Swift] and I. In the scene, he grabs handfuls of crystallized snow and shoves it in my face.

"We filmed that scene 10 times. Needless to say, we had a blast, but my face had a rash the next day, ha!"

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The cast and crew had a viewing/premiere on Dec. 18.

"I was blown away with the final product. ‘Cloud 9’ is going to bring something new and fresh to Disney Channel," he said. "It kind of pushes the envelope in several different ways, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the premiere."

Tran’s passion for film and acting started when his neighbor Scott Freebairn, a film director and producer, took his own daughter and Tran under his wing and taught them the ins and outs of filmmaking.

"His daughter Alyson and I were filming movies every weekend and were fluently editing with Final Cut Pro by the age of 13," Tran said.

He went to Layton High School and became the student-body media tech. He received a scholarship to Utah Valley University for film and leadership and then won an additional scholarship to the Art Institute before moving to L.A.

"It was a little tough the first couple of weeks being away from home, but after the first month we hit the ground running," he said. "I had a meeting a couple of months into our move with a talent manager. He decided to represent me as a director the day we met and then set up a meeting with one of the top agents in town the next day. I met with the agency Paradigm, they saw my film work and started pushing my film around town that next week. It was a very quick process, which seems unusual to me, but it was nice to know that veterans in Hollywood were already supporting my directing work. It gave me a boost of motivation and confidence to become the best I can be."

He says his first passion is film directing and editing.

"I started training in acting to help better myself as a director," he said. "I love being able to create and make my visions come to life. My specific directing style is inspired by German Expressionism, which plays with shadows, contrast, forced perspective and practical effects. My film style is often compared to Tim Burton, Jim Henson and Guillermo del Toro."

Tran said that everything that happens in his career is because of his family’s never-ending love and support; his grandparents invested in one of his first film projects.

His business partner for nearly seven years, Laura Young, said Tran’s acting and artistic abilities are like none she’s ever seen. "His creative imagination is never-ending and his motivation and determination unstoppable," she said. "Every experience he has results in another bright film idea or piece of art. His instincts are spot-on, but I have always enjoyed working with him because he takes great pride in seeing others succeed."

As well as writing and directing, Tran edits his and Young’s projects, supervises the photo shoots for their artwork, edits the covers, creates all the logos and designs, and builds and updates their websites.

Tran said he feels the past year has been productive and he wants to keep the ball rolling. "I’m pushing to get my latest film, ‘Gloom,’ picked up and produced by one of the studios we have been meeting with, push myself into more acting roles and lastly I want to create an exhibit for my broken vinyl artwork," he said. "My gears are constantly turning and twisting. There are so many ideas in my mind and I want to find many avenues to express those visions, either through my films or art. I just want to stay positive and create."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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