By Ermira BABAMUSTA/
The talented actor, producer and playwright Artan Telqiu left his mark in theatre, film and TV as a successful artist. Famous for his appearances in “Cross Roads”, “Best of Friends” and “The Belgrade Trilogy”, Artan Telqiu has had a successful run as an actor in both theatre and film.
“With every project that I get cast, the experience is always different, and that is one of the things that I love the most about being in this industry. You get to meet new people with the same ambitions and with the same drive working towards ultimately creating together a wonderful piece of art. And that is precisely what happened in Made in Amerika movie, where I play lead,” said the successful actor, Artan Telqiu.
After appearing in numerous lead roles, Artan also appeared on the “Anti-Bullying” PSA 2011 campaign by Daniel Azarian, which was featured by Perez Hilton. He was also featured in the successful TV Series “Monsters Inside Me” (2011) which aired on Animal Planet.
In “Made in Amerika”, a short film directed by Orges Bakalli, Artan Telqiu plays the lead role as Ilir Bushati.
“The character that I played in the film, Ilir Bushati, is someone that I can easily connect since he comes from a background and culture that I am very familiar with. He is a man that considers himself to be the ‘man of the house’, the sole provider in the family. He is a good man, in a new unfamiliar land, unwillingly drawn into bad situations,” added Artan.
Artan Telqiu is currently collaborating with Teodor Petelov in writing a script for a Balkan themed play and he is also involved with The Whitelisted Theatre Company as a Producer and Director of Development.
Artan Telqiu was born in Dibër, Macedonia in 1977. After the Kosovo War in 1999 he moved to New York, where he pursues a career as a playwright, actor and producer. (http://artantelqiu.com)
The Road to Success: Interview with Artan Telqiu
Interview by Ermira Babamusa, New York
How old were you when you started your acting career?
Artan Telqiu: I was very young when my school teacher started casting me in plays. My first experience on stage was at the age of 8.
Talk about your most interesting projects you have been a part of (theatre or film).
Artan Telqiu: It is really hard to choose, therefore I will have to go with more than one project. I will begin with the most recent play, “Belgrade Trilogy” by The Whitelisted Theatre Company, which was something that will forever remain in my heart. We were a team of artists that are still together, long after the show ended. We did everything for the play, rehearsals in the wintery cold nights, tech, promoted the show, moved the set around between the acts, and still showed a hell of a performance on stage every night. After the show we would always get a good feedback from the audience, and there is no greater reward than that. I have to say, if it wasn’t for our director’s guidance we wouldn’t have gotten such a great response. So thank you Mr. Diego Villada!!! Of course, once everything was over, everyone got sick…haha.
Another project is the short film MINE. We spent nights together with the cast at the directors house doing many rehearsals prior to the shoot. Since the director, Nick Martino, wanted everything to look authentic, we walked neck deep in swamps, upstreams, climbed huge fallen trees, fought with mosquitos, wore authentic Vietnam uniforms, and braved the rain.
Then there is the brilliant mind of Logan Fulton, who casted me for his Civil War short film “A Walk With Death”. That film was also shot with authentic guns and uniform, in the wintery cold weather of NY. I met so many wonderful people on set. We are together again with Logan working on a zombie series based on the popular PS game “The Last of Us”. The first episode should be out Sep 20th, 2013 on his youtube channel.
Let’s not forget “Hotel Pennsylvania”, which was one of the best experiences thus far! To see such a professional group of people work so hard and so organized and treat everyone the same on set is something that will always be with me. Experiences like that make you a better person without your knowledge. The director Marc Wilkins is simply superb!!! I hope the future brings us together again.
And of course the feature film by the excellent Malik Isasis titled “The Elegant Clockwork of the Universe”, where I play the love interest of the lead character. I am sure I will not be the only one to say this: working with Malik was something that I will always treasure in my heart and mind. A truly unique person with many talents and a soul of a saint. Even on the toughest of days, and with all the bad luck we had, he was calm, positive and motivating.
I have to also mention my last project for National Geographic called Inside the American Mob, where I play a wall street mobster. This was definitely a great experience with a really professional cast and crew. I am truly looking forward for my episode to air…
I want to mention all of my projects since they all are interesting and unique in their own way, and so that I don’t forget anyone, but I will stop here before our all interview becomes about that.
How has acting changed your life?
Artan Telqiu: Well, it has definitely put me in the path to enjoy my life more. I truly believe in this saying by Confucius…”Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Do you get nervous for auditions?
Artan Telqiu: I did in the beginning, after I got back to acting from a long break. It was ridiculous. I would shake every time I sat in front of the CDs and leave the room with the worst experience. But from all that experience I have learned not to be nervous anymore, because there is nothing really to be nervous about. The Casting Directors need you and they are looking for you. Once you have that info in your head and that all you have to do is be yourself, you instantly become more confident and that is all you really need…confidence. Go, present yourself, and forget about it. On to the next one…
When you hold the script and prepare for your role. What is your creative process in developing a character?
Artan Telqiu: I first read the script without choosing a character. I want to know who, what and where before I separate my character and analyze him. After getting familiar with the script, I read it once more, but this time with my character in mind. I then start to try and understand him, and slowly create a vision of him in my head. Once that is done, I try to think what past he might have had. And when the time comes to be on set, I try to act with the character in my mind and heart…I try to forget myself.
What is your favorite type of movie genre?
Artan Telqiu: I love comedy, but lately film noir and sci-fi are really drawing my attention towards them. And I love playing a villain…but who doesn’t, right?
What does a person need to be a good actor?
Artan Telqiu: I would say never to settle, and go for greatness. Believe in yourself even when others don’t, and always be yourself. Never give up. Say no to projects that you don’t like, and take chances when your instincts tell you to. And lastly, please remember to always be professional, on time, never back off a project that you already gave your word to, and network!
Have you ever been invited to any special events?
Artan Telqiu: I believe that comes with networking, and with being many years in the industry. But yes I have been invited, most recently to a film by the famous Lee Percy and Praq Rado at the premiere of “Dreaming American” screened The Academy Theatre. I was also at the premiere of “The Elegant Clockwork of the Universe” by the award winning Malik Isasis. And most recently at the Cinemax NY second season premiere of “The Girl’s Guide to Depravity” where my friend Rebecca Blumhagen plays the lead. And many other events that my busy life unfortunately won’t allow me to attend.
What is one thing you would like to accomplish this year?
Artan Telqiu: Get signed by a well-known agent.
Tell us about your character “Ilir Bushati” in Made in America.
Artan Telqiu: Ilir Bushati, is a good natured immigrant that moved in America to start a new life with his lovely wife. Unfortunately, things in life don’t always go as planned.
What kind of research did you do to prepare for this role?
Artan Telqiu: I didn’t have to dig really hard for this character, since I am familiar with his background and culture, but I still had to understand where he is coming from, and what he wanted to achieve. So, with that knowledge I tried to connect with him in a more personal level, and act in the situations in the script with his state of mind.
What was it like working with the director and other actors in the set?
Artan Telqiu: It was a rewarding experience for sure. The director was on point, and he knew what he wanted, but even so, he always asked for our opinion on each and every scene that we were shooting. The extraordinary cinematographer Albert Elmazovski, always managed to leave me awed with the things that he was able to do. I truly loved working with him and everyone else on set! Emira Berisha, showed a level of professionalism that actors who have been acting for a long time don’t, even though this marks her first film. And the person that brought most of us together, the multi-talented Roland Uruçi, was so natural on set that made everything much easier not only for me, but also for everyone else. Another wonderful actor, Alex Richard, the antagonist in the film, made it much easier for me to hate him. And thank you to the producer Joseph Di Mattia for being there all the way with his invaluable advice to all of us. I hope I didn’t forget anyone, but if I did, everyone knows that they were wonderful! All of them!
Your recent civil war project “A walk with death” has gone viral on the internet. Tell us a little bit about this project and your role here.
Artan Telqiu: It was truly a unique experience since the set looked and sounded as if we were truly in the civil war. Most of the people on set were on point with the history and all the details. They had in depth knowledge about the uniforms, how the gun was held, how a hand was cut, that one shoe was made for both left and right, what battle strategies were used in the war…etc. They were on point and they transferred that knowledge onto me. After that…we went to battle! Then there was death! The tall figure of death was so beautifully created by Alex Squiers that I couldn’t wait for us to shoot the scene where he takes me. The brilliant director Logan Fulton already had everything laid out in his mind! Once we started shooting, he knew what he wanted and got it on film. It was a cold wintery day, which resulted in an emotional civil war with a valuable message for all. I am truly grateful to the director for trusting me with the lead role for this project.
What are you currently working on?
Artan Telqiu: I am currently involved with The Whitelisted Theatre Company as a Producer and Director of Development. We are working towards bringing another play from the Balkans here in NY. I am in the process of writing a script with my partner in crime Teodor Petelov. In the works with Christopher Piccione on something that I cannot reveal at the moment. Working with the wonderful Yelena Sabel in her feature film “Sex, Blood, and Fairy Tales”. Also working with the remarkable Brennan Brothers on their newest short film “Selected” that is currently in post production. On a mission to get my reel done, and of course the ongoing auditions.