Travis Burns chatted to Courageous Nerd about his new film Dreamcatcher, a horror feature that also stars Niki Koss (Famous In Love) and Zachary Gordon (Diary of A Wimpy Kid). Travis also discussed his time on Australian soap opera Neighbours, where he played the character ‘Tyler Brennan’ between 2015-2018.
Some fans may recognise Melbourne native Travis Burns from his role as mechanic ‘Tyler Brennan’ on Australian soap opera Neighbours. Travis starred on the long-running series between 2015 and 2018, later making guest appearances in 2019. Since leaving the show, Travis has turned his attention to Hollywood, with a role in Dreamcatcher, written and directed by Jake Johnston.
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Travis Burns (TB): Thank you for having me.
How did you first start acting – was it a hobby, or did you find it later on?
TB: Well, I kind of fell into acting. I started off as a photographer – I went into school and got a Bachelor’s in Photo Imagery. And, unfortunate events happened – my camera got stolen, I had about $20,000 worth of gear stolen from me. Insurance took about 10 months to get it back. That moved into modeling and then modeling basically into acting. I found acting so free for me, for what I was doing at the time when I started.
To what extent have other Australian exports – such as Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie or the Hemsworth brothers – inspired your own journey as an actor?
TB: Absolutely. I was fortunate enough to go through a similar process to them – on Neighbours [Australian soap opera] for 3-and-a-half years, which catapulted many, many people. I did it a little backwards, moved here [the United States] first and was fortunate enough to shoot a show in South Africa for four months, I think it was.
I had a lot of Visa issues in the United States, which forced me to move back to Australia. Then, I did Neighbours and decided I had to try it. Hollywood’s the place where everything happens – all the studios are here, all the auditions are here. So, I had to make a move. I’ve been here for 2-and-a-half years now.
As already mentioned, you played ‘Tyler Brennan’ on Neighbours for years. How much of a concern was there in being typecast while playing a continuous role?
TB: That’s 100% a factor. I’m not sure if you saw images or anything, but I had long hair down to my shoulders and up in a bun. I’ve got very thick hair and if I let it down, it’d look kind of like a big afro and I didn’t quite like that. When I finished up Neighbours, I actually cut it all off. It was a wish from my wife when we got married, for me to have short hair. I ended up cutting it for that and changing my look a little bit. Whereas, I could have come over here with the long hair.
For all the females out there, it’s a lot. Long hair is a lot to keep up, wash and maintain, I guess. So, I respect them in that way. For me, I felt like I had to cut it all off, start fresh, move over here and put my best foot forward.
Have you been able to apply lessons you learned on Neighbours to more recent jobs?
TB: I took full advantage and I have no dramas in saying that. I took full advantage of Neighbours. So, a lot happens. We shoot 40 weeks of the year, we churn out a ton of content. I learned a lot through acting, I always sat in the editing room so I learned a lot of editing. I sat in the colour room and learned about colour in the video. I’ve applied that and I share a lot of content for brands at the moment as well.
All that has helped me to where I am today. And acting-wise, picking up a scene and learning it in 20-25 minutes, it’s kind of that muscle memory that Neighbours really taught us. Sometimes, you get given a script, you’re not ready for that. We’re shooting that in 20 minutes and it’s only going to take us 15 minutes to shoot the scene. They work very, very quickly there. So, you sink or swim.
More recently, you’re in Dreamcatcher, a new film written and directed by Jacob Johnston. How was the process of becoming involved with the project?
TB: Dreamcatcher, I played “Dylan”, who is “DJ Dreamcatcher” first and foremost. It was amazing to play him. The character himself has so many levels. It was so fun to work on that – I worked with my acting coach just to figure out what happened previously to get to where he is at the beginning of the film. It was so fun to work out all that, take this and throw some bits away that didn’t work for us. Then shooting it; blood, guts, stunts. It was really fun to be a part of.
How would you pitch Dreamcatcher to anyone who is unfamiliar with the film?
TB: The film would probably centre around me, “Dylan”. Also known to his fans, obviously, as DJ Dreamcatcher. Something goes terribly wrong at the very beginning. It involves Dylan and a group of friends. Basically, it turns into a 48-hour whirlwind of violence, mayhem, blood and guts. That’s pretty much I guess, what I can say.
Dreamcatcher seems to take inspiration from classic slasher films such as Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer. What was your first impression upon reading the script?
TB: When I first read the script, I actually auditioned for a different role. It’s now played by Zach [Diary of a Wimpy Kid star Zachary Gordon]. I’ll be honest, he plays that role much better than I would have. It kind of all worked out. I read the script and was a big fan of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream, those in particular. I got a little sense of that vibe.
Also, Jacob Johnston, who’s the director and writer, he implemented so many different elements to the slasher film. EDM (Electronic Dance Music), the relationship between the managers and the publicist. Then, you’ve got the friends on top of that. He created so many elements as opposed to just being a simple slasher film. So, it was really cool to read that.
As well as yourself, Dreamcatcher features a talented young cast (including Niki Koss). Describe your experience working with that creative team?
TB: The cast, they were incredible to work with. We’re all quite young, vibing each other and the energy on set was always a fun energy. Sometimes, you get very serious. But this was actually quite fun. We had a few trailers and while we were at lunch, we played music and had a chat.
I respect Jacob [Johnston] so so much. I was very lucky to be part of that project and have him directing it. He pushed me as an actor and took me to levels that I didn’t know I could reach. I trusted him with his vision for the script, how to shoot it, and everything like that. I think it turned out really, really good.
For anyone reading/watching this who wanted to keep up with your work/you personally, where could they look?
TB: They can always check me out on Instagram, @mrtravisburns. IMDB is a really good one for information – there’s IMDB Pro, but IMDB is probably the best one. Or, I guess, Google is a phenomenal search engine these days. There’s always Google to write my name in and I think I should pop up. I haven’t googled myself.
What do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
TB: Get through it! Obviously, 2020 was a bit of an interesting year for everyone around the world, obviously, COVID-19. I took that time to really dig deep and figure out… I’m sure that’s what a lot of other people did as well, but figure out what they really wanted to do with their lives. I spent most of the end of last year creating a golf brand called Kjore. That will be launching, I think, next month. It’s like an apparel accessory golf brand. This year, we’ll be focusing on that and also auditioning. Hopefully, we’ll have a few more projects by the end of the year.
Dreamcatcher is available on March 5, On Demand and Digital.