Devin Cecchetto is a Canadian rising star who is set to make serious waves in music and film.
Emily Ryder’s recent short film, Rain On Me, showcased Devin’s ability to tap into the nuances and physicality of a character without dialogue. A performance of restraint that is no less captivating than the electric on stage performances she delivers around Toronto as a singer.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Devin to talk about filming Rain On Me, working with director Emily Ryder, finding her voice as a musician, and much more.
Q: Emily Ryder’s new short film, ‘Rain on Me’, looks at a young woman dealing with the pain and confusion of loss. How did you approach getting into the mind of this character? Did you draw from your own experiences of loss?
A: When Emily first approached me about doing this short film, I was so excited about this opportunity. As we spent time together, she shared the outline of her story. That is when I realised that this would require me to embark on an emotional journey for the first time in front of the camera.
As she shared her amazing concept and examined pain and loss, I began to tear up. I could really relate to the content of the story as I felt it reflected what I was going through in my life at the time. My Nonna, whom I was very close to, had just passed away. My cat that had a special place in my heart was involved in a hit-and-run and died on the side of the road. I was also going through a bad break up with my boyfriend at the time.
Obviously, this was a very emotional time for me, I felt like my world was caving in and I was in a very dark place.
Emily and I talked about what the rain represented and how it mirrored the characters internal state. When there is a heavy storm with thunder and lightning, it feels as if you will never see the light of day again. She wanted to explore the idea that being immersed in rain is just a state of being and it will not last forever. Rain and thunderstorms are actually beautiful, as it provides a sense of clarity and a new beginning. Love can come from a place of darkness.
The final scene was my favourite; the character has a truthful realisation that something that seemed so scary was actually beautiful. When stepping into the character I considered the different stages of loss and placed myself back to moments in my recent past where I had experienced real grief in my life, this helped me embody the emotional depth of the piece.
On a side note, we shot the film at the end of fall when it was minus 5 degrees outside. I had to pretend it was a warm Spring day as the ice cold water fell all over my body. It was challenging to pretend it was a different season, as I lay on the frozen ground with water dropping all over me. I realised to obtain the shot I had to suspend my reality, the power of thought. Slowly I was able to no longer feel the cold. Our thoughts are so powerful, in this career and in life – it is all just one big metal game!
Q: You do a wonderful job of capturing the emotional journey of this character without having any dialogue (apart from a brief voiceover). As someone who is used to performing with your voice (as a singer), how did you find the challenge of this silent and physical role?
A: I actually found it beautiful not rely on dialogue to tell the story. I feel silence made the nature of the film very raw. There are a million ways to say something, but at the end of the day, body language can express more truth if you are willing and open to watch and listen.
As a person, I can be extremely chatty. I love to interact and express myself through words, but they only tell half the story. As a singer, the lyrics to my songs are very important but I also use other elements to deliver a powerful song.
When preforming on stage, to create an emotion and a feeling, I express myself through a number of elements including movement, dance, or simply singing on a vowel for a long period. Each element help me translate the story more effectively than the words ever could.
Q: What was the nature of your collaboration with Emily Ryder? Any fun/interesting stories to share from your time working together?
A: OH MY LORD! In between every take, there was always something to laugh about! The circumstance of the filming process where incredibly funny. As I mentioned, it was extremely cold outside, so we encountered many problems that comes with shooting in the great outdoors like, equipment failure, a freezing crew, or the props needing to be heated up in a warm bathtub to function properly.
Through it all Emily always kept thing light hearted and full of laughter. This made the experience so much easier and fun.
Q: I have seen some incredible videos of you performing live in venues around Toronto. What have your experiences been like so far? Is Toronto a great place for a young performer like yourself?
A: Toronto is amazing! I have lived here my whole life. I never imagined I would have opportunity to perform at fantastic locations like Buddies and Bad times or the Mod club. The energy is amazing!
Toronto in the last couple of years has really become home for up and coming young performers. I find it so incredible to see everyone share their energy and passions will all of Toronto.
Q: You perform a mix of covers and originals. How are you finding the process of writing your own stuff and discovering your ‘voice’ as an artist?
A: Honestly, I am still discovering my sound, but I am never scared to just throw stuff out there and see how it lands. I find writing an interesting process. When I first started creating my own sound, I took inspiration from my exposure to a variety of music. When I was little my dad loved to listen to rock and roll music.
When I first started singing, I was classically trained in Opera, later I sang Jazz and then started performed in Musical theatre. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have been on the path of discovering my “pop” sound. It appears my sound pulls from all of my training as it has a jazz like quality with vibrato and a rock belt. I think you have to be bold, every time I create something I learn a little more about me. Most importantly, I am still trying to discover the story I want to share with others.
Q: There is a great video of you on Instagram performing with a friend called Leah (@lemckk). How important are the people around you when you are at this early stage in your journey?
A: It is so important as an artist/ performer/ creator to be surrounded by others who are on the same path. This career never stops, it becomes a lifestyle. The way you see things, how you interact in the world all changes in order to continue to create.
Leah is one of my best friends and we have had amazing opportunities to sing, dance, act, and model together. I am so grateful for the entire artist community around me. Collaborating is the best way to get your foot in the door and be exposed to others and there amazing talents.
Q: Is the dream to eventually start touring with your music? If so, what are some of the dream locations you would love to perform at?
A: Yes, travel is such a big thing that I want to do! If I am given the opportunity to travel and share my passion all the better! I do not have specific places honestly, where every the wind takes me.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what led you down the creative/entertainment industry path?
A: I remember my Nonna would sing to me all the time in Italian when I was little. I started my classical training in Opera with the CCOC when I was 5 years old. I always wanted to be an opera singer.
At the age of six, I performed O’Canada to a live audience at a number of functions. That is when I realised that I loved to perform. As time moved on, I gained interest in acting. I performed in community musical theatre when I was around nine years old. I think these experiences drew me to the arts and attending high school at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, in which I majored in musical theatre.
Now in my final year at Sheridan College for a Musical theatre degree, I feel all of the arts training has allowed me to find my creative voice. In my last year of school, I look forward to enhance my singing acting and dancing abilities. I still remember being six, thinking: “man I could do this from the rest of my life”. Performing for an audience gives me the biggest adrenaline high but I truly enjoy all aspects of this amazing industry.
Q: What are your hopes for the future? Any ambitions or upcoming projects to share?
A: I am currently signed with an agency, so I have just started learning the how to audition for film and TV. I would love an opportunity to appear on camera, but my passion is performing in musicals. I have been working on songs to create an EP and get an album out. I really want to keep creating music. Who really knows what the future holds but I am so happy with this crazy path!
Title photo by Manny Parra